Insight: Issue 21 (18th November)
In today’s news. . .
…why ‘normal’ events are over(rated); our campaign to end virtual event bashing (super-spreader events are the real enemy, people!); will events require negative COVID tests/proof of vaccination, or will mass testing save the day?; how to create emotionally impactful virtual experiences; and tips for a festive online party as we head towards a potentially #VirtualChristmas.
Normal is over(rated)
“We’re not going back to normal, because normal is how we got here.”
This thoughtful guest blog on Velvet Chainsaw is for anyone who is thoroughly fed up with all the chat about ‘when things get back to normal’. It makes the very good point that by romanticising ‘normal’, we are clinging to the past—and looking backwards is never, ever a good business strategy.
But above all, this kind of talk does a disservice to the incredible value that event profs can provide *now*. So far this year, the events industry has completely reinvented itself; showing our clients how much data they can yield from online engagements, and teaching them how to network and connect meaningfully in a virtual world. That’s huge! Obsessing about how events *used* to look will only prevent you from seeing how they can improve in the future.
So, the moral of the story? Stop dwelling on “I wish we could meet in person!” and definitely no more “virtual just isn’t the same!”. Instead, look forward and lead with your value—because you have so much to offer.
Super-spreader events are the enemy, not virtual
And while we’re on our soapbox…*clears throat*…we have got to discourage digital event bashing. Arguing about the value of virtual vs. in-person is unhelpful and, ultimately, pointless. Virtual events are here to stay—and for good reason. Let’s not forget that, during a time when it has been very hard to find silver-linings, online events have provided us with one. It’s our Plan B, and not all industries are lucky enough to have that.
The real enemy of live events is not virtual events, but super-spreader events (and, you know, COVID in general). Because the marketing efforts that events will need in order to counterbalance the stigma of super-spreader events will be gigantic and very costly… Don’t get us wrong, we *need* to get back to live events. But first, we need them to be safe.
Anyway, we’re done ranting now—but if you’re not, read this.
Will events require negative COVID tests?
In order to banish these super-spreader events, will negative tests or even proof of vaccination be required on the door? For the concert industry, that may well be the case.
Box-office giant Ticketmaster is developing a plan that will require people who have purchased tickets to concerts, and other public events, to show proof of vaccination OR a negative COVID-19 test result received within 72 hours before the event. This would be done on event-goers’ mobile phones, and anyone who does not provide this confirmation will not be allowed to attend the event.
As we saw a couple of weeks ago, a similar plan is being rolled out in the airline industry. Perhaps all events will soon follow suit.
Liverpool mass testing sparks hope for events
Another development sparking hope for future events—the UK’s first mass testing operation is now underway in Liverpool. The testing pilot began on 6 November, and hospitality leaders and local politicians are hopeful this will pave the way for The Grand National and other major events to take place in the city in 2021.
At the monthly Visitor Economy Panel, hosted by the Liverpool BID Company, Claire McColgan of Culture Liverpool pointed out that the logistical constraints around mass testing are just as important to trial as the testing itself. Where, for example, do you keep visitors while they wait for their test results? Though this is challenging, she said it’s no reason to be discouraged:
“If there are trials to be run, we’ll have our hands up first to say ‘trial things here’—let’s try and get that part of the economy moving.”
Good on you, Liverpool!
How to create emotional experiences online
American poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou once said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Well, the same is true of events. Your delegates probably won’t remember every detail of the insightful keynote speech flawlessly delivered at your conference, but they will definitely remember how it made them feel.
And remember, events don’t have to be any less emotionally impactful just because they take place on a screen, instead of on a stage. But if you’re still not convinced, Event Planner has some top tips for designing online experiences that pack an emotional punch:
- Have a solid event branding strategy. Designing a clear personality through branding will help to create an emotional connection between your audience and your event.
- Mix up your online activities. Don’t just offer speech after speech after speech; enrich the experience with entertainment and wellbeing sessions, too.
- Inspire your guests with unique stories. Storytelling, if relevant to your audience, is a sure-fire way to trigger a positive emotional response.
- Create online networking spaces. Experiment with new virtual formats and create breakout rooms so attendees can interact and engage with one another.
- Think like a TV producer. Think outside the box and increase the production value with real TV studio settings.*
*No idea where to start? We’ll give you a hint…Cameron Live!
How to throw a virtual holiday party
Yes, it has come to this. We are heading for a #VirtualChristmas.
That might not be the most cheerful proposition… Ho-ho-however, there’s no need to cancel the office Christmas shindig this year. In fact, after the rollercoaster of doom that was 2020, we’re going to need as much festive cheer as we can get.
So, embrace the fact that things will be different this year, and have a gander at this how-to guide for a virtual holiday party. There are tonnes of jolly ideas in here—and, for the record, we reckon a Zoom gingerbread decorating contest is a merry (and messy) place to start.
‘Tis the virtual season!