Event Planning Amid COVID-19: The New Normal
Our lives in the new age of everything Coronavirus seems to be changing, evolving, and halting all on a day to day, sometimes hour to hour basis. As an event planner, with thoughts previously focused on meetings and gatherings weeks, sometimes months, in advance now up in the air, these are challenging times. How can we plan for the unknown? How can we continue to provide the platform for people to network and assemble when we don’t know the next time we will be physically able to do so? How has the content of these meetings changed from business as usual? What is the new normal?
The new normal is anything but planned. Seasoned event and meeting planners may know a lot about running an event on time, working with budgets and maintaining relationships with vendors but ultimately, one of the best tools in the arsenal, is knowing that no matter how much you plan; prepare for the unexpected. This has never been truer. Many events quickly have had to be cancelled or postponed and communication with attendees, sponsors and vendors is paramount. Maintaining communications with these players will help to ensure return attendance and recouped revenue once the event is rescheduled. Being flexible with what comes next and the new process of planning is vital.
The new normal for events looks vastly different than those on the books just a week ago. No catering costs, venue rental or parking instructions needed. The new normal is a dining room table turned office, laptop, and Wi-Fi connection allowing for social distancing to remain but the sharing of content to continue. With Zoom calls, WebEx forums, Facebook and Instagram Live stories, and Google Hangouts quickly becoming the routine we have all had to pivot in our everyday interactions and events are no different. If not already, planners have become masters of this technology and these platforms have allowed us to convene groups for meaningful interactions. We must embrace this technology as it may even allow us to reach an audience that a more mainstream event would not have.
The new normal is new information. It has all of us learning about a virus we hadn’t even heard of only two months ago, becoming experts in crisis management, and for some how to juggle daily work at home life with teach at home life. Content for events has changed. Meetings are no longer focused on exchanging business cards but rather what are the latest small business resources for them to survive, what are ways you can help healthcare workers, and what’s the latest on proper handwashing techniques. With 24-hour content coming from news outlets and social media, events must also be focused on these timely topics and if you haven’t it will come across as tone deaf and ingenuine.
Events, like everything in life these days are evolving and updating rapidly. Making these changes with grace and patience will help make these uncertain times feel a little easier.
So, what is the new normal?
We’re all figuring it out together, but it looks nothing like normal.