by Kahle Williams

Everyone is wondering: when are live events going to return? I wish we could tell you with certainty, but no one knows for sure. However, there are some extremely positive trends indicating the return of events is imminent. Plus, I can share some interesting insights we’ve gained working closely with our customers who have either recently hosted their event or are planning to do so later this year.

The Trends Are Shifting

    • A fewer number of our customers are canceling their event or pivoting to virtual. Instead, they are postponing to later in the year. Here’s a current breakdown of our events scheduled to take place the remainder of the year:

◦ Q2 – 30% scheduled / 70% canceled or virtual

◦ Q3 – 95% scheduled / 5% canceled or virtual

◦ Q4 – 100% scheduled

    • COVID-19 cases continue to drop for the seventh consecutive week and are down an incredible 79% from their recent peak!1 This, coupled with the 80 million vaccine doses administered in the US so far2 with great results, bodes well for events returning soon. At this rate, the majority of US citizens, and more importantly the highest risk citizens, will be vaccinated by the summer.
    • Confidence levels are on the rise. Although air traffic is still down significantly, in the last week we’ve seen that passenger flights continue to increase and are now over 1 million per day (up 40% from the beginning of February). As the COVID-19 trends and vaccinations continue their positive trends, we believe it is inevitable that we will see improvement in both attendee and exhibitor sentiments.

Latest Tools Show Organizers Are Relying On To Re-Open Safely

Health Screening – This has become the cornerstone of most onsite health and safety plans we’ve seen as of late. It’s a process to ensure all visitors, staff, and exhibitors produce a negative COVID-19 test before being permitted into the event. Organizers are using chatbots to schedule the coronavirus tests. Confidential test results are then sent to a digital health app that event participants download to their smartphone where they can show proof of their test results.

Managed Crowd Density – Another key component. It’s the process of managing occupancy limits for the show floor, sessions, and other spaces to comply with local authority regulations. Entrances are equipped with a display monitor that shows the occupancy level in real time using traffic light indicators. Staff members are alerted automatically when occupancy limits are reaching capacity.

Contactless Registration Services – Organizers are doing a lot to reduce foot traffic and all forms of contact in the registration areas. Here are some popular options:

Occupancy Management
    • Virtual Badge – A completely electronic badge that resides on registrants’ smartphones. A link to download the virtual badge is included in the registration email confirmation. Registrants then add it to their Apple Wallet or Google Pay and use it for session/hall access control and lead retrieval – eliminating all physical badge printing onsite.
    • Print At Home Badges – Registrants print their badges on plain paper before they leave for the event. Links to the PDF badge template are provided in the registration confirmation email or customer portal. When onsite, registrants can easily fold their badges to fit into the clear plastic badge holder used with a lanyard (supplied by Organizer).
    • On-Demand Contactless Printer – A self-serve and touchless solution for registrants to print their badges from printing stations that can be strategically placed throughout the convention hall. Registrants launch the printing application right from their registration confirmation. After entering the printer station code into their smartphone, their badge prints immediately.
    • Contactless Express Registration Carts or Kiosks – A lot like on-demand contactless printers, but with more capabilities. Kiosks and mobile carts can be equipped with onboard self-serve barcode scanners to support a large influx of people, and the process can also include COVID-19 screening questions and a liability waiver. Kiosks and mobile carts can easily be placed in the main registration area or any remote location such as airports or hotels.
    • Scheduled Registration Check-in Times – A process to limit the number of people in the registration area at one time by requiring registrants to schedule their badge pickup date/time in advance. We recommend making it a mandatory step in the registration process so it can’t be bypassed. The date/time they select will appear in their registration confirmation email that can be added to their Apple Wallet or Google Pay.

Gear Up For a Busy 2021

The outlook for live events returning in 2021 is extremely positive. A recent industry survey conducted by UFI3 points to the same conclusion:

      • Industry revenues will double in 2021, compared to 2020
      • 64% of respondents say last year’s loss of events due to COVID-19 has only reinforced the importance of face-to-face gatherings
      • 57% of North American companies say virtual events will not replace in-person events.

We know that COVID-19 has transformed the event industry, accelerating the adoption of technology to produce virtual and hybrid events. And while those online elements are here to stay, they simply cannot replace what live events offer. That includes, to name a few:

      • The rapport and trust built by meeting face-to-face, which strengthens business relationships
      • Opportunities to expand your industry network
      • The energy and excitement of opening day
      • The sensory experiences of seeing and interacting with a new product before your very eyes
      • The element of chance and spontaneity in meeting different people and encountering new businesses and products
Happy businesswoman talking to colleague at lobby in convention center

We hope you found this information useful. If you have any questions or comments about this blog, please send us an email at

1. Google
2. Bloomberg

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