Six Top Tips for the Return to Face-to-Face Events
While many event planners and attendees alike have been returning to live events, there are of course elements to consider before taking the step back into the world of face-to-face event experiences. As we know it was never going to be a case of if live events would make a return, but when.
Our six top tips for returning to face-to-face events should support you to begin the all-important transition back to live events – and for those of you who’ve already taken the step, this could prove to be a handy guide when determining your next move and managing expectations when it comes to the attendee experience.
1. Know your WHY
The first thing to consider is your WHY – what’s your motivation to return to live events? Think about your objectives and desired outcomes here, as it’s one of the most important decisions you’ll make as you map out your event and communications strategy.
Your event may have happened before, but what needs to change now? What’s your audience profile and how will that impact planning and execution? What’s your audience sentiment? What reputational impact could this have? The list goes on…
2. Knowledge is power
It’s vital you get the bigger picture from your attendees and employees. Communicate with them around your strategy. Produce surveys and polls and more importantly pick up the phone where possible and appropriate, to understand where they’re currently ‘at’ when it comes to attending face-to-face events.
Always have a back-up plan – now more than ever it’s important not to box yourself in.
Right now, we’d suggest going hybrid as an option – this is the perfect solution for any conference, summit or award ceremony. Plus, you might now be able to consider hosting your event at a smaller, unique venue, which wasn’t possible in the past.
Hybrid events not only allow you to safely bring audiences together, but can transform your general sessions, expos, networking, and breakout sessions, increasing reach, accessibility, and longevity, as well as maximising ROI and engagement – and they don’t have to blow the budget.
3. Safety first
It’s vital you keep up to date with the latest government guidelines and industry news around covid-safety, so you can make informed decisions on how to ensure your event is safe for all involved. In the first instance think insurance, venues, maximum capacities, contracts, and force majeure.
Work with your venue and event partner to produce your live event safety plan. This can be anything from your seating plan, pre-event COVID testing, mandatory mask zones, contact tracing, sanitisation stations, contactless experiences, and even on-site health checks – establish which elements will be required and if you should be thinking about extra layers of protection for both staff and attendees.
Establish what should be provided across your event and how to communicate this through your pre-event comms plan, onsite signage, and event messaging. All of this will reassure your attendees and partners of your commitment to their safety and comfort.
4. Harness the power of virtual experiences
There’s no getting away from the power of virtual events. We’ve worked closely with our clients to establish what works and what doesn’t across the last 14mths and with so many options at your fingertips, you’d be wrong if you thought you no longer need virtual events.
And let’s not forget that the digital content created can be repurposed and accessed even after the event and support future initiatives – keep connectivity front of mind and you can’t go wrong!
We believe virtual and digital elements are a vital part of any event experience and need to be integrated into your event and communications strategy. The value of face-to-face communication will never disappear, but even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Cisco predicted 82% of all internet traffic by 2022 will be consuming videos.
5. Choose the right event partner
The key word here is partner. An event partner should be an extension of your team, not just a one-off supplier. We’ve proven this time and time again, and can proudly say we’ve partnered with clients for some 20 years – and counting!
Selecting an event partner is a key step to guaranteeing the momentum you need to create a successful and effective event. Think experience, creativity, budget management, communication, flexibility, teamwork, and culture.
6. Stay flexible and know your options
If we’ve learned anything from the coronavirus pandemic, it’s that being able to adapt and change quickly is key! We understand that this can be difficult as events require a realistic lead time, but flexibility should always be front of mind.
This is another reason to consider weaving in elements of virtual into your event, which ultimately gives you a unique hybrid experience for your attendees and provides that safe back-up plan we talked about earlier.
Earlier this year, we discussed four key reasons on why virtual and hybrid events are working for businesses, and why you should be investing in them for the future, as they’re here to stay in some capacity – read more here.
The bottom line…
Whatever your objectives, you needn’t think you don’t have options. Our team are brimming with ideas and hands on experience, which can be applied to your next conference, brand event, sales kick-off, or award ceremony. Let’s talk.