Insight: Issue 08 (19th August)
Are you ready . . . for in-person events?
Then we reckon you’ll like the first story in today’s insight…
We’re sharing news of…*drum roll*…the first socially-distanced events layout in Scotland, courtesy of our friends at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange; advice on how to plan for modified in-person gatherings; new resources from Marriott about getting back to meetings; 4 tips for online event success; how other countries are returning to live events, and how we can learn from them; plus some sobering statistics and a rallying cry to support our events industry…AKA, an emotional rollercoaster.
Edinburgh Corn Exchange launches Scotland’s first socially-distanced events layout
We’re excited to share that our partners and good pals over at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange have launched Scotland’s first socially-distanced events layout, with the help of the Cameron squad. This follows the successful opening of their socially-distanced 250-person beer garden last month, so they’re well and truly prepared to meet all government regulations and keep attendees safe. These are just a few of the measures we’ve helped them put into practice:
- Safe, private, wipeable walled booths for up to 6 guests.
- Walkways up to 4m in width, allowing delegates to keep their distance.
- A huge screen (one of Edinburgh’s largest, in fact…) which is visible from all booths.
- New ‘socially safe’ capacity of 220-330 (compared to 3,000 pre-COVID).
With this new set-up, they’re proving to the UK government that events can, and should, be put back on the agenda—especially low-risk business events, which are safer to run than most (e.g. easier to control crowds, no loud music forcing people to stand close together, no risk of alcohol-influenced behaviour, and so on…).
As you’ll see, they’re “good to go!”…
Planning for modified in-person events
It isn’t just event profs who are raring to go; according to Meetings Mean Business, 8 out of 10 people who are working from home miss in-person events. And even though this pandemic is far from over, the chatter in our industry is slowly starting to shift from ‘pivoting to virtual’ to returning to F2F events and meetings.
The Event Leadership Institute is weighing in on the discussion with a few tips around preparing for modified in-person events:
- Plan for phases. No matter how keen we all are, the return to in-person gatherings won’t be swift. Planners should expect a slower phased approach, based on careful budget and timeline planning.
- Understand the psychological shifts. Understandably, audience mentalities have shifted, and people will be thinking very carefully about whether they want to attend events in person. Safety precautions and good old-fashioned empathy will be key to making sure attendees feel safe.
- Develop a list of reliable sources. COVID-19 advice is changing all the time, and it can be overwhelming trying to keep up—but developing a succinct list of trusted voices and reliable data sources will help you save time and cut through the noise.
Marriott introduces new meeting guidelines
Back in April, Marriott rolled out their plan for cleaner, safer properties—including their Commitment to Clean guidelines, which outlined their updated hygiene and infection prevention measures for public spaces and guest rooms across their hotels. Now they’re upping the ante with new resources for getting back to meetings, to inspire confidence and help people feel comfortable about stepping back into the boardroom.
These resources are available at marriottbonvoyevents.com and include animated videos detailing an event planner’s journey, as well as best practices to help event organisers and attendees navigate meetings in a COVID world. As the situation evolves, the Marriott team will update the guidance to reflect changes in best practice—aligning with their organisational belief that “success is never final”. We like it.
4 tips for online event success
For those of us who are not quite ready to take the plunge and return to in-person meetings, virtual events will continue to be our saviour. And if you’re looking for ways to improve and innovate, Smart Meetings has some tips for online event success:
- Make the most of time-saving technologies. Using event apps can help you to reduce administrator time, cut costs, improve the event layout, or enhance the user experience. If you tick all 4 of those boxes, you’re winning.
- Think about flow & keep it succinct. Attention spans are notoriously short online, and attendees want you to get to the point quickly. So ditch the non-essential info and stick to the most meaningful messages.
- Personalisation is key. Today’s consumer takes personalisation for granted, so a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach just won’t cut it anymore. Get to know your audiences and draw up persona profiles to figure out their interests and expectations.
- Don’t overlook international delegates. If you’re organising an international event, remember to consider multiple languages. There are plenty of cloud platforms out there that can provide remote, simultaneous interpreting for all kinds of events.
Slow & steady: event recovery in Seoul
Whilst UK event profs remain in limbo, we’ve been keeping a close eye on how other countries are returning to events. Over in Korea, event organisers in Seoul are now getting back to work—slowly but surely.
Seoul cautiously resumed live events back in June. The first large-scale event to take place post-lockdown was the Seoul International Dental Exhibition and Scientific Congress (that’s a mouthful, so we’ll call it SIDEX 2020). The event had 4,860 attendees across 2 days—and there were, naturally, concerns over crowd sizes at the time. But fear not! The successful implementation of health and safety measures (including regular disinfection of the venue) led to organisers proudly announcing 2 weeks later that no COVID-19 cases had occurred from anyone involved in the event.
An impressive and reassuring achievement—you can find out exactly how they did it here.
Events industry recovery may take ‘1-2 years’
If you read our last briefing, or simply glanced at Twitter on Tuesday 11 August, you’ll have heard all about the ‘Red Alert Day of Action’ courtesy of PLASA’s #WeMakeEvents campaign—a UK-wide event which called on the government to provide meaningful support for the decimated events industry.
A recent poll designed to gauge predictions about our industry’s future found that 52% of event profs believe 1-2 years is a realistic time-frame to recover from COVID-19. Plus 28% suggested 6-12 months was likely, 14% predicated an even longer recovery period of 3 years, and a mere 6% thought the industry would recover within the next 6 months.
These results are bleak but unsurprising, considering most events cannot begin to take place under current government guidelines. If you’re looking for ways to support the events industry through this crisis, adding your name to the #WeMakeEvents campaign is a great place to start.
Hang in there, friends!