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Turning Lessons from COVID

Turning Lessons from COVID-19 into Better Face-to-Face Events

Before hitting restart on in-person events, organizers need to be armed with the knowledge of not only how events used to be run, but also how they need to run now. In the last few months, the Ungerboeck Asia-Pacific team has held five successful in-person events in Australia and New Zealand. The ability to collaborate and network face-to-face again while sharing educational content and exchanging ideas was a key highlight for all. However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing due to the protocols of the post-COVID world.

When the Ungerboeck team held our in-person events, we found new ways to support event organizers, venues, and audiences onsite. Here are six best practices to consider as you reopen for business:

1. Discuss rescheduling options with venues.

Since sudden lockdowns are still a possibility, so are unforeseen pauses on in-person events. In fact, our team experienced this exact situation. Our fourth show needed to be postponed because of a snap lockdown. Fortunately, the venue was more than happy to reschedule, and the event successfully took place later in the month.

Event organizers should always be prepared to pivot quickly in case of last-minute changes and should talk with the venue about options for rescheduling at the time of booking. Venues need to offer the flexibility to cancel and/or rebook without any penalties. Partnering ahead of time on a contingency plan fosters a sense of ease and reassurance for event planners, and it also helps audiences feel more comfortable attending knowing safety protocols are being followed.

2. Hold your event in multiple hubs.

When we held one of our first post-COVID face-to-face events, we brought it to four locations around Australia and one in New Zealand, instead of just one centralized location. Not only did it save costs for attendees by reducing money spent on flights, accommodation, and time away from the office, but it also helped to condense the number of days the event was held.

3. Build attendee confidence.

Safety needs to be a top priority. If people don’t feel safe attending your face-to-face event, they aren’t going to come.

Familiarize yourself with venue hygiene. Find out how often the venue is cleaned, locate hand sanitation stations, and make sure venue staff can respond quickly to potential risks. Room diagramming can help you adhere to social distancing regulations enforced in your region. If masks are required, clearly communicate those policies to your audience at the time of registration, leading up to the event through email and social channels, and again as they arrive at the venue. Promote all safety guidelines on your event website. If you serve food, individually package food items, provide boxed meals, or have staff serve people instead of using a buffet-style setup.

4. Provide appealing content – now more than ever before.

After over a year of attending virtual events, attending in-person is going to be less appealing to some than it was pre-COVID. Content plays an integral part in enticing attendees. Event planners need to grab their attention to get them to register and attend onsite.

Since collaboration and networking are the most-missed elements for virtual events, make them a priority at your in-person event. Offer multiple ways for people to mingle and make up for missed networking opportunities.

5. Limit the number of attendees.

Since COVID-era restrictions haven’t completely gone away, event planners may need to comply with government-mandated regulations on the number of people allowed to attend. Venues themselves could also cap how many attendees you can invite.

A hybrid event with a virtual event experience can let you bring your message to more people. You can better engage virtual attendees via digital interaction by offering ways for everyone to communicate with each other. Hybrid events also let you capture valuable data and audience insights that can help you improve future events.

6. Go contactless.

Tapping into mobile app technology makes attendee management and communication much easier. With an event app, you can send push notifications to promote safety guidelines or announce last-minute changes. You can also reduce the number of touchpoints once people are onsite. Use the app for self-serve registration check-in and generate individual QR codes attendees can scan when they leave and enter the venue. This makes contract tracing and social distancing a lot easier. Using digital signage at the venue can also help communicate important details without the need for physical pamphlets.

As we put the pandemic behind us, Ungerboeck remains dedicated to innovating new solutions for event professionals. We’re grateful to get back to in-person events and for the opportunity to share how our first-hand experiences can benefit the industry we love in a post-COVID world.