What’s ahead for live events? What’s next year going to look like? How about five years from now? Some say virtual will always be a component of events going forward. Some say they’ll join another virtual meeting when hell freezes over. Zoom fatigue…Travel restrictions…social distancing. Yuck. Let me just state the obvious. We’re sick and tired of all this. When can things get back to normal? But what the heck will normal be anyway?
You may remember that before the pandemic, we all struggled with the pros and cons of putting content online for a virtual audience. “You’ll dilute your audience!”, “It’s too expensive to stream live content.”, “It’s too hard to contain the event content”, “How do you maximize your revenue potential if everyone is going to just login and watch “for free” with one credential?”
Then, we were all forced to virtual as the delivery medium, and it was all like “Hey, at least this will be so much less expensive than staging a live event!” No F&B minimums to meet, no hotel fees, no decorator’s fees…but turns out, it’s nowhere near the silver bullet we thought it would be. Along with no fees for the hotel, there is significantly less revenue to be had from partners and sponsors who just don’t get the foot traffic they would at a live event. And the virtual platforms are so much better than they used to be, but let’s be honest…everyone wants an open-world experience, but the infrastructure just isn’t there for the budget that most everyone can afford. So yeah, planning an event these days…is as challenging as ever.
But what about five years from now? What will events look like when we hope things have settled down from this nightmare? I can’t predict the future, but I am confident about what will work. The most successful events will take the time needed to do three things…and do them VERY well.
Intimately know your audience…what do they want? What are their spoken and unspoken needs? Professionally / Personally? What’s going on in the culture that we are all dealing with? What are the real, measurable objectives of the company who is staging the event? What do we want the audience to do as a result of attending? How do we want to change their (our) world?
Use the entire, available toolkit of engagement strategies and content delivery tactics to craft an event that will exceed the needs of the audience, the partners and sponsors and the company’s brand.
Execute pre-, during and post-event in close alignment with the clearly-defined objectives set forth in the strategic planning sessions. Pay attention to every meticulous detail.
Yeah, I know, I’m not telling you anything you seasoned professionals don’t already know. But it’s too easy to forget the fundamentals when you’re struggling to stay alive…both professionally and personally.
If you listen, people can’t wait to get back to a real, live, face-to-face scenario. So persevere…because when we do get back to doing live events on a regular basis, remember to use everything we’ve learned over the past year to create an even deeper engagement than we could before all this. Hang in there ya’ll. We’ve got this!