Obviously, for the coming weeks (and perhaps months), events of all types will be on hiatus as citizens are asked to shelter in place and gatherings of more than ten individuals are prohibited or at least, strongly discouraged. While this puts many event management companies and platforms on hold for the time being, it hasn’t stopped some clever innovators from finding creative solutions to still host virtual events and get-togethers.
The reality is that in the present, there are only a few things that most event professionals can do:
However, this doesn’t mean that event profs work is done. In fact, there are many opportunities for event professionals to spend their time, energy, and creativity on right now. Here are just a few:
Long before COVID-19 put the brakes on the event industry, VR technology was already being explored as a method for increasing conference attendance and engagement and removing physical barriers to conference participation. Now, companies are already beginning to explore expanding VR as an alternative to traditional in-person conferences.
Perhaps the most prominent example is HTC, which has reacted to the current situation by hosting the first fully-virtual industry conference. Instead of hosting their HTC Vive Ecosystem Conference (VEC) in Shenzen, China as usual, the conference will be held entirely through virtual reality. The conference will be taking place within ENGAGE, the virtual reality training and education platform developed by Immersive VR Education.
The platform enables educators and companies to host meetings, presentations, classes and events with people across the world. Requiring little training or previous knowledge, the platform makes designing and implementing virtual conferences simple and efficient. Sessions can be hosted live or recorded and saved for others to experience later.
— Michael Zhang (@mgzhangVR) March 19, 2020
For years, webinars and livestreaming have been the solution for event organizers who needed to save funding or avoid the logistical hassles of gathering attendees from all over the world to a central meeting place. With this tech now becoming central to everything from public education to socializing, the trick for event planners is to optimize the way these tools are used to help increase engagement and make them a suitable alternative to the in-person conferences that have now been put on hold.
There are a few easy ways to do this:
People often forget that the event industry goes far beyond individual event planners, and includes all of the vendors that rely on special events as the lifeblood of their particular business. From florists to caterers, venues to travel vendors, the moratorium on events ripples across a number of different professions.
Many of these individuals are starting to find new ways to put their skills to use in very different fashions. Here are just a few highlights:
While philanthropy isn’t the usual goal of event professionals, it is the basis for many of the events that makeup the industry as a whole. As such, it makes sense that event professionals may have some of the best ideas and innovations for helping out communities during these tough times.
Finally, while these digital innovations offer a route forward for some array of events to continue in the future, the reality is that the weeks and months ahead will be a significant challenge for the multi-billion dollar event industry. Fortunately, momentum is already growing among event professionals to begin lobbying governments for support, similar to the pushes from the travel and tourism industries that are being equally affected.
Some event professionals are beginning to petition governments. Others are organizing concentrated lobbying efforts through social media outreach, and helping to gather support for a seat at the table. No matter how long social distancing measures and their impact on the event industry lasts, we anticipate a major surge in events to follow. It’s essential for the event industry to come together and work hand in hand with government and economic organizations to ensure it can get back on its feet when that time comes.