Dear friends, It is my fondest hope that you and your family, friends, and colleagues are all safe and healthy. I struggled with what to write this month… or whether to write at all. Like many industries out there, event planning is taking a hit. I continue to help clients with speaker management as they move their conferences online and will do what I can to help in other ways when possible. Humans crave interaction, so I feel certain large in-person events will come back stronger than ever. The question, of course, is when. Other questions come to mind too. Where do we go from here? How will this change traditional conferences and summits? Will it change them at all? I’ve been giving it a lot of thought and here are a few changes I think we might see:
Event StructureIf social distancing remains a recommendation, conferences may plan for a reduced in-person crowd and provide a way to experience the presentations virtually. With the audience split between virtual and in-person attendees, some conferences may opt for smaller venues.
SanitationSanitation is where I think we will see the biggest changes. Indoor and outdoor events will see an increased presence of hand sanitizer and handwashing stations. Some events might include a Sanitation Station along with charging stations where attendees can stop to clean their keyboards, screens, and touchpads. I think all in-person events will see an increase in cleaning requirements in between presentations where tables and chairs are quickly wiped down.
PricingCurrently, hotels and venues have reduced prices to entice event hosts to book space. This in turn allows event hosts to reduce prices for attendees. We may see prices go down, especially if some of the revenue lost can be offset with ticket sales to virtual attendees.
SwagIt may be too soon to think about branded face masks and single-use gloves, but branded hand sanitizer, wet wipes and tissue packs will be sought after swag. We might even see vendors having fun with branded toilet paper… at least for a short while. That might get old quickly.
Moving Events OnlineIn the meantime, many in-person events are moving online, which is wonderful, but that doesn’t come without its challenges. Here are six tips to ensure you host an event that will bring attendees back next year whether you hold your event in-person or online:
- Choose the right platform to avoid inviting people to a live stream meeting that can’t accommodate the number of people who want to attend. Platforms like Hey Summit and Remo allow you to pre-load recorded presentations and schedule live presentations. Some platforms allow you to accommodate as many as 35k attendees for recorded presentations. Make sure the platform you choose matches your conference’s goals and can handle enough attendees so you don’t leave your guests disappointed.
- Include an integrated payment system and make sure your third party apps work well together. Test all integrations ahead of time to make sure the process of buying and receiving event tickets is seamless.
- Make sure session reminders are optional so people don’t get flooded with emails. Give them the option to opt out of reminders without opting out completely from the list.
- Start engaging your audience and get them excited before the conference starts. A nurture email sequence talking up the presentations and singing the praises of your speakers will get them excited about attending the sessions.
- Sponsors are just as important to virtual events as they are to in-person conferences. They can provide giveaways, provide funds to mail out swag and get branded items into the hands of virtual attendees.
- Use social media to drive traffic, have giveaways to build buzz, and set up Slack groups for networking. Slack won’t replace face-to-face communication, but it can help ease that feeling of isolation and allows attendees to interact with each other.