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Only 53% of event planners have an emergency plan. The rest never even assessed their risks, so they aren’t prepared for the unforeseen. That’s a large number considering there are about 139,966 event planning companies in the United States. But what’s more alarming is the fact that close to 6 million jobs are in danger due to the COVID-19 crisis.
So, what can and should you do? Let’s learn from the professionals.
Making Your Company Web-friendly
The COVID-19 crisis has brought the entire world to the internet’s mercy. All kinds of businesses have been forced to get out of their comfort zones and build an online presence. From expanding their knowledge to revamping the website, event pros are doing everything they can to win the internet.
But that isn’t enough. If you want to meet your ideal customers, you need search engine optimization, content creation, and online ads among more. Gone are the days when event companies ran based on word-of-mouth marketing and referrals. Today, people are finding you online and you need to be where they are.
Event pros agree that you need to work on your social media skills to prepare for the post-pandemic world. Clean up the mess and create new strategies to improve your online presence. Analyze customer behavior data to find new leads and use social proof to stay in the limelight.
Activating Communication from C-level
Communication literally costs nothing yet saves you millions when it comes to employee turnover losses. Event pros realize that retaining employees is a challenge for an industry that’s experiencing economic failure. That’s why you need the chiefs of the company to come forward and take charge of the conversation before someone sets off a grapevine.
If you must, create an online community of your employees to keep them on the same page while they’re working from home. Also, go ahead and appoint an accountability partner to keep their morale and productivity high.
Just like you’re sending out information to your employees, make sure that your customers/attendees are updated, too. Start with weekly newsletters to let your current and previous clients/attendees know how you’re dealing with the pandemic. Let them know if you’re struggling and if you’ve planned anything for the future.
Amplifying Efforts Made to Keep the Staff Safe
Customers want to know how responsible businesses are being during the COVID-19 crisis. A great opportunity to show them your efforts is through video content.
Recently, Bigg Boss, the Indian version of Big Brother, asked the employees of their event partner, BBC, to share videos of the show’s behind-the-scenes. The series of videos included people sanitizing the vicinity and practicing the government’s guidelines for coronavirus. This effort was appreciated by the show’s fans, which helped generate positive PR for the show and the event company.
Event pros agree that the only thing that your audience cares about right now is how humanitarian you are. Show them that and you’ve secured business for life.
Embracing the Possibility and Safety of Outdoor Events
Outdoor events are safer than indoor events as they discourage the spread of the virus and allow people to follow social distancing. If you can’t convince people to gather indoors, ask them to attend the much safer and more sanitary outdoor events.
The MD of The Bradfield Centre, James Parton, is planning to utilize their outdoor atrium for hosting events as well as their auditorium at 16.5% of its total capacity to abide by the government’s COVID-19 guidelines. This means that they will host only 33 people instead of 200 inside the auditorium to ensure that everyone is maintaining a safe distance.
Parton was forced to take this decision after their investment in an online ‘venue’ in the form of Pro Zoom took a massive hit in the first quarter of 2020.
Being Honest and Admitting to Knowing Less
Clearly, Zoom and Skype aren’t the only solutions for event pros like James who are innovating to keep their company afloat in this age of COVID-19. But not everyone is lucky enough to get through the pandemic with just a couple of bruises.
Countless companies have been forced to pull the plug on all their upcoming events due to their time-boundedness. Money has been invested and lost. But there’s still a silver lining.
A report from Think With Google confirmed that people want to help businesses stay open. But it’s going to take more than just an epiphany for them to realize that you’re in need of help. All it would take for you to do is tell them that you don’t know what you’re doing.
Yet again, communication is the answer to this issue. Send out emails to your clients telling them how this is unchartered territory for you and how you’re taking a break. Let them know that you’ll still be working on their events but will be needing some time off to organize your plans of action.
It’s okay if you don’t know what to do. Nobody does. Even the best of the event pros are simply winging it.
Hybrid In-person and Digital Events are the Future
Event pros confirm that the future is digital. While the goals remain unchanged, the strategies and execution will need to be altered to suit the online audience’s taste.
Technology will continue to play a major role in the success of events and hosting events will require innovative thinking and a complete transformation for the digital world.
If you’re one of those who have already cracked the code, the best part about being in the creative industry is that you can always turn to coaching other people when you don’t know how else to earn.
People are hungry for information and they’re willing to pay for help. Consider helping other businesses learn what you have by offering affordable webinars and online courses.
Many event pros have already begun to offer online workshops to sustain themselves during COVID-19 while making other’s lives easier. It may sound opportunistic but if anything, it’s an opportunity for you to diversify your skillset and build an engaging community of event professionals.