A few years ago, I made the decision to transition my company, Grow Disrupt, from a coaching and consulting firm known for helping small business owners thrive both personally and professionally into an events company with the same reputation.I quickly discovered that this was no overnight task! The transition was slow and organic, spanning over three years. By the end of 2019, Grow Disrupt was owning this new identity! We built a brand that people not only trust but rely on-- and then 2020 came barreling in with a global pandemic and events came to a screeching halt.
What was truly astounding was that, throughout a pandemic, my team and I were able to execute three in-person events, one in June, one in November, and one in January of 2021 with absolutely no viral spread. So when people ask me, “Stephanie, Since Grow Disrupt is an event company, How did COVID-19 impact it?” The reality is, the pandemic did not have a negative impact on Grow Disrupt at all. In fact, we had a massive growth throughout 2020. Why? Because we were able to lean on the brand that people trust.
So, how will COVID-19 impact events in 2021? Here are my thoughts based on a survey we conducted, along with the insight and experience our team has gained.
Massive live events, anything above 1,000 attendees, are out for at least the next 12 months. Now, I may be a bit biased as personally, I was never a fan of massive events and extraordinarily large crowds. But now, more than ever, I have NO interest in attending a 10,000+ person event -- even with mandatory masks and safety protocols! There is no way to socially distance that kind of event. There are too many variables to control, and so many people refuse to follow safety protocols!
However, this opens the door for event producers to creatively design and execute both in person and/or virtual, small, boutique-style events. And more so, this gives attendees the opportunity to fall in love with these style events while feeling safe and trusting that the security and safety protocols will be followed and easily enforceable.
Sidenote: Fortunately, for Grow Disrupt, prior to 2020, we only designed exclusive, intimate, strategically-curated, boutique-style events. I have always believed that this style of event is a lot more valuable to small business owners. Since time is a small business owner’s most valuable resource, they cannot waste their time on attending a massive event designed to get a couple of ideas that are searchable on google.
As for virtual events, I do not think these will ever disappear! Not only that, I think they will only improve as developers release more software and hardware designed to make virtual events feel more aligned with live, in-person events.
As mentioned above, in October of 2020, we conducted a survey asking small business owners whether or not they have and/or would feel safe attending an event during the pandemic. This is what we found:
59% of business owners surveyed said that they have attended events since the start of COVID-19. These events were primarily outdoors and had a screening procedure in place to reduce the risk of spread.
78% said they would be comfortable attending if there were screening procedures in place that they felt comfortable with.
Right now, more than ever, people are craving person to person connection! Therefore, events will continue to happen just in new, transformational ways.