How to stay connected and still offer value to your event attendees

Event businesses all over the world have been affected by recent incidents that impact travel including a travel ban, a political crisis, and a pandemic disease.

This article talks about how these occurrences impact event businesses as well as event-goers around the world. We’ll go over some actionable tips and strategies you can implement to minimize the negative effects on your event business and steps you can take to ensure the safety of your attendees and staff members.

In-person events may be cancelled, but you can still offer your attendees something in the mean-time.

The spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) has curtailed many events across the globe. The current health crisis is posing a unique challenge for event planners to come up with creative solutions. 

After withdrawing from MWC Barcelona, Sony made the decision to promote its latest phone at the MWC event by releasing a video on YouTube. By enabling event-goers to attend events virtually and facilitating online networking and promotion, event planners can create a possible win-win situation for everyone, while delivering on their contractual promises.

Insurance companies are actively working to exclude COVID-19 from event cancellation policies. So, you need to make sure that you’re covered in case someone at your event gets sick and take legal action. You need to carefully measure the risk to your event business and the impact of cancellations to avoid health, legal, and other potential threats to your company.

Here are some tips and strategies you can use to minimize the impact of this crisis to your event planning:

#1: Host Virtual Events

Organizing a virtual event is easy to put together as long as your speakers, presenters, and invitees have access to the internet. Regardless of where they’re located, once your team members and remote attendees get online, you can start hosting your event in a virtual environment.

From seminars to product promotions, there are many different kinds of virtual events that enable organizations, individuals, companies, and charities to increase awareness, generate engagement and connect with their audiences. This is an effective strategy especially when attendees around the world are pulling out of events due to health and safety concerns like COVID-19.

You can use a tool like Google Hangouts to host virtual events such as training workshops, conferences, and interviews. It’s easy to use and lets you connect remotely with your audience. You’ll also need an event management solution to accept registrations and sell tickets. Event Espresso is event registration and ticketing software that lets you offer online registration, ticketing, and payment options to your customers directly through your website.

As we mentioned above, a number of global events were cancelled this year including MWC Barcelona. This has led many brands to rush for alternate ways to engage attendees and promote their offerings. Some of them turned to digital platforms, like GIGABYTE which took its exhibition online allowing partners, customers, and users to learn about its latest developments for the 5G technology and even gave them a digital tour of its MWC booth build.

Similarly, Armani had to cancel its fashion event Milan Fashion Week that would have been held in Italy in February. The event was organized in the event space as planned (without an audience) and streamed live on the web.

#2: Keep Live Event Attendees Safe

Hopefully as things begin to calm in the near future [as we are all hoping to see], and you do begin to think about rescheduling your in-person events, it’s advisable to still act with caution and take preventative steps to keep your attendees safe.

After you’ve figured out the right plan of action for your event planning moving forward, you can utilize many tools to make your events even safer than before. With Event Espresso, you can set up a waitlist to better manage online registrations so you don’t exceed the venue’s maximum capacity. Keep in mind that your staff members, security team, and other personnel should also be accounted for in the venue capacity limit.

Here are some more actionable tips to help you keep live event attendees safe:

  • Share general health safety tips on your blog and in email newsletters.
  • Create a helpful infographic and send it out along with safety tips in event reminder emails.
  • Provide sanitation stations, tissues, wipes, and facemasks at the event venue.
  • Place sign-age on-site that directs guests to follow health safety tips including covering mouths and noses when they cough or sneeze, discarding tissues properly, and sanitizing their hands right away.
  • Encourage guests to maintain “social distancing” which means that they should avoid shaking hands at the venue and stand a minimum of three feet away from other people.

#3: Keep Attendees Up to Date About Changes to Your Event Calendar

It’s also important to keep attendees up to date about changes to your event calendar. By staying in touch with them and keeping them informed about any cancellations, and your future event plans they can still remain connected to your organization and those with like interests.

Your event page should enable prospective attendees to communicate with other prospective attendees, event organizers, and staff members. Having a centralized platform (your event website) is a great way to keep attendees updated about changes to events. Using Event Espresso, you can allow discussions about events through public comments.

You can also share updates through your event blog, social media pages (Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook), as well as email.

#4: Establish a Refund Policy

Lastly, as an event organizer you should have a clearly defined refund policy.  This information should be communicated clearly on your event page and inform your attendees on what your event refund policy is, and also how they would go about getting a refund.

Since Event Espresso does not actually handle any of the funds that are transferred through to your payment gateway, be aware that we have no access to your funds, and we do not hold onto any funds that are paid by your registered attendees. Other platforms such as Eventbrite do hold funds as a standard practice until after the event. They may be changing their policy and extending that hold period, which can make it very difficult to process refunds in a timely manner during this health crisis when so many events are being cancelled.

Then, if you do find that your organization will have to cancel an event and provide your registered attendees a refund, you can do this in Event Espresso by cancelling the transaction and then processing the refund by going through your payment gateway such as Stripe or PayPal. 

Conclusion

External factors are a constant threat to event businesses, however, you can minimize the negative impact it has on your event by understanding how they affect you and your attendees, and taking appropriate measures.

Have you organized virtual events or conferences? If so, which tools did you use? Let us know by commenting below.

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