These are crazy days for sure, especially for those of us who work in the meetings and events industry or as hospitality professionals. The biggest question is: when is this going to end? That’s one question that we cannot be sure of right now. Uncertainty prevails in the world right now, but uncertainty doesn’t have to dominate all of our conversations. Yes, we’re waiting to know that a vaccine is available to everyone. Yes, we’re waiting for social distancing to be eliminated. Yes, we’re waiting for live events to re-emerge. We’re waiting for things to “get back to normal.” And yet, those of us in the meetings and events industry have a unique opportunity right now: we have time to make some changes.
Developing New Habits for a Better Event Environment
Habit development is traditionally thought of as a 21-day process, but habit development can take as long as 66 days according to Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen, MD. Habit formation is the key component to creating lasting meaningful change. According to Dr. Andersen, “You don’t get rid of bad habits, you replace them with good ones.” In light of that, and the reality that the one major frustration for all meeting planners is an overall lack of time to get things done, what habits can we intentionally work at developing right now during these unprecedented days? What habits, if implemented now and built over the coming days, will result in a stronger, better event environment on the flip-side?
Develop and Grow Empathy, Compassion, and Listening Skills.
Coming off of an incredibly strong economic environment straight into a global pandemic means everyone has been impacted. We know event production providers who have been furloughed. We know meeting planners who have lost their jobs. We have friends and loved ones who are sick, and we know healthcare workers who are still running to the danger. Developing empathy, compassion, and listening skills now will translate into more effective communication and stronger relationships on the other side of the chaos.
Build Better Content.
Content is king, or is it? With the rise of virtual events, webcasts, webinars, and Zoom peer-to-peer calls, content cannot hide anymore. It is being exposed. By now, after almost six weeks of shelter-in-place orders, we have all likely been a part of virtual events where content has clearly been exposed as insufficient or underwhelming. The era of 2-3hr in-person meetings without a break has shifted to Ted Talk-style online meetings and events. To better create attendee engagement, focusing on quality content development is absolutely critical. Amidst all the distractions of working from home, the content has to be winsome and speakers have to be likable and create interaction. Content has always been important in the events world, but now we have some time to develop new templates, update graphics and branding, and ask production providers to pair their technical expertise with updated branding content to create a more robust event experience.
Find Your Fit with Vendors and Venues.
Yes, we’re not traveling to new venues and we’re not meeting in person with potential vendors. However, as meeting planners, the reality is that the one thing we never have enough of is time. This is the time to reach out to find out what your options are. This is the time to engage in dialogue that will have an impact on your events once you’ve been given the green light to plan your next meetings. The right fit with the right capability can create a powerful reach. This is about online virtual event environments as much as it is about supplier selection and planning partnerships.
Event Attendance Post-Pandemic
Performance Research has shared that in a recent study, 44% of people said they will be attending fewer events even after being cleared by the CDC. And 38% will be attending the same number of events, leaving 18% of people saying they will attend more. Meetings and events in the United States have been impacted forever but live events are not dead. That said, the hybrid events that will prevail on the other end of this crisis will allow companies and associations to more effectively reach, engage, and connect with their target constituents.