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Beyond Zoom: Trends for Corporate Events in 2021

Firebrand handles production as well as logistics for a full-service, white-glove experience of destination management and event planning.
The undeniable allure of live event production.

Global health concerns have pushed corporate leadership and their event planners to transform live events into virtual substitutes. The results are mixed.

By now, most companies have found ways to re-tool their events to incorporate varying degrees of increased social-distance. Even still, the zoom meeting and virtual format have lacked a sense of occasion and excitement when it comes to engagement. Meanwhile, incentive trips are hardly replaced by gift card promotions. So, even as we shed restrictions and safety measures, the need to explore, innovate, and compel individuals to become attendees is critical to again reap the undeniable benefits of a live, captive audience.

Trends for 2021 business events take a fresh approach to hosting experiences, delighting attendees, and enjoying destinations. Some draw on the need for meaningful fare and smaller incentive trips. Others demand sustainable and hybrid events for attendees.

These trends are current expectations to satisfy, so anticipate the corporate event forecast. Explore these six trends for your next event, excursion, or choice of DMC and event planner.

Six Trends for Corporate Events in 2021

Bringing together an audience and setting your brand apart from industry peers means aligning your skills, resources, and ideas with the right information. Knowing what event planners and venues are seeing helps you to understand what’s possible, what’s effective, and what’s essential to your next corporate event.

Navigate each section for venues, wellness, and more below to learn how corporate leadership, event planners, and DMCs are designing for the 2021 mindset.

Local, Plant-Based Wellness

With the recent health concern, food and beverage experiences have a spotlight on safety with dividers, face shields, gloves, screens, films, etc. Because of this, event planners and attendees are thinking differently about their immune system as well as what they eat. It’s no surprise then that plant-based, immune-friendly meals fill menus.

More, sourcing these foods locally has never been more important for attendees to get a true sample of their destination. While this might look like an additional expense for leadership and planners, attendees share their thanks on Facebook, Instagram, and more with the right presentation. In the economy of impressions, it pays.

As people return to the live event and excursion, nutritious, beautiful, and locally sourced food adds meaningfully to the experience. It also gives events a flavor of celebration and authenticity when food and drink come inspired by the city.

Full-Circle Sustainability

Sustainable practices, increasingly, occupy event planners’ minds as they pass last year’s standards toward the goal of a completely “circular economy.” With this aim, every material and element of an event is recycled, repurposed, or reused.

In previous years, efforts were simplistic. They focused on the most known, most visible forms of waste: cups, straws, plates, etc. As attendees’ standards continually climb, sustainable efforts must intercept each material element of the occasion like flooring, signage, displays, giveaways, and more.

For attendees, this looks like eco-friendly swag such as recycled pencils, paper, bags, and even masks. Their destinations themselves are—more and more—chosen for how they have “gone green.”

Hybrid-Ready Venues

With the lessons of virtual-only events, the largest venues are rethinking their readiness. To redefine spaces, some convention centers, meeting spaces, and even small hotels are adding technology for the “hybrid” happening.

Hybrid meeting studios and special rooms allow in-person events to broadcast their presentations and entertainment to any corner of the world. But, balancing engagement of in-person and virtual attendees in unique, simultaneous ways may challenge those without the right event planner.

Still, the hybrid event promises greater attendance and more varied possibilities for providing ways that attendees interact with and promote the event.

Cutting-Edge Safety

Despite vaccine development and widespread inoculation, safety concerns continue, and technology traditionally used to measure foot traffic may be more useful than expected or intended.

For example, wearable Bluetooth wristbands have helped networking, marketing, and trade show events to identify prospects and collaborators nearby. Now, they can be used to signal when someone is too close. Such social distancing measures give attendees a sense of safety, security, and ease while they return to in-person engagements. Bluetooth is not the only option, however, since even 3D LiDar is able to chip in with audience flow and traffic data to ensure proper sanitization practices.

Likewise, these technologies can support contact tracing, giving event planners and others the ability to stamp out infections and cut threats. Seeing these interventions, attendees are able to fully participate with fewer safety concerns.

Close, Personal Incentive Trips

Incentive trips sometimes try to entice simply through the foreign and exotic. Since travel restrictions have imposed new barriers, event planners have become more ingenious with packaging and preparing domestic trips for smaller groups.

At Firebrand Event Productions, planning a program in a new destination means bringing service and creativity to our client’s vision. We see that many clients expect major recovery in the late quarter of 2021, and our team has adapted to the smaller, more select programs the year needs.

Even while bans and protocols might be in place, our team of architects, designers, engineers, florists, and painters coordinate and produce programs that excite employees and encourage them to meet performance metrics.

New DMC Prices

In the past, corporate leadership has been disappointed by lackluster events with unremarkable effects. The outcome of working with a large event planning company may have been as uninspiring as it was expensive, and, as business came to a halt, DMCs are rethinking their pricing once again.

Year-round cancellations and postponed productions meant incredible losses to DMCs that invested resources, time, and labor in events that just didn’t happen. Without revenue or reimbursement, they may charge differently with complex conditions for cancelling or putting off the events for which they work. These could be steep.

Changes in their pricing may or may not affect the quality of their productions, but it’s clear that smaller DMCs with a concentration of talent are poised to win more business and impress more attendees if they keep pricing simple and fair.

About Firebrand Event Productions

Firebrand is a corporate event design and logistics firm driven to captivate audiences through stories told in real-time.

A team of professionals in architecture, design, fabrication and logistics utilize the latest technology in paint, print, audio-visual and construction to deliver unbridled creativity and seamless operations.

Based in Miami, Florida, Firebrand has inspired audiences throughout North America, the Caribbean and beyond. A partner of industry leaders and emerging brands alike, the team has helped to ensure the success of four Olympic games, Fifa World Cup, a presidential inauguration, and decades of corporate events - each designed for the occasion. To depart from typical, get in touch to explore the possibilities.


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