Here’s a look into what we, as event professionals, and our attendees might expect when live events are back on.
The past few months for the event industry have been anything but easy. The regulations put in place due to COVID-19 have essentially prevented all gatherings both large and small from taking place, which is, of course, the nucleus of all live events. With the inability to attend venues, most event professionals have spent the last few months scrambling to find innovative new ways to reach clients and prepare for the future. Even though the return date for in-person events is still unknown, it is important that we begin to understand what the ‘new normal’ may look like once it arrives. This will allow us to be ready for the obvious changes that will be implemented when we do come together again. So, what will this new normal look like? Here’s a look into what we, as event professionals, and our attendees might expect when live events are back on.
First, a look at how accommodations will be changing. The hospitality industry has begun taking measures to ensure travelers are properly taken care of while reducing the risk of exposure. With that in mind, guest’s experiences will be quite different than what they’re used to. For starters, the check-in desk may be eliminated completely. Some hotels have already begun doing curbside check-ins to avoid contact between employees and customers. To piggyback on this practice of social distancing, bellhops may no longer be available to help you get your belongings to your room. When getting to the room itself, the doorknob of the door may be removed to eliminate contact points and mini-bars may no longer be stocked with drinks and snacks. For more on how hotels are handling this crisis, check out this article from CNBC.com here.
You’ve flown all the way in, you’ve spent the night at your hotel, and now it is finally time to attend the event. The Event Leadership Institute hosted a webinar to discuss changes that will likely be implemented to enforce safety precautions. Like hotel rooms, expect venues to have touchless door entries, as well as automatic faucets. Expect plexi partitions between things like concessions and a big emphasis on disinfecting. Attendees can also expect to be pre-screened before entering the event. This may include questionnaires and temperature checks. This process will likely cause longer wait times getting into the venue, which may prompt later conference start times to accommodate the new procedures. As far as event locations, it is possible that we see conferences held in specific cities and regions that have been less affected by the virus. Cities like New York, for example, who have been hit the hardest by COVID-19 will be less likely to hold large events in the near future. For the safety of all guests, it would make the most sense to host events in less susceptible areas at the beginning of the re-opening process. We may also see conferences move to smaller, more regionally based events.
The expo floor may look a little different too. Take exhibits – event professionals and their exhibit partners will need to rethink exhibit designs to accommodate proper social distancing measures. For this reason, we anticipate a shift towards larger exhibit spaces, to enable greater distancing for product demonstrations and theaters where people tend to congregate. We also expect to see a move towards hybrid events, meaning there is both a virtual event and live event component. Once venues are officially reopened, it may still be some time before events reach full capacity again, due to varying degrees of comfort level in being part of public gatherings. A hybrid event will enable the event organizers to reach a larger audience by accommodating both in person and remote attendees.
Bottom line, live events will look and feel a little different when they‘re back on. And while we’re going to have to adapt to the “new normal,” people crave experiences and connections and there’s still no better way to do that than through live events (except maybe MSM’s virtual experiences platform, LiVi!). The outbreak of COVID-19 is an unprecedented event, and with that comes the unknown. What is known, however, is that we will be back soon enough. It may be a slow process, but it will eventually lead to event professionals and attendees alike gathering again. Until then, let’s GET READY!
Our team of remote experiential experts are ready to help you navigate the new normal, bring your brand story to life, and develop sustainable, innovative ways you can continue connecting and engaging with your customers to drive business growth.