Event Trends 2022: The future of hybrid events

The pandemic is finally over and the event industry can return to face-to-face events. Or is it not quite that simple after all? We take a look at what will be important in the MICE industry in 2022.

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The Corona crisis is finally over and the event industry can return to face-to-face events. Or is it not quite that simple after all?

From the ongoing impact of the Corona pandemic on businesses and individuals to fundamental shifts in societal attitudes on social issues, there is an equal amount of influence on event trends in 2022.

This blog post takes a closer look at the expectations of digital event formats, incentives and sustainability efforts in the event industry. Event managers, stakeholders and the trade fair industry are equally affected by changing COVID guidelines, so the MICE industry must respond to the necessary requirements.

Sustainability and corporate responsibility will continue to play a central role and influence the development of the event industry well beyond 2022.

What event trends are important for successful events?

The importance of AR & VR

An event can be made more experiential for attendees by using many virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) options.

The AR / VR industry is forecast to grow by 25 percent over the next two years. While VR creates a complete virtual world, AR adds digital elements such as interactive maps or virtual tours to the real environment.

AR technology is an attractive and cost-effective option for many event organizers, which can be installed by each participant on their smartphone as an app. AR is used for networking, interaction and product demonstrations. Trade shows and large events are no longer seen as a pure marketing activity, but as an opportunity for networking and simplified contact building.

The average group size for online events in 2019 was less than 50 people in Europe; less than 100 people in the U.S. and Asia.

Due to technological advances, customers, consumers and businesses expect greater personalization of communications.

Man with VR glasses at an event


Sustainability and corporate responsibility are top priorities in 2022. The following points are increasingly coming to the fore in event planning:

  • Commissioning of sustainable event partners
  • Selection of sustainable venues (Green Venues)
  • Short transport routes for a low ecological footprint
  • Exhibition and event venues with extensive sustainability certifications (LEED, APEX, Green Key, ASTM, Green Leaders)
  • Digital technologies replace plastic & paper
  • Reduction of water and energy consumption
  • Waste prevention at the event location
  • Food utilization and offer of local food and beverages

There are now various software providers that facilitate a search for ideal venues based on sustainable criteria.

How will digital events evolve?

Artificial intelligence (AI) will be increasingly used in the coming years to support event organizers from planning to data analysis.

AI will suggest searches for potential attendees, venues and times , automate ticketing, track leads , use facial recognition to simplify registration, and personalize experiences.

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Are hybrid events now the optimal way to go?

The future is clearly moving toward hybrid events that appeal to both virtual and in-the-flesh audiences. Hybrid event trends offer some advantages that are already being exploited by event organizers:

  • Cost savings due to virtual networking and climate-neutral implementation
  • Addressing the target group globally and increasing the reach

Still, there are some reservations about online events, because not all participants can adjust equally to technical and time requirements.

Virtual event platforms have responded to the issue of different time zones by offering users helpful tools to coordinate program events.

Furthermore, the following obstacles exist with this form of event:

  • Communicative networking is limited to social media, forums and chats
  • The virtual and physical event differs for participants due to different times and time zones

Virtual event trends have grown in number in recent years, making augmented reality experiences and 3D integrations a welcome alternative for event organizers. AR technologies can be used for product demonstrations, networking, entertainment, interactive tours, as well as virtual participation.

Furthermore, AR technologies are available for most smartphones and can be integrated into the flow of online events. Digital maps and virtual tours facilitate access to the venue, trade fair and congress center.

Hybrid events are generally more climate-neutral than face-to-face events, cost-effective and appeal to a larger target group.

Many event organizers have responded to their customers' needs by investing in extensive software and hybrid technology for virtual events.

Reading Tip: 

The future of events: Hybrid Events

Is the trend going back to face-to-face events?

American Express (AMEX) released a forecast for the return of in-person live events in its Global Meetings and Events Forecast 2022. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said the number of face-to-face events will return to pre-pandemic levels.

Experts share this opinion, as the budgeted event budget to win back attendees in 2022 has been significantly increased. They say the MICE industry already has limited availability for events in 2022.

According to the AMEX survey, 81 percent of events were feasible as face-to-face events despite COVID-related regulations.

The future holds a busy 2022 for popular venues, so additional event staff will need to be hired and contingency plans for staffing shortages will need to be developed.

Especially during the pandemic, event trends in contactless technologies, digital communications and social hygiene concepts have emerged to ensure safe handling during the event.

The safety of attendees, travelers and event organizers alike must be considered and has become an essential part of event planning in 2022.

Is the topic of sustainability also becoming more relevant at events?

In the last two years, which were heavily influenced by the pandemic and an imposed trade fair ban, around 150 million euros were invested in Germany in the modernization of the climate-neutral trade fair industry and the expansion of e-mobility. The German trade show industry is to be climate-neutral by 2040 and 100 percent supplied with green electricity by 2025 at the latest.

The industry-wide sustainability standards include reusable booth construction, economical water consumption, reduction of Co2 emissions, avoidance of food waste, as well as bundling of trade show logistics and improved passenger transportation to and from the show.

The umbrella organization of the German trade fair industry sees the future of sustainable measures as part of the solution on the way to a climate-neutral trade fair industry.

The target agreements have already been set in the fall of 2021 by more than 30 experts from the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry AUMA.

In the coming years, a further 450 million euros have been budgeted for state investments and modernization measures. The motto of the target agreement can be summarized in a few words: Reduce - Reuse - Recycle.

Reading Tip: Sustainable events - What does it depend on?

Are there enough skilled personnel for the MICE industry?

A brain drain can be observed in a large number of industries, which was also addressed during the International Confex 2021 conference. Employees have higher expectations of their working environment and attach greater importance to personal well-being, mental health and a good work-life balance in the company. The MICE industry could particularly benefit from incentives for good employees, as incentives are created to continue working for the company.


New technologies, artificial intelligence (AI) as well as augmented reality (AR) will be increasingly used in event planning. This will create personalized experiences for the online participants of hybrid events and build a long-term customer relationship .

Climate neutrality and sustainability are central themes of Event Trends 2022, which commit companies and individuals to reducing their impact on the environment. Health and safety standards will continue to play a central role in event planning.

Other interesting articles:
The top 10 event trends for 2024

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