Is it possible that COVID-19 restrictions could make your next live event even better?
It’s fairly safe to say that we will not be returning to the way life was before the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, it’s time for the events industry to look ahead and prepare for the next normal. Whatever that may be.
As event organisers begin planning and figuring out how to recover from the hard stop on face-to-face meetups, we need to be objective and ask, ‘could some of the pandemic restrictions actually make live events even better?’ Whilst they have perhaps seemed limiting, some restrictions are surely here to stay, so how we can utilise them to improve the communication and engagement at events?
Physicians at the University of Kansas Health System anticipated that the pandemic would change daily life for most people. This includes limiting person-to-person contact, like handshakes and hugs. Additionally, maintaining distance from others, or social distancing, will likely stay.
When ‘person-to-person contact’ is the foundation of live events, corporate event and meeting planners will need to think outside the box to ensure high levels of attendance to events and engagement onsite. Marketing strategies adapted and morphed along with lockdowns and restrictions during the pandemic, and this next phase is no different.
If you are an event planner, you may be asking yourself these questions. Do my guests even want to attend my event? How do I manage differing levels of risk accepted by guests? How do we communicate our company message effectively and ensure it resonates? How do we demonstrate we are an innovative brand? This is where it’s time to flip those restrictions on their heads, think outside the box and get creative.
Let’s your inner musician flow
A study by One Poll of 2,000 people found music is the number one way that people have coped in stressful situations. Music has helped lift moods during the pandemic. Could it help elevate your next event too?
It’s no longer enough to have walk-in and exit music, you may want to provide breakout areas (in person and virtually) that provides guests with a suitable space to decompress, relax and focus.
Think about how to use music to your advantage and how it could engage your audience and make your key company messages memorable. Not everyone has the same musical genre taste, could you tailor the music to hit the sweet spot of every individual at your event? A personalised and tailored event is powerful when it comes to brand engagement.
Step inside a virtual gaming world
Take inspiration from other industry sectors for your next event. For example, you may be responsible for planning pharmaceutical events but don’t shy away from taking ideas and creativity from what non-pharma brands are doing. Video game concerts have emerged recently as an innovative workaround to no live events. Minecraft and online music festivals having been popping up online.
Could this type of execution complement your event? Could you recreate your brand in a gaming environment and allow your virtual attendees to still feel part of the performance? If presented in a fun and virtual way, this new world approach could help your brand communicate a brilliant and unforgettable conference.
Understand and recognise your audience
If the days of handshakes, congratulatory embraces and physical award trophies are long gone then what does employee recognition look like at your awards ceremony this year? The likelihood is you may have a hybrid event, with some staff showing up in person, whilst others opt to dial in and engage remotely. This doesn’t mean you are any less able to show your appreciation, think smart and take time to understand their needs.
A recognition platform can provide a digital forum from which to thank staff, whilst digital rewards will go a lot further with your recipient than a glass trophy that will end up lost inside a cupboard. Understand what motivates your employees and tailor your celebratory and recognition events accordingly.
Hybrid is key, certainly for the medium term as people get used to being ‘back in the room’ but through AR and VR perhaps employees can collect loyalty points for attending. With 5G just around the corner it won’t be long before an employee hologram will come up on stage to virtually accept their award!
Pandemic restrictions may have placed limitations on physical touch, proximity to others, and event production but we can harness these for the better. Allow immersive sound, visual effects and digital technology to come to the forefront of your event planning, moving us as an industry fully into the 21st century.