Insight: Issue 07 (12th August)
It’s that time of the week again, folks. . .
In today’s events insight, we have: news of PLASA’s #WeMakeEvents #RedAlert campaign; 5 event trends to keep on your radar; 7 new platforms and services to streamline your virtual events; how to make virtual negotiations as smooth as their F2F equivalent; what it’s *actually like* to return to F2F meetings (from someone who’s actually done it!); and introducing the potential saviour of live events: ’event bubbles’…Intrigued? Read on.
Twitter was blowing up yesterday with snapshots of the ‘Red Alert Day of Action’ courtesy of PLASA’s #WeMakeEvents campaign. They hosted major outdoor events in London and across the UK on Tuesday 11 August, calling on the UK government to provide meaningful support for the events industry and its 1m highly-skilled workers—through grants (not loans) and extensions of the furlough and self-employment schemes.
If you weren’t able to take part on the day, you can still add your name to the campaign.
5 event trends to keep on your radar
Given yesterday’s events, it goes without saying that the future of events is uncertain. And a return to live events depends on a number of unpredictable factors: the precarious state of the economy, ongoing restrictions on travel, progress towards a vaccine and, of course, the dreaded ‘second peak’…But we’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again—event profs are a resilient bunch, and our industry will persevere.
To help spread this hopeful message, Event Manager Blog organised a virtual event which focused on ‘The Future of the Event Industry’—with 22 industry leaders sharing insights on every facet of events, attracting an audience of 10k event profs. A detailed write-up is in the pipeline, but here are 5 key takeaways in the meantime:
- Limit density. The best way to keep COVID-19 at bay is to keep people apart—but events exist to do, you know, the exact opposite. That means event planners need to focus on attendee density; either by lowering head-counts, or scaling up venues.
- Emotions > experience. Undeniably, virtual events are limited in terms of their ability to engage all the senses. The key is to engage your audience on an emotional level, by creating content that resonates with them.
- Try new formats. Virtual and hybrid events have presented a unique opportunity to challenge the status quo. So make the most of it by alternating between live and on-demand content.
- Enforce your own rules. Compliance to safety protocols is a must for events to resume. If you say masks are mandatory, make sure people wear them; if you say social distancing is mandatory, make sure people stay 6 feet apart.
- Diversify your supply chain. Most event companies are not in a position to be able to hire new staff right now, but another way to diversify is through partnerships. Supporting black-owned businesses is something you can do *right now*.
What’s new in virtual events?
If you’re intrigued by number 3 on that list, but have no clue where to begin, Meetings Net has you covered with their 7 new platforms and services for virtual experiences. It’s a varied list—ranging an augmented/virtual reality company that creates virtual expos and showrooms, to an online meetings platform that specialises in academic conferences and scholarly videos—so there’s a service for all types of virtual gathering.
In other words, whatever your virtual vision, there’s a company out there that can help you bring it to life.
Are virtual negotiations harder than F2F?
The obvious answer is, of course, ‘yes’. As Prof Leigh Thompson of Northwestern University points out, negotiators encounter a number of problems when working remotely via email, phone, and video conference:
“It’s harder because oftentimes we just use at the virtual table what has worked in person, and then we kind of scratch our heads and wonder why things didn’t quite go the way they would have had [the negotiation] been face to face.”
Thankfully, the Harvard Business Review podcast has a new episode called ‘Adapting Negotiations to a Remote World’—where, in just 24 minutes, you’ll learn all the basics of virtual diplomacy; from ‘e-charisma’ to ‘language style matching’. (Don’t worry, we had to google those too.)
What’s it *really* like to return to F2F events?
Over the last couple of months, there have been *a lot* of articles discussing the reality of returning to face-to-face events after lockdown. But these were all educated guesswork, of course, as no-one had actually experienced it yet. Until now.
JT Long at Smart Meetings has written about her personal experience of shaking the dust off her suitcase and travelling to her first F2F event since the start of the pandemic. She details the whole experience—from getting on the plane, to arriving at the venue; from receiving a hygiene-conscious delegate pack, to getting to grips with all the new safety protocols. But most importantly of all, she talks about what it felt like to finally experience a post-lockdown event, and how nerve-wracking it was to, in her own words, “go first”.
Whether you’re anxious about returning to F2F events, or are desperate to do so, it’s essential reading.
Should we be creating ‘event bubbles’?
As more live events resume, and delegates start sharing Long’s back-to-events experience, event planners will continue brainstorming ideas for how to keep delegates as safe as possible. One such idea is the creation of ‘event bubbles’—an idea that’s more robust than it sounds…
…yeah, nothing like that.
Event bubbles involve testing potential attendees a couple of days before an event—those who test negative would be admitted; those who test positive would get a refund. It’s an interesting idea, and while it doesn’t remove risk altogether (delegates could potentially become infected between the test and the event), it’s certainly worth exploring. And Event Manager Blog has made a start, discussing all the pros and cons and asking: will event bubbles work?
If not, we’ll call inflatable event bubbles ‘plan B’.
Team Cameron, over and out.