Corporate Event Planning In The New Normal: A Complete Guide
The pandemic has indeed had long-lasting effects on all walks of life. From nations going into complete lockdown, to travel bans, a lot came to a standstill with the advent of COVID-19. Much like the flights, innumerable events too had to be cancelled because of Coronavirus. From countless weddings and get-togethers to International Cricket World Cup, 2020 was hard on event organizers.
The same goes for businesses. Corporate events like conferences, trade shows, and meetings are more important than random social in-person gatherings. Unfortunately, those late-night annual events, company exhibitions, team-building events, and more are not the same anymore as they were two years back.
This has directly translated into industry-wide losses and some major setbacks. For instance, the industry of trade shows and exhibitions worth $101 billion incurred heavy losses last year.
Enough with the heavy, we also come bearing good news. While there’s no denying that the novel Coronavirus put a stopper on a lot of things, it also forced us to innovate and find alternatives to get the work done.
Just like school and colleges classes, and work meetings, corporate events too shifted to the virtual world. Companies are relying on the virtual world that is now the stimulus for corporate Is event planning. Be it a small conference or big trade show.
Clearly, virtual events are the way to go. However, is planning for an online event the same as that for an offline event? Yes and no. While the basics of event planning stay the same, there is a lot that you need to evolve into to make your event successful virtually.
So, if you are looking for a perfect guide to start planning a corporate event in the new normal, read on.
Going online: Virtual Events
In the new normal, virtual events have become the talk of the town. However, planning a virtual event may not be as straightforward as you think. Many companies would think having a reliable app for organizing an online meeting is just enough. Nonetheless, it’s totally the opposite. To a great extent, organizing a virtual event involves a lot of juggling for corporate event planners like you.
- How do I make it enjoyable?
- How to share rewards and send gifts?
- Who will be the right speaker?
To take care of all these, you need to care for digital spaces just as your actual event venues. This is what is essential from now on:
- Take care of physical meeting elements such as scheduling appointments, value-added content, sponsors, new opportunities, and one-on-one networking capabilities.
- Share multiple video streams simultaneously. This could be more than 10000 people at a time.
- Keep an eye on functionalities like Q&A, live chat, real-time captioning, and breakout rooms.
- Create a personalized experience for each attendee and guest.
- Make sure you have accessible transition settings because you never know where there will be the next shift.
Phew! That’s a lot of work to do. Do you see how one virus can change so much? However, are all events just virtual? Not really, the pandemic has also brought forth a new way of organizing corporate events: Hybrid Events. Trust us, these are here to stay, and here’s all you’d need to take care of if you want to pull off a great Hybrid Event.
The World of Hybrid Events
In the new normal, there is a lot of uncertainty. In fact, when it comes to planning corporate events most of the time, the hardest thing to figure out is that who would be able to make it to the event. So, it becomes essential to plan in such a way that you not only take care of those who are present at the physical venue but also those who would like to attend the event virtually. After all, while there are people who now miss interacting with others face to face, there are still many who would prefer avoiding any physical contact. That’s where the world of hybrid events is breeding.
Corporate Events in The New Normal: Planning a Hybrid Event
Without any doubt, Hybrid Event is literally the light at the end of the tunnel. Still, there are a few things to consider before going further with this great idea. Here are the things to consider while planning a hybrid event.
#1 Finding the right people
During and post-COVID situations are equally hard on both suppliers and planners. Just like Joanne Dennison, a brilliant event planner, says, “Some specialists [planners] were so many [into] face-to-face meetings that people didn’t figure out how to transfer to virtual.” So, your first challenge is to find people who’re skilled at managing events both on the physical as well as the virtual front.
Source: Marketing Profs
#2: Getting the right venue
For an entirely virtual event, it’s simply a video conference. However, the venue for the hybrid meeting is no less critical than face-to-face events.
Having a suitable space is about creating that WOW impression on the guests as well as attendees. There would be many questions coming in about ‘How to select the correct location?’. Here’s the answer to clear your doubts.
Overall, you should go for a location that’s enough to take care of your attendees, but at the same time makes a good impression on your virtual guests and has all provisions for virtual streaming. Moreover, do keep in mind not to book a bigger venue than you’d need. Be mindful of the fact that a large chunk of your attendees might attend virtually. Getting people to RSVP in advance might help. Lastly, of course, you’d have to check the venue’s arrangements for hygiene, social distance, and COVID safety. (We’ll get to that a little later!)
#3: Taking care of the travel
For the next 5 years or so, hybrid meetings would be more common than you can imagine. It is not just because of Coronavirus but because of many other good reasons. For instance, some people cannot afford to travel and spend their money to get to the event. Hence, encouraging more attendees via hybrid events or virtual events.
Source: Tourism New Zealand
Nevertheless, for people who actually want to travel, it’s not the same anymore. You have to take care of your safety and, most importantly, deal with the complex traveling policies.
Now, for you, this is another big challenge. However, there is a safe way out. Just think about these:
Yes, every company has a budget but is it enough to pay for attendees’ travel? Not just that, think about safety travel, hotel booking, and transfer cost. Make it clear and see if you can manage to bring most staff to the event.
These are uncertain times. You never know who might cancel the plan on short notice. What you can do to deal with this uncertainty is make sure you have group travel contracts with flexible requirements. Not just about the attendee’s details but also cancellation details.
Respect team member’s decisions
After all, for whom are you organizing this event? For your company, of course. We all know that any company is as good as the people it has. So, their safety should be your priority, especially if that event is overseas or somewhere distant. Well, that comes after they are willing to attend the event. You need not push those not comfortable in attending, let them take their own call.
Keep track of TSA
Something that is out of your control but still not-so-ignorable. The Travel Security Administration is there to take care of your attendee’s safe travel, but the uncertain stress is always there. Therefore, you need to keep an eye on that as well.
The attrition in the new normal
People are still not over the danger of traveling. This is why many employees would not even want to come and attend the event live. As in normal times, you would not negotiate for high attrition, but things have changed. You would increase attrition this time, and you need to partner with prospective venues for this concern.
Choose the suitable transport
From airlines to roadways, you need to see how the company reacts to the safety concerns of traveling. To be honest, you cannot control this entirely, but at least you can choose the right source. Hence, ensure sound travel for both employees and guests.
#4: Onsite Logistics (Safety and Experience Matters!)
While taking care of other arrangements, don’t forget to take care of your venue setting, aka your onsite setting. Now, for a safer and smooth event, there are many areas to consider. Read on to find out.
Cleanliness and safety
Even after most people are vaccinated, you still need to make sure your guests and company staff raise no complaints regarding safety. In the new normal, thorough cleaning of the venue is non-negotiable.
Talking about safety, for people who are at the venue to ensure everyone wears masks. Moreover, arranging frequent cleanliness and having hand sanitizer and hand-washing stations at every corner is undeniable.
Can you be creative when it comes to serving refreshments? Of course, you can. Also, this time, it has to be in the point of view of limiting the spread of germs.
Want some ideas? Why don’t you go to the buffet instead of waiting on the attendees? Self-service will indeed limit the spreading of germs. It may not be too much, but something is better than nothing.
Creating a good impression of the company? Why don’t you invest more time on display, layouts, and planning the venue decor in advance? This will help you create that fantasy event you have in your mind. Also, get the details to match the expectation from your client.
Company presentations should never be at risk. So, what else you should do is go with the signage trend. Display the best of your company. Not just that, you can actually print the date of the upcoming event or company slogans on masks, attendee’s cards, and IDs.
Plan a corporate event
Future events have to be value-added, must appreciate new ideas and voices, and encourage mindful discussions. Why? Because almost (even more than) half of the staff would be attending from home. How to make this possible in virtual events? The answer is well-execution of best quality broadcasting.
Source: Morning Consult
While these were the basics, there’s a lot more you can do to make your next corporate event in the new normal amazing. Here are some pro-tips to get you going.
Pro-Tips For Events In the New Normal
● Protecting your investment with insurance
When we think of insurance, insurance against natural disasters, criminal activities, and the inevitable crisis comes to mind. However, one thing that sticks in today’s time is unprecedented medical situations.
From now on, you need to find the best insurance that would cover COVID-related damages. In fact, this should go for any infectious diseases that hinder corporate event planning.
The event insurance and protecting investments are mainly dependent on how long this pandemic lasts. However, there is no argument about uncertainty in various fields.
● Procuring pitfalls and solutions
Imagine how badly companies are waiting to organize those corporate events they have been waiting for like two whole years. Now, think about the crowd that will burst in once the venues become available.
Irrespective of how big or small the event will be, finding a perfect venue would be a big deal. By perfect venue, I mean the location where you can rely upon the staff to care for every aspect. Be it about safety, security, maintaining rules, arrangements, and other criteria.
Suppose you have some general venue management that is great. You don’t have to struggle to find the best one. But, if not, you can move your meeting to fully or partially technical. As an event planner, you need to be an expert in crisis management of all types.
● Mitigating meeting and event risk
You have your venue, you have the list of all attendees, now you need to execute the plan as per the rules. The one thing you cannot ignore is taking steps to reduce severity and pain points. What do you need to do for corporate events?
- You must encourage attendees to get the vaccination on time. It should not be forced but inspired.
- Follow the guidelines set by the authority of the company as well as state officials.
- Take care of necessities like hand sanitizer, temperature check, hand washing stations, random testing of people at the event, and more.
- In fact, now that the vaccine is available almost everywhere, you can make sure all live attendees must provide their vaccination certificate for booking.
- Get a questionnaire for a better understanding of expectations and feedback. Make every question clear. Prefer to have separate questionnaires for medical and non-medical questionnaires.
- Be mindful while following up on the questionnaire responses.
- Ask attendees how their experience was so that you can consider this while planning for the next event.
- Create “low,” “medium,” and “high” categories of all arbitrary situations that could go wrong and implement them when the time arises.
The pandemic has made us redefine design, venue, blueprints, and everything about corporate event planning. Also, there would not be going back to traditional event planning anytime soon.
However, the good news is, these online meetings, virtual, and hybrid events have given us the chance to think out of the box. Hence this go-to guide to clear the fog for you.