Looking Ahead to 2021 Event Activation

Looking Ahead to 2021 Event Activation

When will we get back to in-person events and what might they look like? Our team has the answers.

2020 certainly didn’t turn out the way many of us had expected, but as we move further along in 2021, the question has shifted from “which event will be canceled next?” to “what will it take for events to happen safely and when will that be?”. For the TSMGI team, that question has been a focus as we move toward planning client activations in the new year. We sat down with members of our motorsports, endurance sports, and event merchandising teams to see how each of these industries are approaching the eventual return to in-person activities and what the key indicators will be as we move further into the new year.

“We’re very optimistic about the future events of our clients as the distribution and rollout of vaccines continue to move forward,” says Dan Elias, who oversees our promotion event sales team. “As more of the public becomes vaccinated, we’ll begin to see organizers feel more comfortable with events taking place and we’re excited to be a part of that. Most likely, that will occur in late summer, early fall.”

Cassie Burnside of the motorsports team agrees with the timetable Dan mentioned.

“We’re cautiously optimistic that events with on-site activations will be taking place starting later this summer,” said Burnside. “Two of the biggest indicators for our clients are the size of the event and location. Hopefully we’ll see large enough attendance numbers that make on-site activation worth the investment and COVID numbers will decrease with more people being vaccinated.”

While it will be a big step for events to even take place, another questions our team has to think about is how these events may be different. Aside from basic health and safety requirements like face masks, social distancing, and hand sanitizer, we also realized the actual activation of our events may need to be planned differently given consumer behavior and expectations.

“[Consumer behavior] will absolutely have changed, including general social consciousness of hygiene, person-to-person distancing in venues and in public, and even physical greetings like hand-shakes and high-fives at sporting events,” says Andrew McCarthy, who works with clients in the endurance and global sports spaces. “ultimately, I think the largest changes must come from event organizers and those activating events/experiences.”

These groups will need to provide the appropriate PPE and social distancing regulations if they hope to host a successful event. McCarthy adds, “It will be these new implementations, and the behavior of organizers and staff, that will make attendees and the general public feel safe enough to return to sports and entertainment events.”

While the hope is to get back to in-person events as soon as safely possible, our team is also conscious of some of the 2020 successes that will become part of the normal event experience moving forward. Some of these include virtual marathons, Zoom meet and greets with celebrities, and virtual tailgates for those who can’t make it to an event in-person.

As we continue to work toward the return of in-person events, there are still multiple opportunities for brands to take advantage of in the coming months. If you’re interested in seeing how sports sponsorship and promotional sales can be of benefit to your brand, we’re happy to sit down and talk!