We have EQs and IQs, but these days, you need a high AQ – Adaptability Quotient. Once upon a time, people were invited to attend events all around the world. They would sign up for the event, pay a registration fee, fly to the event and check into their hotel. Events that delivered on promises; education, entertainment and opportunities for networking, became super popular and drew big crowds. Those that wanted to attend, but were unable to for whatever reason, would surely experience a bit of FOMO, as their social media pages filled up with pics and posts of the divine and exciting times their peers were experiencing. Many would take note and keep the date on their radar vowing that they would never miss out again.
Flashforward to the days of COVID-19. Events have gone online can now be attended all while sitting at a desk from the comfort of home!
Overnight, FOMO, as a marketing tool had lost its mojo. Tickets that once cost hundreds were suddenly free or only a few dollars? Sponsors were not exactly sure what they were sponsoring. And a question on many an attendee’s mind – will I still get a swag bag?
Meeting planner, we all have a high AQ! Together, we are right now creating the new way to do events. Here are some thoughts to ponder:
- Virtual events can be awesome – just like the live events that were well produced, a well-produced remote event will be welcomed and attended.
- Live events will come back. Sheltering in place will end, fans will crave their live events and be ready to attend again.
- Start offering both! Offer tickets to people that wish to attend the event so they can take part in the evening activities, and connect/network in person. But also include a remote option for those that do not have the time or budget to attend. They may miss out on the networking, but they will still experience the education and keynote presentations.
- Be platform specific – do not try create a virtual event that is a “just like you are there” event. No! It will fail. Instead, be smart about the limitations and un-limitations of virtual and live. For example, a virtual event has a lot more “space” and can hold a lot more attendees, but trying to virtually network amongst all those attendees is a recipe for disaster. At a live event, networking will become an even more important feature, be sure to play it up and present many creative opportunities!
- Think about the presenters – if they are on a stage, does their presentation translate well to the virtual “stage”? Consider offering another session for the remote viewers, and perhaps include a Q&A after. Work with your presenters so they understand how to present to a virtual audience. One example, if they are presenting in a webinar fashion, make sure they know to look into the camera, not at the screen.
- Swag bags can also be included at virtual events, they may be digital in nature (ebooks, virtual backgrounds, etc), some planners have chosen to mail them to attendees or provide a safe pick-up option for local events.
- Social is just as big for virtual events as they are for live; make sure to include hashtags in your presentations, encourage participants to post selfies of themselves, and assign someone the task of monitoring the social media for questions and engagement.
It will be interesting to see what the New Event Normal looks like. But due to our high AQ, we will make it happen and happen well!