Many industries were hit hard by the outbreak of COVID-19 earlier this year. However, few industries have been impacted by the crisis as severely as the events industry. Companies that specialise in organising and/or hosting live events have been struggling since social distancing rules were enforced earlier this year.
Several of these businesses involved with events closed down due to pandemic conditions. However, other event companies have adapted to this new “normal” by adopting safe and inventive practices.
Here are some of the ways in which companies are hosting events during the pandemic.
1 – Hosting Virtual Events
Social distancing rules have created many hurdles for event management companies to overcome. Live events are challenging to hold in person as it would likely mean violating these social distancing guidelines.
To combat this issue and keep attendees safe, many event organisers have chosen to host virtual events instead of in-person ones. These virtual events may not be as effective for networking as in-person events, but they are a better option than outright cancelling the event itself.
Webinars are virtual seminars that gained popularity following the outbreak of COVID-19. These events typically last around 60 minutes and feature video workshops, presentations, and/or lectures hosted on webinar software.
Your event company may find it easier to host a webinar than an in-person seminar due to many reasons. You won’t have to book a physical event venue or hire a catering company for your webinar, so they can be less stressful to manage.
In addition to this, you won’t have to worry about the safety of your guests or protecting them from the Coronavirus. Your attendees can freely interact with each other using text chat and screen sharing capabilities.
The content screened in your webinar can be live or pre-recorded. This gives organisers more freedom to customize their presentations and ensures they go as planned.
Each attendee can also aid presentations by participating in polls. This is an activity that would be difficult to carry out at in-person events, so webinars may actually be better than in-person events in some cases.
Virtual conferences are another type of virtual event that has caught on during the pandemic. These events may appear similar to webinars at first, but they do possess some key differences.
Virtual conferences allow for varying levels of audience participation. Some virtual conferences allow attendees to interact with presenters, while others allow attendees to take the center stage themselves. By contrast, webinars put presenters in a position of power, and rarely allow attendees to steer the direction of the presentation.
Virtual conferences can be set up using any video conferencing software. There’s no shortage of these software available in 2020; however, they can vary in terms of features and capacity.
Some virtual conferencing software can support a very limited number of participants, say 10 people. Other video conferencing software can accommodate hundreds of participants, but they may limit video conferences to 40 minutes each.
Event companies will need to pick the software that meets their event’s unique capacity and duration needs.
2 – Hosting In-person Events After COVID-19
Experts say that a cure for the Coronavirus is still many months away. So event organisers will have to adapt to pandemic conditions as the new normal if they wish to remain in business. Virtual events have provided some event management companies with temporary solutions; however, many of these companies are itching to host live events again.
The safest option for organisers would be to postpone their in-person events until 2021. This is what many musical festival organisers across the globe have done. However, if your event has to be held in-person this year, you will need to take several special precautions to ensure both attendees and organisers stay safe.
Train Staff to Follow Social Distancing
Hosting an in-person event after COVID-19 can be a challenge not just due to the danger the virus poses to attendees, but also the danger that event staff will be exposed to during set-up. Each event company that is hosting these events will need to train their staff to follow proper social distancing measures when they are setting up for the event.
This means providing staff with safety masks, and encouraging them to collaborate remotely using video conferencing and remote working software whenever possible. The goal of set-up should be to keep everyone safe in the days leading up to your event.
Keeping Attendees Safe During Events
Organisers will have to select special venues that can accommodate enough attendees for the event to be profitable, while also practicing social distancing during the event itself. This means keeping seating at least 1.5 meters apart and reminding attendees to maintain social distancing guidelines.
Event organisers should also ask attendees to wear safety masks before entering the event venue. They can also provide attendees with facemasks at the event entrance and set up hand sanitizer stations around the facility to ensure everyone’s safety.
Your event length should also be kept short to minimise attendee exposure to the virus. Similarly, the event should not feature food service catering, as it could cause attendees to catch the virus.
As you can see, there are many ways for event organisers to manage their events after COVID-19. These companies will need to make some significant changes if they wish to survive during these troubling times.
The best way for event management companies to succeed is to view the changes as opportunities to grow and evolve. For example, event organisers may no longer have use for catering services if they are switching to hosting exclusively virtual events. Instead, these companies could develop relationships with their virtual event hosting software providers to improve the quality of their virtual events.
These changes aren’t ideal, but they will be easier to manage in the future when other companies learn to adapt their services to these new conditions.
Sarah Hill is a content writer at Seven Events Ltd – a leading venue finder in Birmingham offering event organising, conference organiser and event production in Birmingham. She started her career in the events industry almost a decade ago as time progressed she became an avid event blogger sharing her insight on corporate event planning.