What does "Freedom Day" really mean for the events industry?

Things aren’t going back to normal just yet – and in some ways they never will.

Whichever camp you consider yourself to be in, yesterday was a momentous day for England.  Heralded as Freedom Day, July 19th saw the single biggest changes to COVID restrictions since the first national lockdown in March 2020.

In our industry, we are naturally feeling optimistic.  Live theatre and music concerts are back, and mass events – such as festivals – can go ahead.

This bodes well for a sector that has had to reimagine its entire existence over the past 18 months.  Almost overnight, organisations – both B2C and B2B – had to rethink, re-plan and redesign their event programmes, as virtual became the only way to reach and engage audiences.  Before the pandemic, we were already moving naturally into the digital sphere, but COVID accelerated this move from several years to mere months.

That said, things aren’t going back to normal just yet – and in some ways, they won’t ever.  This shared experience has changed us all, both socially and emotionally, and its impact is far-reaching.  Many of us feel understandably cautious about the COVID restrictions all but lifting completely yesterday, while others are more than ready to embrace the freedom this brings.

Organisations need to bear this spectrum of feelings in mind when planning their communications and event strategies in the coming months.  The journey out of the pandemic will not be the same for everyone, but everyone’s needs and preferences must be taken into account and treated with parity.

Here’s the good news: if there’s one thing the events industry has mastered during COVID, it’s adaptability.  Rolling with the punches, taking it in our stride … whatever you want to call it, our industry is now more agile and more focused on creative, authentic and effective audience engagement than ever before.

The challenges we face now are in fact new possibilities, an opportunity to rethink old paradigms and go beyond the business-as-usual approach.  If we design communications and event programmes with a human-first approach, we can reinvent the nature of the relationship with our different audiences to focus on what each one wants and needs right now, rather than the mechanics of delivering it – thus catering to all preferences.

Now that is what I call a silver lining!

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