2022 Events Forecast

Gail Davis, 27 January 2022

It’s been 21 months since COVID-19 made its grand entrance and we continue to have discussions─with clients and speakers alike─regarding contracts, in-person events, and virtual fees. Is there any end in sight for the ongoing uncertainties COVID has imposed on the speaking industry? Probably not. You read that right! Probably not.

Virtual events are here to stay. They have evolved into a popular option where they are now considered an “and” versus an “instead of” solution. We’ve learned that there are instances where virtual is actually the best format.

Jeff Civillico virtual eventJeff Civillico virutal event.

We’ve also been reminded that we don’t know what we don’t know. For months we encouraged every client to address virtual contingencies in their contracts. At the tail end of 2021, speakers and clients were chomping at the bit to get back to in-person events. However, when the tsunami of the Omicron variant hit, we saw a surge in client requests to convert back to virtual and the speakers were hesitant to travel. I laugh now at some contract language that states “decisions will be made 30-60 days out based on travel restrictions.” The days of making predictions one to two months out are long gone! 

Here is my advice for 2022: keep a virtual option in your back pocket no matter what. It is always better to address potential fee reductions for converting to virtual events in the initial contract. We’ve learned the value of anticipating scenarios when writing contracts, which enables us to anticipate rather than explore alternative options.

Mutual respect is the key ingredient for finding a workable solution. 

We understand clients are under the gun making decisions that impact their employees. We are also seeing speakers holding dates for in-person events and declining virtual events, which makes getting a discount tough when clients want to convert to virtual at the last minute. Most speakers are willing to offer a little something extra in lieu of a reduced fee. One speaker offered a fireside chat with an executive, ready and available for distribution within 30 days of the event. It’s like getting an extra customized presentation!

This being said, in 2021 GDA successfully held over 110 in-person events that went off without a hitch. We are aware of the pent-up demand for in-person events and are actively helping clients plan for more face-to-face experiences in 2022. 

GDA Senior Event Manager onsite with Josh Shipp.

Empathy, patience, and systematic approach go a long way in smoothly navigating the unknown. It is our hope that by sharing these valuable lessons, we can learn and grow together in the coming year. Cheers to 2022!