As we begin 2022, we reflect on the challenges, and more importantly the successes of the past year – both within our industry and for our Castle events division. This reflection helps us to celebrate our efforts, learn from our blind spots and make positive strides in the new year.
A Year in Review
Last year continued the rollercoaster ride for the events industry. The climate of uncertainty lingered surrounding hosting and conducting in-person events. As 2021 kicked off, virtual events were still the primary focus of our clients’ event strategies. The summer brought optimism for in-person events cautiously returning, with travel picking up and clients dipping their toes back into incentive planning and long-range conference projects. Site inspections and smaller regional programs resumed, and active planning began for larger in-person events in Q4 and beyond. But as COVID cases began to surge again in late summer and fall with the Delta variant, and again with Omicron, we saw some events shift back to virtual. As we learned in 2020, the ability to adapt and remain flexible has become the norm and is critical to the success of any event program.
As planners, not having a solid roadmap to work with has undoubtedly challenged our comfort zone. However, the disruption has upped our game in terms of our skillset, creativity and resilience. In 2021, Castle Events tripled the number of events we produced from 2020, organizing programs with a combined total of 12,000 + attendees and 1,000 + speakers. We managed more than 425 sessions, 200 exhibits, 300 hours of virtual content and more than 150 rehearsals over 6 continents and multiple time zones. Events included large sales conferences, virtual ribbon-cutting ceremonies, awards presentations, fundraising galas, educational forums, corporate meetings and more.
What’s Next for the Events Industry?
There has been a fundamental shift in the meetings and events industry. Planners are still required to have knowledge of physical venues and in-person logistics – staying apprised of the latest openings, refurbishments, trends, destination updates, health and safety protocols and COVID news. But in the virtual world, technology has become the venue. As such, we have also become experts in the latest platforms and digital delivery tools, which offer a broader reach to participants.
As meeting technology has continued to evolve, new products and product updates have unfolded at a dizzying pace. Our team members learned and have become adept at a myriad of virtual event platforms including Cadence, Bizzabo, Pathable, Global Meet, Hubilo, On24, Vimeo, Hopin, GiveSmart (to name a few) – all with different programming functions and capabilities. Not to mention networking and gaming platforms and apps that integrate into and augment a standard Zoom meeting.
As we look to the year ahead, we are all primed and ready for in-person events to take the stage again, but with virtual events or virtual components still playing a significant role. We will be dusting off our suitcases, booking travel and fully embracing the hybrid production model. For Castle Events, one thing has and will remain constant – connection. We are in the business of connecting others – through technology, in-person gatherings or both. And we stay connected through close communication with our team, our clients and our partners to execute goals and achieve results whatever the venue. Whether virtually, in-person or hybrid, we look forward to a safe and successful year of event planning ahead.