In the last four weeks, I have traveled to two events. Some non-event people thought I was crazy to do so, given the ‘risks’. Notwithstanding the caution that I’ve expressed in some past newsletters, my recent actions reflect how much I want face-to-face events to return – and to do so as soon as possible.
Being out of the office has given me the opportunity to observe and ruminate about what prompted my attendance at these two events, despite the “fear porn” about going to events before the end of 2021 that’s been widely circulated. Beyond the inherent ROI of attendance, as well as the value in networking and content, what got me to go? What are the other basic requirements that are a prerequisite for our attendees and sponsors to be able to return to our events?
The answers are Safety and Certainty.
Huh? What does that mean? Simply put, if an organizer is hosting an event, given all that’s happening in today’s world we would like to think that the organizer has our best interests at heart. That means acknowledging the risks of travel and the possibility that we might be engaged with people at an event who could infect us.
In terms of Safety, has the organizer identified all the COVID (and other) risks and done everything to mitigate those risks in a manner that is reasonable in terms of the impact on exhibitors and attendees? Have they communicated those actions as a marketing message that is grounded in facts that are positive, real, and not alarmist?
With respect to Certainty, has the event organizer demonstrated their confidence in running the show and that it’s in the best interests for the attendees and exhibitors to attend? Is that confidence evident in a real, grounded – even transparent – advocacy for the event or are they hiding behind opacity that ignores reduced attendee and exhibitor numbers? Are they truthful with their messages? Are they confident in their messaging?
If you planning to run a face-to-face event before the end of the year, it’s critical that you both develop strategies that focus on these key elements and make sure that your current and potential customers know about them, too. We’ve got to get back to work, let’s make it easier for our customers to do it too.