Latest News: COVID-19 and the events industry (13 May)
In a surprising turn of events. . .
Scots everywhere are *actually excited* to be able to exercise outside more than once a day. Sure, we neglected our gym memberships before all this…but excitement is in short supply these days, so we’ll take it where we can get it.
In today’s event news, we’re covering: how the UK’s latest lockdown measures will affect the events industry; the coping mechanisms of event profs around the world; health and safety conditions for post-lockdown trade shows; an argument for why hybrid events are the future; drive-in conferences (say what now?); and 10 alternatives to the done-to-death virtual happy hour.
Latest lockdown measures & the events industry
On Sunday Boris Johnson announced a plan for easing lockdown restrictions in England, describing it as the “first sketch of a roadmap for reopening society”. The PM suggested that “at least some of the hospitality industry” may reopen by July, provided they enforce social distancing. But the chair of the Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA), Lex Butler, expressed fears that many businesses in the UK events industry won’t survive that long without “much more support”.
Following the extension of the furlough scheme, the HBAA are also calling for “clarity and clear definition” on whether the government’s statement on the hospitality industry includes meetings and events, and what criteria it must meet. More on this story here.
How is the worldwide events industry coping?
We started these news briefings back in March to help streamline the barrage of information circulating online about COVID-19 and the events industry. But more than that, we wanted to keep reminding you—our fellow event profs—that you’re not going through this alone. So when we saw Craig McGee of Panoptic Events doing something similar on LinkedIn, we had to share.
Craig reached out to Panoptic’s clients and suppliers around the world to ask a simple question—‘how are you?’. In finding out how his contacts were coping, and sharing their strategies online, he hoped to help others navigate the disruption. So if you’re curious about how your industry peers are doing, you can read his article here. Expect to see some common themes: communication, collaboration, and—most important of all—empathy.
26 hurdles to jump before reopening exhibitions
The question on every event prof’s mind right now is: what will events look like in a post-COVID world, and how will we get there? Though no-one can answer with complete certainty yet, UFI (aka, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry) has released their initial response to that million-dollar question. On Monday they published a 9-page document outlining the conditions for reopening exhibitions and trade shows after lockdown, which covers 26 non-negotiable measures across 5 categories:
- Ensure personnel & personal safety—e.g. supply masks, gloves, hand sanitiser, etc.
- Enable physical distancing—e.g. leave plenty of space between seats and booths.
- Increase healthy & safety—e.g. deny entry to those who fail a health-screening.
- Implement crowd control—e.g. limit the number of attendees on site at any one time.
- Encourage & enforce measures—e.g. display measures clearly for attendees to see.
Until the time comes when all of these conditions can be met, trade shows may have to follow the lead of other major events and ‘pivot to digital’. And if you think organising a productive and engaging trade show online is an impossible feat, Event Manager Blog can show you how it’s done with their top 10 platforms for virtual trade shows.
The future is hybrid
The present might be virtual-only…but the future is hybrid. Although purely-virtual gatherings have been a life-saver during lockdown, hybrid events will be our stepping stone back to normality (or, at least, a new version of normality).
Despite the fact that countries around the world are starting to ease lockdown restrictions—ours included, south of the border anyway—the COVID-19 crisis is far from over. And when small live events do resume, many people will either be unable, or simply unwilling, to attend in-person. But by leveraging hybrid tactics, event planners can maintain their numbers even if their live audience is lacking. Seriously, it’s a no-brainer.
In another cracking article from Event Manager Blog, they outline how event profs can take advantage of hybrid events. They also stress the importance of choosing the right professional partner. This is because, as more and more big-name companies experiment with digital strategies (*cough Microsoft cough*), a dodgy DIY live-stream won’t cut it anymore. So if you’re looking to stand out from the virtual crowd, you should check out Cameron Live.
Drive-in conferences, anyone?
Whilst we did *just* tell you to embrace the future and go hybrid, we’re now going to *completely* contradict ourselves and suggest a retro approach to post-lockdown live events. (We like to keep you on your toes.)
Like most airports around the world, Vilnius Airport in Lithuania is almost completely shut down due to COVID-19. To help boost morale in the city, airport management reached out to the organisers of the Vilnius International Film Festival to organise drive-in movies in the airport car park.
This allowed families to stay safe in their own cars (parked more than 6 feet apart, of course) and enjoy a rare evening outside of the house. As MeetingsNet points out, it’s not too much of a stretch to image this approach being adopted for meetings and events.
So yeah…drive-in conferences, anyone?
10 virtual team-bonding ideas
And last for today…if you’re already counting down to the weekend and are looking forward to that Friday-night virtual happy hour with your colleagues—or, equally, if you’re dreading another virtual happy hour—then the Bizzabo Blog has a curveball for you. They’ve got 10 remote team-bonding ideas that go beyond online drinks; everything from virtual cooking classes and trivia nights, to Netflix parties and…making origami? Yes, you read that right. Lockdown is about to get wild.
But, joking aside, we love the sentiment. Connect with your team in new ways, keep nourishing that all-important company culture, and celebrate another week of lockdown in the books.