It’s no secret that the world at large has been forced to change dramatically in the past six months, and event planning is no different.
With 26 million people employed by the event industry, and 1.5 billion people participating in business events worldwide, a lot of people depend on the eventual return of these types of gatherings. That being said, attendees and employees alike want to feel that they are entering a safe environment and not putting themselves, and by association their loved ones, at a higher risk for infection of COVID-19. So, until there is a widespread vaccine and/or treatment, event planning will have to look a bit different.
It will be important going forward, especially in the immediate future, to take safety precautions into consideration when event planning, while also providing the expected value to attendees and vendors.
So let’s talk about it! Here are some ways that you can improve your events going forward!
5 Ways Event Planning Should Pivot After COVID-19
Re-evaluate contracts and insurance policies.
According to a recent PCMA survey, 81% of event professionals say “they will be more specific with wording of contract language, specifically surrounding cancellations…” And that makes sense!
Force majeure clauses in contracts usually exempt both parties from liability when extraordinary circumstances come into play. There are scarce circumstances more extraordinary than a global pandemic. How will that affect your next event? How can you evaluate that risk to reduce loss, as well as treating your vendors, attendees, etc. fairly?
Those questions and more will be important to consider when event planning, so it’s no surprise that the majority of industry professionals are already making those adjustments.
Maintain social distancing requirements.
Social distancing will be a necessary evil when going forward with any type of event, especially ones that are meant to be for professional networking. In the not-so-distant past, networking events consisted of a lot of hand-shaking and face time between attendees and vendors alike. There are, however, a few ways to incorporate social distancing into your next event.
Instead of seating people right next to each other when listening to keynote speakers, for example, place each chair the recommended six feet apart. Or, if you have the resources, consider using plastic partitions, a trend that has become increasingly popular in restaurants as they reopen around the country.
You may also want to consider encouraging attendees to engage in networking while sitting down. It may prove a bit cumbersome, but people will understand. This will ensure that everyone maintains a safe distance from each other while still making important industry connections.
Place hand-sanitizing stations around the venue.
Another way to make people feel a bit safer at your next event is by installing hand-sanitizing stations around the venue. This can be as simple as placing high-top tables around the space with large hand sanitizer dispensers on top.
You can even work them into the decor! Place a table-cloth over the table, and slap a branded sticker on the bottle of hand sanitizer. You can even turn these types of sanitizing products into promotional items. Order branded wet wipes, travel-size bottles of hand sanitizer and even masks to give out to attendees for free. They will take these items out into the world with them to use and show to friends.
Pro tip: branded sanitizers and masks will also make great social media content! Post pictures on your own channels with a branded hashtag, and encourage others to do the same. Not only will this generate buzz about the event, but it will also demonstrate your commitment to health and safety guidelines!
Transform an in-person event to a hybrid event.
All the industry trends point to hybrid events as the future of event planning. A hybrid event will consist of having smaller crowds than normal while live streaming to a broader audience over a variety of digital platforms. There are so many ways you can benefit from live streaming your next event, but let’s focus on the value it can provide to attendees for a minute.
As it was stated earlier, it is important to make in-person participants feel as safe as possible when they are at your event. Smaller crowd sizes will help them feel more secure in that respect, as well as make social distancing easier to accomplish. Although the in-person crowd will be smaller than events past, live streaming will lengthen your reach to potential attendees across the globe! It will also ensure that your vendors and speakers are offered the opportunity to market themselves to people who could not attend your event otherwise.
Pro tip: include a “chat” feature in your live stream. When speakers are fielding questions from the audience, they can also have access to the live stream chat to read incoming questions aloud and answer them for in-person and virtual guests alike.
Make use of mobile apps and social media.
Prior to the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S., many event planners were already making widespread use of mobile apps. According to corporateeventnews.com, 80% of all events included the use of mobile apps, with an average of three-quarters of attendees downloading the apps. The use of this technology will prove even more effective during socially distanced events.
Attendees can use the mobile app to check in, have simple questions answered by an AI chatbot and keep track of the itinerary. Additionally, instead of passing around an unsanitary microphone, they can also use the app to submit questions to speakers. If you are live streaming the event, you can offer this option to virtual attendees, as well.
While hiring a developer to create a mobile app may sound like a pricey investment for the current moment, it doesn’t have to be! Give vendors, or other relevant companies or websites, the opportunity to display paid ads on your app. By using advertisements to monetize the mobile app, you can find a way to recoup the investment you made in its development (or maybe even make a profit).
While event planning certainly took a substantial hit due to the current pandemic, the industry is not going anywhere. If anything, the current circumstances further proved to the world how much we really need social interaction.
Take these tips into consideration when planning your next business or networking event, and consult the CDC best practices. Let’s set an example to the world of how events can come back stronger and better than ever!
Find out more about how to pivot your event planning services at The Event Planner Expo 2020! This year we are going virtual!