For event professionals all over the world, the carpet has just been ripped out from underneath us – thanks COVID-19! The future’s looking uncertain and we’re all intensely looking into our crystal balls to find answers.
Trust me I understand! I’ve had many conversations over the last couple of weeks both with my peers here in New Zealand and abroad, and we’re all doing the same thing.
If there’s one thing I do know right now is that this will pass and when it does in-person business events will return strong. I believe this because we humans, we love to interact with others, we love a good conversation and we vibe off the energy of others.
The virtual event scene is booming right now, and while this is filling the void it won’t stop people from wanting to attend in-person events.
I want to share the plan we’ve put in place for the events we deliver for our clients in a hope that this helps you see what the bigger picture might look like. It’s the best of my crystal ball gazing alongside some global conversations with other event managers.
I’ve got four buckets (scenarios) that we’re putting our events into.
EVENT PLAN A
This is the do-nothing plan! Your event will go ahead as planned.
Events in this bucket are likely scheduled to take place in 2021. However, if your event is an international conference in early 2021 you might be taking a different approach – that type of event might fall into one of the following buckets.
EVENT PLAN B
Now every good event has a Plan B regardless!
What does your Plan B look like?
For us in the current environment, it’s when you’re going ahead with your event, although you’re expecting reduced numbers. This is likely to be for an event that is planned to take place in the last quarter of 2020.
For example: You had planned an event for 500 people however, it’s likely you’ll need to reforecast for 250 or an event for 200 people and it is decreased to 100.
Moving away from Plan A and implementing Plan B, your marketing strategy is likely to be on hold, probably through to the end of May.
It may also mean looking for additional ways to gather revenue. So, you may consider live streaming components of the event and charging a registration. This will appeal to people who still don’t feel comfortable travelling but want to participate in your event.
We are also implementing a contingency plan that includes securing an alternative date with a venue at least 3 months out. We’ll implement the contingency plan depending on what happens over the next six weeks.
However, the current circumstances we face today means we need to have a Plan C and D. So let’s take a look at what they might be.
EVENT PLAN C
Okay, so you have determined that Plan A and Plan B aren’t appropriate options for your event.
Plan C is likely to be appropriate where your event was due to take place before September this year.
This is where you’ll want to consider transforming your in-person event to a virtual event. And no, a virtual event is not just a webinar! (that’s a story for another day).
You’ll be able to take budget lines like catering, equipment hire, décor, signage and put that towards the technology needed to host a virtual event.
You might be thinking…..AH I have already booked a venue!!!!
Do not panic!
You may be able to exercise the Force Majeure/Unforeseen Circumstances clause in the venue hire contract. How you proceed will depend on the kind of contract management and event insurance you have in place. You should consult your lawyer and get solid legal advice on how to proceed.
PLAN D EVENT
Plan D is to either postpone or cancel the event.
We’ve been applying Plan D to events that were due to take place before September this year. But again, each event is different. For example, one of our clients whose event was booked for October 2020 has already decided to postpone and move their event into 2021.
Just like in Plan C if you had already booked a venue and signed the venue hire contract, get some legal advice.
I hope by sharing our approach this gives you a systematic way to think about the options available to you for your events. We’re here to support you through this with – we’re stronger together. Click here to book some time to catch up with Sandra over a virtual coffee to connect and chat.
For the Auaha Squad quarter, four of 2020 and 2021 is looking bright and we can’t wait to get back to in-person events but in the meantime, we’re working on virtual events … preferably live virtual events. Stay tuned for more on that.
To conclude I want to leave you with this quote from Eckhart Tolle
“When faced with a radical crisis, when the old way of being in the world, of interacting with each other and with the realm of nature doesn’t work anymore, when survival is threatened by seemingly insurmountable problems, an individual life-form, or a species, will either die or become extinct or rise above the limitations of its condition through an evolutionary leap.”