3 Event Trends Post-Covid
For the past month, I got to be a marketing mentor in a certification program for event planners. Oh, those poor event planners. The last two years haven’t been easy on many industries, but it’s hard to argue that event planners haven’t been among the most affected.
It is beginning to seem like the world is inching back to normal. (I think? I hope?) In so many ways, we’re all wondering what “normal” will look like. Last week we talked about how QR codes have become part of everyday life in ways they weren’t before the pandemic.
Event Trends Post-Covid
Because of this, Create That’s research lead Vanessa Paredes recently put together a report about how events, seminars, and conferences are changing due to the pandemic. I found it eye-opening, so I wanted to share her 3 most helpful findings. Take it away, Vanessa…
Trend #1: Remote attendance option is here to stay
While physical events are coming back, there seems to be a consensus among industries to move toward a hybrid model, combining virtual and physical offerings. Such events can reach a broader audience because it gives participants the choice of going to the venue or joining remotely.
Trend #2: People want a replay option
The common webinar behaviour of offering a replay of the event for later viewing has started to spill over to other types of conferences and events. Even children’s dance recitals have gone online and are being recorded so families can watch later.
Offering a replay is optional: this will depend on each host. If you don’t provide replay, this can create a sense of scarcity and FOMO, but offering it could offer a broader reach. The replay can also be for a limited time.
Webinar fatigue is a phenomenon that increased because of COVID. From a host’s perspective, here are some strategies that can help overcome webinar oversaturation:
- Focus on the “why.” The copywriting and promotion strategy should be more specific than ever on why people should attend your webinar.
- Stick to topics of most interest to the audience. If the audience feels the host is pushing their agenda instead of giving valuable content, they will leave the webinar.
- Mix up your content formats: a mix of audio, video, and slideshows will make the presentation more engaging and interesting.
- Interact with the audience: the host can’t just make a presentation. Speak with attendees every now and then during the presentation to build rapport and keep them engaged.
- Rely on storytelling: this is a proven way to connect with the audience. Presenters can use storytelling from the promotion to the presentation itself.
- Use gamification: tools like games or contests with prizes embedded in the webinar content will break the ice and keep people interested. (Note from Bridget: I worked on an event that used this coin flip game and gave the winner a prize. It’s fast and fun.)
Bonus Tips for a Successful Post-covid Event
Many event planning experts recommend running a survey among a sample of the target audience before planning any event. You don’t want to assume that a virtual event will be what your audience prefers because fatigue due to the use of virtual platforms as a substitute for in-person events and activities is also a reality.
The best practices for making an event successful suggest you should:
- Make a study of the target audience: know what the target audience needs, what challenges they face, and what they want to see at your event before you even start planning.
- Define the event’s goals and plan the marketing strategy and the logistics around those goals. Not all the events may be a fit for using the free version of Zoom, for example.
- Do event-specific branding. Organizers should carefully build the marketing materials, promotion channels and copywriting around the theme of the event and the audience the event is targeting.
- Buy online advertising if possible. Use your target audience and event goals to choose the platforms to be used.
- Rely on a team. Whether in person or online, ensure you have a tech support team. This team may include chat moderators, a technical expert on the platform hosting the event, or a technical expert for the audio-video equipment you’re using. You may also wish to have a guest coordinator.
- Have a backup for everything. This includes the internet, your event platform, as well as any physical equipment. Test everything a day before as well as a few hours before the event.
- Think about your target audience’s routine when scheduling the day and time of the event.
Before setting ticket prices and other logistic aspects of the event, experts recommend studying the costs and setting a budget. According to Clarity Experiences, “When looking at the cost for your virtual event, a good place to start is with what your previous live event budget was. From there, you can figure out what elements you want in your virtual event and what elements you don’t.
Oftentimes, you will need to use some of your travel, hotel, and food and beverage budget, which were part of your live event budget, to support the production costs of your virtual event. So just because your event is virtual, it doesn’t mean you will reduce your overall spend.”
In closing, don’t assume a virtual event is faster or easier to plan than an in-person one. The time it takes to organize a virtual event will depend on the complexity, but according to Clarity, virtual events still have planning time frames that range between 4 to 6 months.