The future of in-person events in a post COVID-19 world 

By Eric Hughey & Rebeka Dickerson of the GenWhy Leaders Podcast, and Kristin Hems of Third Avenue Events

You walk up to an event in your mask only to meet someone whose face you will remember solely by their eyes. You do not shake their hand, but have a conversation that could be normally be mistaken for a verbal fight, because you are six feet apart. Is this an event people would desire to attend? Is this how large gatherings are going to be in the future? These are questions that event planners are asking themselves in this COVID-19 world we live in.

It is no secret that jobs and businesses have been affected by COVID-19, but event planning might be one of the most fascinating when it comes to hypothesizing what the future will look like.

Amid the pandemic, Third Avenue Events in Leawood surveyed their clients, hotel partners, travel directors, and social media followers to conduct some primary, first-party research. Here are some of the key takeaways.  

Take the basic precautions


In the next six months, with some precautionary changes, 50 percent of people will be comfortable and ready to attend an in-person event before the end of 2020. While it is difficult to network and get to know others while wearing masks at social events, most event attendees would feel comfortable wearing masks when possible, social distancing and sanitizing highly trafficked areas at least a couple times a day.


Multiple surges

Even though people may be more optimistic come fall, a lot of people are still afraid of multiple surges and want to see a vaccine. The area is currently going through a second surge after local businesses have reopened in Kansas City during June. If there is a significant enough surge again that puts residents back inside, this will of course skew the data.

Contract changes

There will be changes in the way events are contracted. Pre-COVID-19, larger events that were canceled did not get companies out of hotel contracts and left most companies with hefty fees. New clauses may be put in place to protect businesses if the event is canceled. The cost of events may increase when triple the amount of space is needed for everyone to stay six feet apart. 

Avoid being airborne (literally)

One of the largest areas of concern people have about traveling during COVID-19 is getting on an airplane and being at the airport. It could be to a company’s advantage to set up a local or regional event to which people can drive.

In the end, only time will tell how in-person events are conducted for 2020 and beyond. Although some video conference platforms have almost outgrown themselves, virtual events cannot and will never take the place of in-person events, because the same personal connection cannot be emulated through a screen. 

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About the GenWhy Leaders Podcast:

Eric Hughley hosts the GenWhy Leaders Podcast geared toward Millennials. The GenWhy Leaders Podcast has a mission of helping millennials become the next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs. For more information, visit genwhyleaders.com or email genwhyleaders@gmail.com