Event planners have suffered a tremendous blow this year. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed this whole industry radically, in a very short time. We all have had to adapt to a completely new environment in which the very core of our activity seems to be the root of the problem. Crowds and gatherings are dangerous, spending time indoors with others is mostly forbidden and the mere thought of a public event is enough to make most people uncomfortable. How can we minimise the impact of this momentous crisis and keep on working? Is it even possible to do so? The past few months have proven that it is: the whole event industry has had to adapt and come up with alternative solutions to keep meeting the customers’ needs without endangering the public or breaking the law.
How the event industry adapted to Covid-19
What do our lives look like without events?
As events started to get cancelled all over the world, we came to realise how much they shape our perception of society and how much we rely on them to mark relevant moments in our working and social life. We are used to yearly trade shows in which we plan future business strategies, to summer music festivals for our entertainment, to seasonal conferences and cinema premieres, to concerts and roadshows, exhibitions, and sporting competitions. In a society that increasingly mediates interaction through technological platforms, we need to communicate with others in close proximity, in order to remind each other of our mutual existence and reliability.
The r-evolution of digital events
The event industry has proven to be remarkably resilient in the face of this global crisis and it almost immediately channelled all of its energy and creativity into making digital events not only viable and accessible, but engaging, thrilling, and desirable. We have embraced technology as our ally and thousands of online events have been organised and attended by millions of people in 2020. Thousands of companies around the world proved to be interested in this kind of service, commissioning webinars, online events, streaming training and team building sessions, hosting press conferences on zoom, and even organising and attending full-blown digital trade shows, in the name of business continuity.
Event planners are excellent at…. well, planning. And good planning means taking into account anything and everything that could possibly go wrong, from bad weather to the sudden unavailability of technical resources, from last-minute speaker cancellations to miscalculations of attendance. Now we know that there is another major variable to take into account, namely whether or not, on the scheduled date of an event, restrictions will have come into place that might prevent said event from happening. How do you plan for something like this? By having a fully functional digital alternative to implement, if need be, and by making sure all your potential attendees are aware of that and comfortable with the possibility of having to experience events remotely.
Clear communication is key
One of the biggest mistakes an event planner can make, when managing a crisis, is failing to communicate clearly with the public. Going suddenly silent as soon as complications arises generates mistrust and uncertainty. If a change of plan proves necessary, the public, customers, and suppliers (not necessarily in this order) must be kept informed. After all, we are all in this together. Anyone who learns about the cancellation or postponement of an event is hardly going to be surprised at this point. But they could be pleasantly impressed if given the option to attend a digital version of the same event, rather than being forced to rearrange their schedule.