The BIG question that everyone in the events industry is currently asking themselves: What will be the new “normal” for events?
Many online blogs and companies are highlighting that events can effectively and safely take place online. This is true – and it is incredible that we now live in society where COVID-19 means that we can still actively communicate content and messaging, all down to the advanced virtual technology we have access to.
That said, there is no denying that being present at a live event goes above and beyond how we feel from attending an event online. The type of events that emc3 produce are a perfect example of this. Through large production sets, branding, theming, well-known speakers and the oppurtinity to even meet them in person, attendees come away feeling excited, engaged and fully immersed in the brand. When we come to the end of this period these experiences are going to feel even better than ever, as we all have a newfound appreciation of social environments and human interaction.
Moving forward with such events, we need to re-evaluate what these are going to look like. It is down to us, as event experts, to create this new “normal” within the industry and reassure attendees that they are in a safe space. Here are just some of the options to consider:
Virtual Venue Tours
Already there are lots of companies proactively thinking about their future events – and as we know, the choice of venue is one of the most important elements.
When working during this period, and not having been able to attend site visits, it has been amazing to offer clients virtual 360 tours of venues. They give such a good feel of the spaces, that they have been able to narrow down and shortlist a venue.
We encourage all venues to have this available moving forward as perhaps we should re-consider taking hours out of our day or travelling non-essentially, at least for the first stage of site visits.
Social Distancing Measures
The most important thing we need to address when we can host live events again, is how we will ensure measures are implemented to mitigate the risks associated with COVID-19.
Perhaps the future is that COVID-19 testing is in place before an attendee even enters the venue. Some countries have already introduced temperatures being taken before walking into public spaces, so if this allows us to sooner return to live events then it is something that needs to be considered.
We also need to understand that for distancing measures to be in place, fewer people can attend. For this a ‘session’ format can be introduced, so that the content is repeated and allows for various groups to attend the conference at different times. Chairs and rows will also need to be limited, so that attendees are always sat a suitable distance apart.
With networking being vital to any event, the usual handshake and greeting will no longer be the norm. It will be encouraged for attendees to greet each other from a distance, with signage focusing on this to remind individuals how to protect themselves and others from getting sick.
Online streaming has already been introduced to many live events, and if we are going to need to limit the number of attendees in a venue at one time, then to make the event virtually available for a percentage of the attendees is an ideal solution. During this unpredictable period, we have already proved the success of going virtual, so by introducing this to live events it allows for the best of both worlds. We would encourage those that would need to travel long distances to be the individuals that attend a conference virtually, as not only does it help with numbers; it is also the most sustainable solution.
It is important that throughout this period of uncertainty, we focus on the positives for our own mental well-being. There is no doubt that both individuals and the media have stressed the positive impact that lockdown has had on our environment. Making events sustainable is so important, and this has only given people more time to consider this and realise that it is the future and the new “normal”.
It is time to seriously re-consider how past events have run – we need to reduce food waste, ensure menus promote economically sourced food, re-cycle and consider re-used or re-cycled event materials.
Everyone that attends the event needs to be aware of these measures that have been taken – through signage, marketing and attendee reports. By coming away from an event that is sustainable, attendees take the thought process with them and only puts the event and the brand in a positive light.
Whilst this new “normal” will be different, we at emc3 believe it is a positive change and will be embracing it wholeheartedly.
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