In order to continue prioritizing the health and safety of their teams, many companies are rethinking their meeting and event strategy altogether. But while precautionary measures safeguard health risks for attendees, there are impactful alternatives available to planners to fulfill their meeting and events programming. These options include: holding in-person events while implementing proper safety protocols, hosting a hybrid event (with both in-person and virtual components), or shifting the program to be fully virtual.
Below we dive into each of these strategic approaches, incorporating our insights and expertise from planning our clients virtual and hybrid events over the last year.
Modifying Plan A: Planning for a Safe Environment
Many planners begin coordinating their meetings and events months, and sometimes years in advance. A lot of thoughtful touchpoints were carefully deliberated over, vendors selected, and programming finalized. Nixing this work and postponing indefinitely can be an exhausting and challenging experience for the everyone involved, not to mention missing out on the value the events can drive for your business. For those that are wondering how they might still be able to host in-person events and stick with their Plan A, luckily, there are many safety guidelines and protocols that have been published to help guide in-person gatherings.
By creating a safe environment for attendees using transparent health and prevention guidelines, planners can prevent the spread of the virus while focusing on producing a memorable event. Here are some of the top ways to plan for a safe, in-person event:
● Vaccination mandates can ensure attendees that they will have less risk of infection
● Onsite safety protocols, such as wearing masks, providing hand sanitizing stations
● In areas of substantial to high transmission, the CDC does recommend conducting health checks, such as temperature screening or checking symptoms of staff and attendees safely and respectfully, in accordance with any applicable privacy laws and regulations
● Contact tracing consistent with local laws and regulations, including those relating to privacy, can assure guests transparency and peace of mind
● Proper ventilation, either by holding your event outdoors, or choosing an indoor venue with great ventilation can create a safer environment for your attendees
● Spacing contributes to a safe environment as well. Encourage social distancing, and when planning seating arrangements or breakouts, consider separating groups into smaller clusters. Planners can also modify layouts by installing physical barriers or guides to promote physical distancing
Best of Both Worlds: Transition to Hybrid
A recent PULSE survey found that for the first time since March of 2020, more events are being booked than being rescheduled, and 40% of event planners are in the process of planning a hybrid event. For planners that are slowly transitioning back to in-person events, or want to have more options for their programming and guests, a hybrid event may be the best option.
Hybrid events blend in-person programming, the cornerstone of traditional event planning, with virtual components that allow remote participants to consume and engage with content from the comfort of their locale. Integrating a virtual element into your in-person event can mitigate concerns about safety and overcrowding, while bringing together more people across more locations. This approach also allows attendees to access the event from their homes, if they are remote or not comfortable with in-person gatherings.
While the rise in popularity of hybrid events may have been a reactionary approach to the business climate, many believe – Convene included – that hybrid events will become the staple format for meetings and events in the future. A planner from the PULSE survey shared, “Even when Covid is no longer a concern (hopefully that day will come), we will probably continue with hybrid events going forward to allow those to participate who cannot come in person.”
To support our clients and the meeting and events industry, we’ve created a one-stop solution for hybrid events and have hosted hundreds of virtual and hybrid events over the last 18 months. In order to do so, we offer a best-in-class virtual event platform, 23 physical spaces, a dedicated team of event experts, and hybrid AV technology integrations. This combination of resources work to streamline the pivot of any in-person event to hybrid, allowing planners to focus on their programming while Convene works on overseeing all logistics.
In response to the rising need for planners to be able to quickly pivot their in-person event to hybrid challenges late in the planning process, Convene has newly launched Event Assurance. With this add-on, any client can convert their physical event into a hybrid occasion, in as little as 48 hours. This option is ideal for customers looking to hold their event, no matter if circumstances may change.
How does this work? This add-on is available for clients using any of Convene’s properties for their meetings or events. Planners will have access to a Convene-branded event site, high-quality broadcasting to the event site, a single camera, two dedicated technicians, audio mixing, Q&A moderation, and polling. There are options to further customize, such as adding supplementary lighting, virtual speakers, and an event recording if they like.
Transition to Virtual
Even with in-person and hybrid event options, there are many cases where fully pivoting programs to a virtual format is the best option for planners and attendees alike. This may be if your guests or panelists do not share geographies, if your attendees are not entirely comfortable with in-person, to save travel time to the event, or even expand reach to a new audience.
Virtual event technology has come a long way in the last year and a half, making digital events more seamless, enjoyable, with a higher production value than ever before. And as technology continues to simplify and enhance the virtual experience, more planners believe this approach to events will become a mainstay in their tool belt. Research shows that even when the pandemic recedes and the barriers to in-person gatherings fall away, the average event marketer still expects to run more virtual events (40%) than physical ones (34%).
Options Beyond Canceling
The future of meetings and events in an era of COVID-19, and beyond, will continue to demand flexibility and resiliency of meeting and event planners. Instead of rescheduling or canceling events, organizers can look to pivot their event strategies to continue hosting an assortment of safe in-person, hybrid, or virtual events to meet their business objectives. Planners are certainly used to thinking out-side of the box to make their visions come to life, and will continue to do so in the new era of the workplace. To learn more about Convene’s Event Assurance, or to book a demo on any of our products, contact us here.