It’s time to ask ourselves what we can expect as far as business event trends for 2022 in Aotearoa is concerned. Dare we even go there?

Turbulent, volatile, fickle, all-over-the-place, flip-flopping, capricious, mercurial, unstable, temperamental, changeable, unsettled, chaotic, up-in the-air, unreliable.

I can go on.

There are plenty of words to describe the past few years.

So when it’s time to have a look at what the year is going to bring for business events in 2022 in Aotearoa…  Do we even dare go there?

I mean…

The whole situation is more changeable than our weather in Aotearoa. And that’s saying a lot!

But I’ll tell you what. I’m going to do it anyway.

Let’s embark on some 2022 business events crystal ball gazing.

It’ll be fun! 🤣

Looking back

But before we discuss NZ Business event trends in 2022, let’s do some quick reflection on what 2021 threw us first.

I think the business event sector needs to pat its own back for a second.

As one of the industries who was initially most affected by the challenges that were sprung upon us at the start of 2020, the world of business events was really quick in rolling with the punches and re-inventing itself.

As a result, 2021 was a busy year for us. Adjusting, learning new skills, and … making a success of a bum-situation.

Hybrid events, virtual events, pivot…

It became part of our daily lingo.

Are we there yet?

Beckie’s words nail the sentiment:

‘We came, we saw, and well …. we’re still conquering what has proven to be one of the most challenging times for the event industry.’

And while we’re now well past the AAAARGH-stage, there’s still plenty of learning to be done for business events in 2022 in Aotearoa.

Auaha’s Amy puts it like this:

‘The status quo is not an option. We need to keep moving forward. Right now, in these changing (and challenging) times, PD (personal development) is more important than ever. You need to keep setting professional goals. Break them down into actionable steps and put a date on it. Identify any potential hurdles and find an accountability partner or a mentor to keep the progress in check.’  

So… 2022?

Looking Ahead At Business Event Trends For 2022

2022 Business Event Trend 1 : More Hybrid Events

With positive cases now through the roof, and Kiwis for the first time experiencing the full rage of the pandemic, Virtual Events are the go-to. Sure, we’re in the ‘RED’ setting of the Traffic Light System (a.k.a. Covid Protection Framework) which means up to 100 people can gather. But reality is that, right here, right now, the safety of the home or the office feels the smarter choice.

But that’s not how it will be for the entire year!

Once this current Covid tantrum settles, hybrid events will be back on the menu. It allows the best of both worlds.

  1. It gives people a choice. In person-events are still the base-line, but let’s be honest, not everybody feels comfortable being in a room full of people. And that vibe may linger for a while to come.
  2. As we’ve dabbled in virtual and hybrid events, experience has shown that they have advantages. Virtual and Hybrid events open up the event to participants who may not have otherwise been able to attend.
  3. And also, it cuts travel and accommodation cost.

My forecast for business event trends to expect in 2022 in Aotearoa:  because of the additional cost of an AV team for hybrid events, it’s going to be 50/50 between hybrid and virtual events.

2022 Business Event Trend 2: Vaccination Certificates

They won’t be with us forever, but for now, they’re a fact of life. And you’ll need one to attend a physical event.

I expect venues and event managers will come up with a system to make the show-me-your-vaccine-certificate-on-the-day-of-the-event-access less painful.

2022 Business Event Trend 3: Micro-events

Smaller events (up to 100 people) were already more prominent in 2021 and I expect  the trend to continue in 2022. It allows in-person events to continue even under ‘RED’.

2022 Business Event Trend 4: Digital Engagement Tools

More sophisticated digital engagement tools are, again, something that we already saw in 2021. But we expect it to gain momentum in 2022.

I also expect them to improve with leaps and bounds as we go along. It’s awesome to see they now allow even in-person and virtual delegates to connect with each other.

2022 Business Event Trend 5: Pushing The Boundaries Of In-Person Events

Let’s be honest for a minute here.

When push comes to shove, most people prefer in-person events. Don’t get me wrong, I think virtual and hybrid events have certain advantages and they are here to stay.

So I think we’ll see people come up with new ways to have in-person events. And some of the innovation from hybrid and virtual events will no-doubt trickle through to in-person events.

But above all…

As for my hopes and dreams for NZ Business event trends in 2022, I love how the business events industry has used the pandemic as an opportunity to innovate, re-think the experience, and consider what people want out of a business event (inspirational content vs. an experience to talk about).

But more than anything, it makes my heart sing when I think about how suppliers and event managers have been looking out for each other; looking beyond their own ROI.

I think it’s been part of the secret of why, against all odds, we’ve been doing ok.

So, I wish this is the biggest trend of all: that we can carry this with us into the future: empathy and human relationships above all.