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Well. I think we can all agree the last year was a challenge. Personally, professionally, mentally — and for many physically. We have all read countless articles about the impact to our industry, our people, our clients and partners, but one thing is clear we are a resilient bunch!

The ability for our industry and frankly for the country to adapt and innovate as we struggled to cope with the realities of what was taking place, was remarkable.

The shift to digital and virtual solutions to communicate, engage, and drive business was swift and all encompassing. And as we prepare to move forward, there were some critical learnings that we must keep top of mind as we plan for 2021.

There were a lot of positives that came with the virtual tsunami. We adapted, we reached broader audiences, and the world became even more connected. Many of the digital event channels and programming work as well — if not better — on-line. Education, continuing education, internal meetings, channel updates, and regional meetings saw measurable improvement in attendance, reach, outside speaker access, and complexity reduction.

But we also had some challenges. Trade shows and exhibitor solutions, sponsorship activation, networking events, and reward celebrations in most cases, struggled to connect with audiences. It became clear that a new approach was needed if we are going to be more successful executing on this platform in 2021.

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As we look forward several key trends are emerging.

1.

The platform is not as important as the programming and the content.

2.

Hybrid events and the re-introduction of face-to-face programming will be the next opportunity.

3.

Resources have been hit hard; responsiveness and adaptability will be crucial characteristics.

4.

Specialization will play an even larger role.

5.

Virtual fatigue vs programming that your audiences want to attend

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Many of you may feel that these statements are obvious, however if you examine them more closely, they all contain a myriad of more complicated challenges that need to be addressed. Which is why I implore that we all examine how we are approaching the opportunity of 2021, who we are consulting with to collaborate on new approaches, and why many of us are resistant to engaging new partners for help.

One conversation could open an entirely new approach to solving a challenge, a problem, or enhancing a current solution.

Now is the time to seek new thinking, new technologies, new people, new solutions. The success of your event, of your company, and our industry demands it.

Jim Thornton for TBX

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