By Mahider Tadesse
The event industry all but came to a screeching halt when the world began shutting down earlier this year. With travel bans in densely populated cities across the globe, international event-planning has had to restrategize to keep our events safe and in-line with recommended public health guidelines. In-person and hybrid events will look different, but there are ways to ensure that your event allows your participants to make connections, enjoy their time, and learn.
We have spoken about the significant challenges that the international event industry faces— now, let’s talk about some of the solutions we can implement as we move forward into the new year.
Hybrid and Virtual Events
Hybrid and virtual events had been gaining popularity prior to the unprecedented challenges of 2020. With great software and services available to the event industry, hosting remote or hybrid events is one of the safest ways to plan your event.
While virtual and hybrid events cannot capture the organic human interaction that in-person events provide, they do have their own unique benefits. Taking your events virtual means an incredible ability to gather a much larger audience at a lower cost. Many of the available virtual event platforms have the ability to host hundreds of attendees, multiple presenters, and some even provide a virtual-reality like setting. Virtual features like digital breakout rooms for topic discussion and networking provide a solution for your attendees to experience a more personalized and natural event.
Hybrid events take a physical event and add an accessible virtual attendance option for those who aren’t able to attend in person. While some cities and countries are opening back up, there are still many locations where travel and gatherings are severely, if not entirely, restricted. If your event usually has both local and international attendees, the hybrid model is an excellent solution to include all interested parties.
Hybrid events take a bit more coordination. Event planners will want to deliver a uniform experience to both in-person and virtual attendees. Having a dedicated virtual host that can help live stream speakers, admin chat rooms, and answer questions will help your virtual audience get the most out of their experience. Networking isn’t out of the question when it comes to hybrid events either, many platforms allow for information exchange between attendees and breakout rooms to continue conversations. While hybrid events do double the logistics and coordination needed to execute, they do allow for your audience to attend in a way that is practical for them.
Many organizations have been utilizing virtual platforms to help with event planning for years. In 2020, with many international travel bans and restrictions, virtual events continue to be a great way to reach an international audience without having them leave their homes.
A common concern with virtual events is they are not as valuable as in-person events because there is a lack of organic interaction with other attendees. But virtual doesn’t have to mean robotic. As mentioned previously, virtual event platforms have unique solutions to this concern, and arguably make it more accessible for people to make these connections. With features like chat rooms, dedicated virtual networking spaces, virtual Q&A panels, virtual goody bags, and more your event can still deliver a valuable experience.
It’s expensive to hold an in-person event, both for you and guests. Virtual events are easier on your wallet, and your guests no longer have to factor in budget for hotel or other travel accommodations. With virtual events your budget can go even further, since the event is virtual, so is everything else! This can reduce or eliminate printing costs and venue rental. At Hallpax, we have started our journey with virtual events and are planning to host many more.
As we move forward, in-person events will undoubtedly look different than those of the past. In the current state of public health, in-person events are limited, but not impossible for an event that can only be held in person.
A consideration you’ll want to make, especially for your guests, is the local cost of accommodations. Many hotels and event venues are at limited capacity, causing a spike in pricing. Since hotels aren’t filling their rooms and venue space like they used to, higher prices are helping offset lack of demand. This could create lower attendance than usual, so be sure to proactively scope out the cost and provide that information to your guests in advance.
Take into consideration, as well, how other parts of your in-person event will be affected by local laws and health mandates. One of the most popular aspects of an in-person event can be the food. Think about how you’ll have to approach catering differently, will you have food at all? Gone are the days of care-free buffets and hors d’oeuvre trays, but with a little creativity and planning, food is not out of the question.
One approach to successful in-person events amid the current circumstances is holding outdoor events. Open air events are a great compromise to hold a safe in-person event. With no concerns about closed ventilation, this may ease concerns for attendees.
In the past, organizations may have used pens or keychains to help with branding during in-person events, but given the environment you may want to switch it up. A great idea is to hand out branded hand sanitizer and face masks. This allows you to keep your brand present while also helping your hosts and attendees stay safe.
While we don’t know what is coming next for the international event planning industry, we can take this opportunity to be creative and resourceful when it comes to local, virtual, or hybrid events. Although there are challenges that have been made to this industry due to COVID-19, there are also solutions and alternatives you can take advantage of.
Are you looking to learn more about hosting an event? Let us help you! Hallpax is dedicated to making your event planning process enjoyable and stress-free. We are passionate about the cities we work with, and with our in-person presence in Africa, we help our clients navigate their cities of choice with ease.