What are the key considerations for post covid events?
- The introduction of hybrid events
- Health and safety as top priorities
- Speaker management
- A focus on content
- Staying informed
The prevailing COVID-19 situation has undoubtedly caused wide-scale disruptions in the events industry. Fortunately, there is an optimistic outlook for the sector as vaccines are rolled out, societies begin to emerge from the economic recession, and restrictions ease. Today, organizations are looking forward and searching for key considerations for post-COVID events.
The pandemic has not diminished the value of staging face-to-face events for audiences who are committed to returning as soon as restrictions are lifted. For good reason, live events revive brand awareness (especially for niche markets), promote B2B networking, increase employment opportunities, and generate client leads. Throughout COVID-19, the importance of staging events has remained consistent for both exhibitors and clients.
The Introduction Of Hybrid Events
COVID-19 has forced many companies to explore work-from-home options, relying heavily on the internet for video conferencing and other essential tasks. We are also witnessing the same paradigm shift in the way events are organized today with hybrid events.
By definition, hybrid events combine in-person events with virtual events. It’s clear that the hybrid format is here to stay as it has an enhanced audience reach, collects crucial engagement data, opens up more networking opportunities, reduces costs, offers more options for content sharing, and helps organizers keep their events resilient to physical disruptions (i.e., long-distance travel issues).
While it’s true that there are also challenges in conducting hybrid events (i.e., inadequate bandwidth support), the benefits far outweigh the challenges provided that a well-equipped venue is chosen. Even when the pandemic situation normalizes, hybrid events are expected to stay to complement meetings and exhibitions.
Health And Safety As Top Priorities
Even after COVID-19, many people will still have their fair share of doubts about attending live events. It is natural for them to prioritize their health and safety. Event organizers must still reassure attending participants.
Health protocols will continue to play a major role in how audiences would gather at events in the coming years. Safety advisories must be rolled out by event organizers to increase attendance confidence. These can involve information about the mandatory wearing of face masks and/or face shields, temperature checks, QR code contact tracing, regular sanitation, use of floor markers, capacity control, and many more.
COVID-19 has also led to a new norm of social distancing. Don’t automatically assume that an average temperature reading means that face masks, handwashing, and social distancing measures are no longer needed.
Instead, this should lead to more efficient registration procedures, safer break-out sessions, and restructured networking setups for a contact-free event. A good way to go about these is to opt for pre-packed ala carte meals, online registrations, using plexiglass barriers, and provision for digital business cards.
Consider also maintaining specialized staff or team onsite to review escalation plans if someone gets sick on site, understand the communication plan, and define measures for contacting local health authorities.
Event speakers are crucial in holding events post-COVID. Given that they deliver the content and host the event, there is a need to ensure they increase engagement without compromising everyone’s safety.
Organizers may upload the speaker’s keynote presentations online. If there are multiple speakers, all equipment (i.e., remotes, microphones) must also be sanitized in-between use. The chosen speaker must also be informed about how to facilitate online engagement for hybrid events, through innovative ideas like using digital icebreakers. Don’t expect your speakers to moderate virtual chat feeds. Instead, have a dedicated team to facilitate real-time questions.
Focus On Content
Post-COVID events are faced with the challenge to keep audiences engaged despite social distancing protocols. As such, you would want to focus on enhancing your content as much as possible.
The content should not only outline all the needed goals and information for the event but should also be exciting enough to capture audience’ attention. The content should focus on engaging the audience in all aspects through rolling out safe, yet interactive activities related to the topic.
As you continue to stage events post-COVID, it is imperative that event organizers stay informed about any changing government regulations.
Given the risks of the events and exhibition industry, regulations for holding meetings can change very quickly. There is still much to understand about the coronavirus, with mutations taking place. That being said, you must be ready to adapt quickly and communicate these with all your key stakeholders to make all the necessary adjustments.
The state of the events industry may be different from how it was before. So, consider these key considerations for staging events post-COVID.
While it’s true that the pandemic has not diminished the importance of face-to-face events, there are several concerns to be addressed such as safety, new avenues for hybrid events, and many more.
The good thing is that safety protocols have been put together by the MICE industry stakeholders in collaboration with the Department of Tourism and other relevant government agencies to restore the confidence of the general public in attending events. Best example is the B.E. SAFE Program of World Trade Center Metro Manila. This would definitely address public concerns on safety while continuing to contribute to rebuilding the economy.