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The Evolution of Events During the COVID-19 Era

Empty round banquet tables on the Washington DC National Mall
An "Empty Event" hosted by Live Events Coalition and DC Event Coalition to illustrate job loss in the events industry due to COVID-19. PHOTO: MICHAEL KRESS PHOTOGRAPHY

The global events industry generates $621.4 billion of direct GDP and supports more than 10 million jobs worldwide, yet millions of event professionals are currently out of work and struggling to make ends meet in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic.

Since March of 2020, countless events have been canceled across the globe from Broadway and New York Fashion Week shows to large-scale tech conferences like SXSW and mega music festivals like Coachella. The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo has also been postponed until 2021. It's safe to say that the economic impact of COVID-19 on the industry has been significant.

While event professionals have struggled to stay employed, brands have been forced to tweak their experiential and digital marketing strategies to adapt to the new norm of living and working with COVID-19.

When the coronavirus first hit, Zoom and other video conferencing platforms became overwhelmingly popular. Recently, however, we've seen the resurgence of live brand activations as organizations shift to comply with social distancing policies and safe events practices.

Rooftop with spaced out wooden chairs on sand with a wooden circular runway and palm trees in the background

Fashion Designer, Jason Wu, took the socially distant approach for his latest Tulum-inspired New York Fashion Week runway show held on a rooftop in NYC.

While Prada Group brands, Prada and Miu Miu, fused physical experiences with digital technology to livestream their shows on their websites and social media platforms.

Runway model in all black walking in a yellow room with hanging cameras
 fashion models walking down a pink sports themed runway lined with walls of livestream video screens

Dermalogica, a skincare company that typically hosts at least four influencer events a year, hosted its first in-person launch in early September. The event was held in Los Angeles and hosted 28 influencers for a drive in masque and movie.

All guests and staff were required to report a negative Coronavirus test and attendees were instructed to remain in their vehicles for the full duration of the event. Separate product stations were set up next to each parking space with a masterclass product demonstration displayed on a large movie screen within each vehicles view.

As we continue to see the drive in trend continue this fall, the most trending events this season appears to be drive-through Halloween experiences such as The Stranger Things Drive-Into Experience, Huluween Drive-In and Haunt O'Ween LA.

Hulu's first-ever Huluween Drive-In experience features a haunted drive-through forest and four nights of spooky movies. Haunt O'Ween LA features an immersive drive-through tunnel and door to door trick or treating where costumed performers will distribute candies at a safe distance using poles and buckets.

Car driving through Haunt'Oween LA sign with lit pumpkins

While we're confident that the events industry will rebound stronger and better than before, it will be interesting to see how much it will continue to evolve through 2021 as in-person events continue to make its reappearance.


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