As everyone in the events industry will be acutely aware, the threat of Covid-19, more commonly known as coronavirus, has caused a number of high-profile event cancellations, small to large organisations pausing all international travel, and many employees are being asked to work from home. We’ve had a number of clients and external enquiries asking for our thoughts on the impact this is going to have on upcoming projects and event programmes, so we’ve laid out a few thoughts here.
We want to make it clear that any decision made should be based on the World Health Organisation advice, which is different across the globe and changing day by day as the situation evolves. You can find their latest updates here.
So firstly, let's take a look at the scenario we are being asked most frequently about – cancellation. This is, of course, a major blow for any company and resonates across sales, marketing, product, research - every area of an organisation. But don’t despair yet! At TEN6 we have always put people first - human connection, relationship building and personal stories have always been at the heart of our events. So how do we maintain that level of interaction and emotion without having everyone in the same room?
The most obvious solution is to stage your event “virtually” with presentations, keynotes and panels being broadcast across the internet. This is a hugely flexible option, meaning you can continue to deliver your content both visual and spoken as planned, without presenters or audience members needing to travel.
We frequently offer live streaming either in tandem with events to offer more widespread access, or instead of, due to either budgetary or environmental concerns (have a read of our blog where we talk about this in more detail).
Live streaming also has the ability to offer instant audience feedback, subtitling, and the same level of exclusivity of a regular event, meaning it is still possible to monetise if that is a consideration.
With fewer opportunities to meet face-to-face, now is the time to up your social media output, using both public-facing channels such as Facebook and Instagram to showcase your plans and products, as well as utilising the community aspect of platforms like LinkedIn. We have previously run campaigns that allow audiences to group together, trigger discussions and talk direct to sales teams, all through existing social media channels – this is a cost-effective and underused option, and there is no better time to start making the most of it.
As part of our commitment to reducing our environmental impact, we have already been making the change with a number of clients to cut back on international travel by offering more online solutions, such as virtual site visits, 3D fully-rendered fly-throughs of set and show designs, and even live product demonstrations using a combination of AR and VR. These options may come with a price tag, but have the added bonus of being able to be used time and time again, and could be a particularly effective solution for the current situation, given that we don’t at this stage know how long we will be feeling its impact.
Business As Usual
Finally, should your event be going ahead as planned, there are a number of points to be aware of to ensure you are doing all you can for the health and safety of your attendees.
- Offer handwashing and hygiene stations, distribute anti-bacterial products and work closely with your venues to ensure their facilities are cleaned and monitored for availability of soap, paper towels and clean running water.
- Consider your catering options – shared buffets and rotating canapes are an easy route for germs to spread. Think about offering a “lunch box” style meal, or even offering a room-service stipend where appropriate.
- Communicate with your audience in the lead-up to the event and make it clear that should anyone have any doubts, or feel that they may be unwell, that they should not attend. You may need to think about your cancellation policy here, and the effect of loss of ticket sales vs the potential of spreading the disease amongst attendees.
- Prepare for travel delays as airlines and borders require additional checks, and be ready to be flexible with your plans and timings.
The world of events has always required agile thinking and the ability to respond to change – that’s just part of working in a live environment! If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please let us know, and we’d be more than happy to discuss what options we can help you with for any upcoming projects.
- Matt Culverhouse, TEN6 Creative CEO