Does Planning Live or Hybrid Events Make Sense At the Moment?
While live meetings are in full swing in some parts of the world, virtual events still seem to be the overwhelming choice for most corporate clients at least through the end of 2021.
Keeping attendees engaged and informed in a meaningful manner has become more difficult as the pandemic begins yet another wave. For many virtual events and conferences, attendance has plummeted by close to 50% according to many industry executives due to ZOOM fatigue, lack of interaction and time constraints.
So, is now the time to think about moving forward with planning either live or hybrid events for 2022? The answer is a resounding yes! Covid is not going anywhere soon, even as vaccination rates continue to rise. Therefore, it is important to begin the planning process now in a responsible manner that takes into consideration the outcomes that you are hoping to achieve and then using either live or hybrid solutions to reach your target audience.
So, what does this mean to you? Things are different and there are more obligations and rules to bear in mind when planning; contracts, safety and budgets are all areas that have changes immensely in the past 18 months. Consider the messaging for your event and the target audience, would your major demographic be comfortable in a live setting or would they prefer the choice of a hybrid scenario? When in doubt. send out a survey at the beginning of the planning process to capture your target audiences view on meeting onsite.
Once you have a clear indication of whether you will do a live or hybrid event, it's time to rethink contracts with venues adding new force majeure clauses that allow for changes, accommodations, and more concise wording to protect and limit your exposure.
You'll also want to rethink your budgets, if hybrid makes sense for your audience, think of it as two separate events combined...your costs will be close to double in many instances. And if your event is live, be prepared for possible sticker shock, as cost have increased based on yields, preparation, and cleaning costs. And we won't even address staffing shortages, get the facts now in the negotiating stages to help you make the critical planning decisions so that you will be well prepared as things continue to evolve.
Lastly, think about safety, how can you make your audience feel most comfortable in this new environment? Will you provide masks, ask for proof of vaccine, negative tests or provide rapid screening? What contact information will be required of attendees and what will your response be if someone tests positive? Some of these answers may be dictated by local health units, but critical planning and back up measures are more important than they have ever been.
People crave collaboration, sharing ideas and networking. As event planners, we too crave the opportunity to do what we love. But things are different now, and whether it's a live or hybrid event, it is our responsibility to provide our clients with current, innovative and methodical solutions so that they can provide their audiences with a safe environment to learn, network and collaborate.