Insight: Issue 20 (11th November)
We’re not gonna lie, we’re just a tiny bit excited about a possible vaccine.
Find out more about the vaccine candidate, and what it could mean for the events industry, in today’s insight. In other news: the HBAA is calling for a ‘Re-Skill & Re-Equip’ fund for the events industry (nothing to do with cybersecurity); there’s a new £2.75m government-backed Events Recovery Fund in the pipeline; 15 social distancing ideas for your next event; lessons for boosting virtual engagement; and introducing a company that sends customisable snack packages to virtual delegates…Who wouldn’t love that?
Vaccine news boosts events industry optimism
First up, the thing everyone is talking about this week—the vaccine.
Pfizer announced on Monday that its vaccine candidate has 90% effectiveness. It’s been tested on 43,500 people in 6 countries, and no safety concerns have been raised. The events industry has long claimed that only a vaccine can put us back in business, so this news prompted widespread optimism in the markets:
- Viad, which owns GES, is currently up 7%.
- Eventbrite is currently up 27%
- Informa is currently up 21%.
Event profs are rightfully celebrating (god knows, we’ve been in desperate need of some good news!)—but we also can’t lose sight of the fact that this pandemic is far from over. The events industry must play the long game, continuing to champion the problem-solving power of virtual events for the foreseeable future.
Baby steps, people.
HBAA calls for a ‘Re-Skill & Re-Equip’ fund
In other news, HBAA is writing to the Chancellor to request a Re-Skill & Re-Equip fund to help viable businesses across the events industry to re-skill their staff and re-equip their companies, enabling them to adapt and stay in business.
If this sounds a bit like a certain controversial ad that did the rounds recently, fear not. Juliet Price, Consultant Executive Director of HBAA—which represents more than 300 UK member organisations from all corners of the events industry—says:
“This is not about retraining people for different industries such as cybersecurity. This is to invest in re-skilling staff so that they can be retained in their existing industries to meet growing demand for new ways of working, interacting and engaging, as well as a more secure future.”
Juliet also commented that the Re-Skill & Re-Equip fund should go towards training more event workers to be Mental Health First Aiders. According to the Office for National Statistics, in June 2020 almost 1 in 5 adults were likely to experience some form of depression during the coronavirus pandemic. Now, after more than 6 months of lockdown and restricted living, the worries are piling up and adding to the pandemic’s significant impact on people’s mental health.
In other words, the Re-Skill & Re-Equip fund would go a long way.
New bid to reboot live events in Scotland
A blueprint to help Scottish events and festivals get back up and running before the pandemic is over is also in the pipeline. The new £2.75m Events Recovery Fund, which the Scottish Government is backing, is aimed at helping organisers meet the extra costs involved in staging events during coronavirus, as well as rebuilding confidence for those attending them.
Bespoke guidelines for a range of indoor and outdoor events are expected to be produced by the end of the year. These ‘route maps’ are expected to see the first events rolled out in areas of the country with the lowest infection rates (tiers 0 and 1 in Scotland). Public celebrations marking Burns Night, St Andrew’s Night, and Hogmanay may make a comeback under the recovery programme, which will allow event organisers to secure up to £35k for large-scale events.
15 social distancing ideas for your event
These positive milestones are definitely giving us cause to be hopeful—but, as we’ve said already, it doesn’t mean normal life is right around the corner. In fact, Event Planner went as far as to say: events will never be the same again. Yes, that’s a bold statement. But what they mean is, after the bizarre year we’ve all had, event profs will want to take all the necessary precautions to keep everyone as safe as possible when in-person events resume. And that means we’ll have to rethink…everything.
But don’t panic! The Event Planner team has also put together a series of social distancing ideas for your next event. From drive-in experiences to bubble-pod concerts—some of these are pure gold.
Lessons for boosting virtual engagement
If attending an event in a giant, inflatable bubble doesn’t appeal…First of all, why not? And second of all, don’t worry about it. Virtual events are here to stay. You can relax.
So without the flashy tricks that event profs have at their disposal for live events, how can virtual events capture the same level of engagement? According to the folks at MeetingsNet, there is one overarching rule when it comes to virtual: the story is the star, and technology should never distract. This was the main take-away from Meeting Professionals International’s World Education Congress, held this week as a hybrid event in Texas. Some other pro tips from the day:
- Design for digital. Don’t try to force your face-to-face event design into a digital format. Think digital first.
- Goals first, platform second. Don’t jump the gun. Think carefully about who exactly your audience is and the desired outcome of each part of the event—then you’ll know what formats make the most sense.
- Provide some escapism. Captivating backgrounds help virtual attendees feel more immersed in the experience. If the visuals are *really* good, they might even forget they’re sitting at their kitchen table.
- Get people talking. People attend events to connect with like-minded people. So give your delegates opportunities to interact through regular social breaks and a much-needed happy hour at the end of the day.
- Embrace the hiccups. Have the presenter acknowledge any glitches or mistakes. Make light of it (i.e. be authentic) but keep attendees in the loop (i.e. be honest).
- And remember, story is key. “Tell great stories to keep people engaged, because technology does not make the quality of the stories better.”
Snacks work too
Those are all invaluable tips. And here’s another one, for good measure…everyone, and we mean everyone, loves free food.
But sadly, no live events means no 3-course banquets and no complementary booze. Crêpes à Latte—an experiential hospitality agency with an excellent name—saw an opportunity and created a solution. Their #BetterTogether Boxes are customisable care packages, containing an assortment of sweet, salty or healthy snacks, games, specialty teas or coffee, themed items, and a personalised postcard from the sender. Once an order is placed, the boxes are individually packed and shipped directly to each recipient’s door in time for them to enjoy during their virtual event. Genius!
Check them out here…but not if you’re hungry.
Free food = answer to everything.