Insight: Issue 29 (27th January)
So, quick question. . .does 2021 have any other months, or is it just January?
On what feels like the 47th day of this month, we’re sharing news of: the APPG’s first formal evidence session for the current Parliament; an argument for relinquishing control in the event planning process; a how-to guide for VIP virtual events; promising data from a rapid testing event trial; some boredom-busting podcast suggestions; and a few creative campaign ideas for managing experiential marketing in a COVID world.
APPG evidence session goes ahead
A couple of weeks back, we shared a link to the new All Party Parliamentary Group for Events website—and now the group has held its first formal evidence session for the current Parliament. It was hosted by APPG Events Chair, Rt Hon Theresa Villiers, and attended by MPs and representatives from across the UK events sector. Following the meeting, a senior spokesperson for the APPG commented:
“There is no doubt that the events sector needs further support, both to survive the challenges of the next few months, but also to ensure a swift and sustained recovery, and we look forward to working with the industry in partnership to achieve this.”
We speak for event profs everywhere when we say, we look forward to that too! In the meantime, you can catch up on the session notes here.
Control vs. freedom in meetings
If there’s one thing we know to be universally true about event profs, it’s that we are—unashamedly—control freaks. Checklist-crazy, spreadsheet-worshipping control freaks.
But, what if control is a myth? What if, by trying to control every single aspect of our events, we are stifling creativity? In a thought-provoking blog by Conferences That Work, the author suggests that we need to relinquish some control in the planning process to give delegates some freedom—freedom to choose *what* they talk about, *whom* they connect with, *when* it suits them. An event prof’s job is therefore to support these activities, not dictate them, by providing appropriate:
- Structure—through participant-driven, participation-rich sessions.
- Resources—flexible physical and/or online spaces, facilitators, and a schedule that can be developed, as needed, at the event.
If you’re not sure how to strike the right balance between freedom and control—all will be revealed.
How to run a VIP online event
Over the past 10 months, the universal virtual pivot has opened up a worldwide audience for businesses; helping to increase brand awareness, build communities and, yes, attract paying customers. Virtual *VIP* events can be even better; allowing you to really get to know your existing clients, and turn them into true ambassadors for your brand.
How, you ask? Well, Event Planner has all the answers:
- Send out a physical invitation to your existing clients. In today’s virtual-by-necessity world, a beautifully designed physical invitation will make them feel extra special.
- Design online events for different price tiers. That way you’ll be catering for all types of account, big and small.
- Build a VIP online community for your clients. An exclusive space where your clients can interact and sell to one another, incentivising them to attend your event.
- Level up with a VIP online experience. This is where you can really get creative. We’re thinking, a fancy wine-tasting class—with bespoke wine kits sent directly to clients before the event. Because who wouldn’t love that?
Rapid testing offers glimmer of hope for events
As appealing as a virtual wine tasting sounds, we’d all much rather share a glass of vino with our pals in person. And hopefully we’ll be able to do that before too long. Recent data from rapid COVID testing is offering the events industry a glimmer of hope, with a trial concert in Barcelona resulting in zero infections. But the question is: did they just get lucky, or does rapid testing actually make events safe?
The simple answer is…we don’t know yet. While it might be tempting to say that the lack of transmission is the product of testing alone, we can only draw conclusions based on the combination of other safety measures that were in place (e.g. limited capacity in the venue, social distancing, mask-wearing, and so on). The bottom line is, we don’t have enough data, so we need to wait for the results of more trial events. BUT the good news is, the Barcelona study provides a potential model to follow. And that’s not nothing.
“There’s a podcast for that!”
Okay, we’ve lost count of how many lockdowns we’ve been through, but we are fed up regardless. Luckily for event profs, there are no shortage of boredom-busting, event-related podcasts to tune in to.
- Eventually. Hosted by Montreal-based event prof Tatiana Therrien, exploring the changes needed in the corporate events industry. Upcoming topics include racism, dress code, and a lack of non-alcoholic drinks at events.
- Eating at a Meeting. Hosted by Tracy Stuckrath, president of Thrive! Meetings & Events, sharing authentic stories of the financial, social, emotional, and mental impact of food & drink on individuals, organisations and, of course, events.
- Conversations About Collaboration. Hosted by author and speaker Phil Simon, with an eclectic mix of guest speakers; all of whom are experts in getting people to work together effectively.
Steal-worthy experiential marketing ideas
Thanks to COVID, high-traffic live events are out of the question—for now—and mobile, multi-channel experiences are in. Event Marketer has shared some creative campaigns to get the ideas flowing; campaigns that meet consumers where they are (at home, obviously) whilst feeding back to the social marketing machine.
We recommend you browse the list in full, but our personal favourite is from everyone’s favourite Swedish furniture store…IKEA offered consumers a free ‘Gingerbread Höme’ kit, for creating gingerbread houses furnished with edible versions of their iconic furniture—complete with cookie cutters and, of course, flat-pack assembly instructions. Love it.
Aaand now we’re hungry.