This feature was originally published in Latin America Meetings magazine.

José María Ávila

Vice President Business Development for Iberia & Latin America, Kenes Group

Although the spectrum is very wide with market differences between countries, most events are still being organised virtually, especially the scientific and medical ones.

There are places where commercial or corporate events are being held in-person, but these remain the exception. Association clients cannot afford an eventual worsening of the situation that would force them to cancel or reschedule. Virtual events offer that safety net they need at the moment.

From our observations and conversations with clients, I fear that the return to face-to-face events will not occur before 2023. Of course, we expect 2022 to be a year of transition, during which it is very likely that certain events in specific locations and countries could and will be held. I anticipate that the first quarter of 2022 is going to be a very difficult period.

We also see some interesting trends that we will need to capitalise on. I will share three with you:

Higher number of international attendees  With no travel and accommodation expenses to worry about, attendees are more likely to join an event.

We are experimenting with an important increase of international delegates across all of our conferences. This new audience provides added value to the interactions taking place at the meetings. This brings me to the next trend:

Delegates want to network  Participants are, of course, interested in the content, but they want more than attending a session out of their congress experience. They want to have the opportunity to interact with each other. We need to develop and deploy platforms and tools that allow networking among participants.

Hybrid events  The two trends above will ensure the success of hybrid events. Events will be conducted face-to-face, but they will have an online component with different venues and speakers connected through technology and virtual platforms.

Suppose we can provide the right tools and find a way to maximise interaction and networking. In that case, we will be able to capture the international audience that has joined our virtual events in the longer term and enhance the reach of our content. This will be the future, and we are getting ready for it.