5 Big Issues Facing Events Managers During The Pandemic Age – And How To Overcome Them
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a recent hire in a newly developed role, event managers all over the world are adapting to what could be cautiously defined as ‘post-pandemic’ life.
Of course, the impact of COVID-19 is far from over. Much of its early impact still lingers in the shape of budget cuts, wobbling brand recognition and evolving business structures – while current affairs surrounding vaccine mandates, mask-wearing and social contact continue to infiltrate everyday life.
The events industry is tentatively re-gaining momentum, but waves of uncertainty and doubt can still hold us back. Should we maximise our efforts, even if they could be dashed – or should we hold back and hope that our best work can be delivered during a less volatile (albeit unknown) period?
Fortunately, we needn’t take an all-or-nothing approach. Many common quandaries facing events managers today can be negotiated to our advantage and success – so let’s take a closer look…
1. Should Events Be In Person or Remote?
With legislation often a state of flux, it can be hard to keep up with the long-term picture – and could be costly if predictions are wrong.
If you plan to run a virtual event ‘just in case’, you might wonder if it’ll be lacklustre when compared to an in-person equivalent. That said, if you arrange a compelling face-to-face event, what do you stand to lose if you must cancel?
Small drive-to meetings, workshops and seminars are one way in which the event industry intends to rebuild itself. Held locally with attendees from a relatively close area, for a short period of time, you can offer some of the buzz of an in-person event without too much risk in terms of booking hotel rooms, providing huge amounts of catering or large-scale social mixing.
Of course, you could always offer a digital version of the event via livestream, too – so nobody needs to miss out.
Ultimately, flexibility is your friend. The better you can adapt, the less you stand to lose, which leads us nicely on to….
2. Enabling Technology and Change
We all learned to play our best hand and hope for the best during covid, but waiting for the industry to snap back to its pre-2020 landscape could be a losing game.
It makes sense to play it safe with hand sanitiser and face masks – but for event execution, being brave and embracing positive change can be of huge, long-term benefit.
The remote event dilemma pushed a whole host of new and innovative technology to the fore. By adapting and exploring these options, you could futureproof your events management and be ready for whatever lingers around the corner.
Recent technology has introduced us to:
- Mobile apps for bookings, engagement, guest check-ins and ordering food
- Streaming services to assist presenting
- AI chatbots
- Wearable smart technology, such as smart wristbands to help cut queues
… and plenty more besides.
Much of this technology is white-labelled and ready to be emblazoned with your brand, for extra panache.
Events management technology won’t just enrich your experiences on the day, either. Most will have a data-gathering and reporting element, allowing you to discover more about the behaviour of your attendees, including what they chose to engage with and how; so, you can use your new-found knowledge to learn, improve and create an even more user-centric event next time.
Ultimately, most emergent technology is evergreen – or at least, a viable solution for years rather than months. You may have initially engaged with it to solve a covid-related issue, but it could be the catalyst for new and innovative events that wouldn’t even have been explored pre-pandemic.
So, why not use change as an opportunity and embrace it as best you can. It could be the ticket to new-found success.
3. Tightening Budgets
Most events managers have had their budget slashed due to covid uncertainty, or as a result of company-wide cutbacks to claw back lost revenue. Similarly, cancelled events at the height of the pandemic may have hit you in the pocket as well.
You’ll have to do more with less, while still wanting to make an impact. Often, it feels like an uphill battle where you are eternally on the back foot. So, what can you do?
There’s no magic bullet to create more money, but you can certainly endeavour to maximise what you’ve been allocated. Investing in the evergreen technology mentioned above is a good place to start; it might have a significant outlay, but it can be re-purposed with every event you run, offering good long-term value. In addition, the data learning opportunities can cut risk by helping you make more of the right decisions; meanwhile, automation options can significantly reduce labour costs.
By getting creative with catering, you could divert your budget from large, luxurious menus to smaller (but more interesting) solutions.
The days where attendees were happy to queue up, share a ladle for the buffet and poke the available finger food, are gone for the foreseeable. Hygiene and cross-contamination awareness has become ingrained and habitual.
Wrapped grab-and-go meals don’t need to be reminiscent of a school cafeteria, so long as they are well-packaged. You can even focus on themes, so the dining experience doesn’t feel like it’s lacking – for example, a Japanese bento box needn’t be expensive to put together and feels more of an ‘experience’ when it’s paired with a cherry blossom décor.
If the food options can’t be elaborate, focus on making the venue an attractive place to take a break. It could cost far less per head.
By tracking engagement with your marketing and communications, you can reduce costly no-shows. An events management tool that leverages automation will be the golden ticket to achieve this.
In addition, you must be confident that your registration process is robust – so test, test and test again.
Your sales team are invaluable when it comes to securing attendance, so be sure to optimise visibility of the communications process and enhance their accountability, too.
Always negotiate with venues to find the best room rates for guests. If you don’t have the manpower to call around every hotel, a venue sourcing tool will help.
4 Venue Uncertainty
If your event is postponed, the venue is likely to be flexible to accommodate a future date – but often, you’ll only have a six-month window to rebook. So, you may find yourself under pressure to turn out a rescheduled event quickly, before your money is lost.
In this scenario, the best thing you can do is lean on the available technology. Use automation to cut as much admin time as possible, as well as managing your scheduled communications to drum up interest.
You should also make sure that your contact database is as clean as possible, at all times. When you need to build a guest list quickly, it’s imperative that you can reach the right people at the right time, and not waste effort by contacting irrelevant leads.
5. Knowledge Gaps
It may have been a couple of years since your last major event, so everyone’s feeling a little rusty – or perhaps you’ve had an internal shake-up and your team comprises of new or different staff, with limited experience. Either way, those knowledge gaps will need plugging so you can do your best work.
An established events partner is your secret weapon to drive planning forward. However, you may have lost your preferred agency as a result of the 2020 lockdown – or maybe your existing agency roster lack experience in the type of events you now need to create.
Take the time to survey events management agencies and be sure to have the right team in place to support you and your evolving needs. Rules and expectations in the events sector can change at a moment’s notice, especially in the post-pandemic world – so endeavour to partner with a creative communications and events production agency that will not only be on the ball with latest updates, but will make proactive suggestions off the back of them.
At UKSV, we believe that all events should be captivating, and it is our mission to make your events truly unforgettable.
- An award-winning events agency
- Specialists in live, virtual and hybrid events
- Experts in every stage of events management, from conception to delivery
- Well-established, with over 150 years collective industry experience.
Why not get in touch so we can have a chat about your requirements?