Why IRL Events are More Important Than Ever for Growth and Sanity

By Patrick Lafferty

As remote and hybrid work becomes the norm, face time (the OG face time, not the FB Facetime) with clients and teams remains scarce. If your business depends on building meaningful relationships with clients, this poses a serious challenge: How do you drive new business when you can’t count on creating connections in the conference room or the cantina?

You lean into the shared craving for human contact.

The rise of corporate events amid remote work

Even though the bulk of us (more than 90% apparently) are happy working from home or at the least on a hybrid schedule, this siloed and soloed way of doing business has also left many missing genuine human fellowship.

There’s a growing dichotomy between the desire for camaraderie and the desire for comfort and choice. The people opting out of going into the office are the same people who are jumping at the chance to return to the IRL experiences they want to participate in—going out to dinner, buying tickets to shows, booking a vacation (travel to Europe from the U.S., for example, is slated to spike).

If you combine the yearning to work remotely with the eagerness to connect and experience things in person, you logically land at meeting clients and prospective clients in “remote” or different locations. In other words, creating destination events that combine the engagement of social gatherings and the ability to advance business.

It’s why live events—especially for brands—have grown in popularity and priority as a key way, if not the only way now, for companies to gather existing partners, attract new clients and foster a sense of belonging among employees.

Tips for navigating this cultural change

This year, companies are expected to spend 83% more on corporate events, proving allocating funds to event budgets is a great place to start.

Of course, crucial to any event is attendance. How can you get potential clients, existing partners and employees to show up? Lean into their interests. Be it food, music or sports, tap into their passions and trends to grab their attention and make your event a must-attend.

Additionally, make it easy for a potential client to justify to whomever they need to endorse (officially or unofficially) their time and travel by ensuring there are definable deliverables, both with what you plan to do at the gathering and, ideally, other opportunities for business development while on-site.

As far as form goes, use these two factors to drive that decision.

  1. Is your goal to attract new business by dominating press coverage? Then, an Instagrammable pop-up or an immersive, IP-driven experience could offer the perfect platform for building momentum.
  2. If your goal is to use your status as an informed thought leader to bring new partners into the fold, an inspired conference with educational breakout sessions, and big-draw speakers, may be more in line with your audience’s interests.

The bottom line

Humans need and want to be together. Now that they have much more choice and freedom in how and where they spend their time, brands have to allocate spend to meet new clients, customers and employees not just where they are but where they want to be. Developing meaningful experiences that deliver on human needs and business needs enables everyone to win.