Insight: Issue 35 (10th March)
Well, the news has been horrifying this week.
But that’s exactly why we write these event round-ups—so event profs can get all their industry info in one safe place, without wanting to tear their hair out…You’re welcome!
Today we’ve got: some thought-provoking articles from top female event profs following International Women’s Day; a huge win for Glasgow’s events scene (*cough £84m cough*); more funding for leading virtual event platform Hopin; news of another live event trial taking place in the Netherlands; an argument for NOT rushing back in to live events; and some tips for maximising virtual engagement in the meantime.
#IWD2021: fixing the gender imbalance in events
The pandemic has disproportionately disadvantage women, especially women of colour. Sadly, this is also true within the events industry. And considering women make up about 80% of the workforce, this is totally, completely unacceptable. In time for International Women’s Day on Monday, Event Manager Blog shared this thoughtful piece on how the events industry can help to rectify the gender imbalance. It’s essential reading for all event profs.
Smart Meetings also shared some pandemic lessons from top female hospitality leaders on IWD—and they truly are lessons in resilience and determination. So if you’re seeking inspiration, check them out here.
Glasgow lands conference business worth £84m
A huge win for Scotland’s largest city—recent figures show that despite the obvious challenges facing the events industry right now, Glasgow has landed 28 new conferences since 1 April 2020, covering an impressive range of sectors. And the best part? These conferences will welcome over 36k delegates to the city and will have an economic value of £84 million.
So yeah. It seems Events Make Glasgow.
Hopin announces another $400m in funding
In other big industry news—virtual event platform Hopin has just announced $400 million in funding. This takes its funding total to $565 million, valuing the London-based company at a mind-blowing $5.65 billion.
Hopin has undoubtedly become the poster child for virtual event tech success over the past year, especially among investors (Marriott International is just one of many big-name supporters). And the company now boasts 82k+ organisations hosting events on the platform, which is 30k more than in November 2020.
The are certainly exciting times ahead for Hopin—and, indeed, for everyone involved in creating virtual and hybrid events. Hooray for us!
Dutch event profs say live events can return
Ah yes, we can’t resist these live-event success stories. Event profs in the Netherlands are running a ‘Back to Live’ events campaign, which aims to show how events with an increased visitor capacity can take place safely and responsibly during the pandemic.
On Saturday, 1,300 participants attended a live music event at the Ziggo Dome, the largest music venue in the Dutch capital. Participants had their movements traced via tags and were also divided into 5 ‘bubbles’, each with a different set of rules. Some bubbles had to wear masks; others were required to socially distance themselves from other participants; and one group were even given fluorescent drinks and were encouraged to sing and scream to see how much saliva was released at moments of ‘peak revelry’…All in the name of science, of course.
An argument *against* live events (for now)
Yes, we did *just* express our excitement over the ‘Back to Live’ campaign. But still, there’s a strong case to be made for not rushing back in to in-person events. Adrian Segar explained his thoughts over on Conferences That Work, outlining the main reasons why large-scale live events are not a good idea right now:
- Safety protocols aren’t followed. We’ve all heard the horror stories of attendees and staff not reliably social distancing and/or not wearing masks properly (it goes *above the nose* people. How hard is that?).
- What about ventilation systems? Many venues have been waxing lyrical about their comprehensive COVID cleaning protocols, but far fewer have addressed how ventilation systems can minimise or eliminate airborne transmission. (Probably because it’s complicated. And expensive.)
- Inadequate (or non-existent) testing and contract tracing. NEWS FLASH: checking someone’s temperature when they enter a venue will not identify anyone who is infectious for the 2 days before symptoms appear. Or anyone who is asymptomatic, for that matter.
To be clear, we want to get back to work as much as the next event prof. But we will only do so safely.
Tips for boosting virtual event engagement
So, while we wait for science to give us the green light, we suggest you plough on with creating absolutely awesome virtual events. And to do that, you’re going to need to maximise engagement. Special Events has 4 top tips:
- Incentivise having cameras on. No-one likes staring at a blank screen and talking into the void. So why not set a virtual background theme for your next Zoom meeting, like ‘best holiday ever’, and encourage folk to show up with their best tropical snaps.
- Have a dedicated host. And make it their job to respond to chat messages, ask the audiences quirky questions, and generally keep things flowing.
- Speak to participants directly. People typically *love* hearing the sound of their own name. Plus, it’s often unexpected—and especially welcome—in a virtual environment.
- Prizes, prizes, prizes. Remember that holiday-themed background incentive we mentioned? Offer a prize for the winning photo (like, say, an extra day of annual leave) then sit back and watch as all those cameras start coming on.
Remember travelling?. . .No, us neither.