What’s Your Main Task Before Relaunching Your Face-to-Face Event? 2

Simply knowing that your audience will show up. To ensure that, you’ll need to have checked off all the following:

1) Do people feel safe enough to attend your event? Are they confident in your safety protocols?

2) Do people feel safe enough to travel to your event, given potential travel and lodging challenges?

3) Will corporate travel restrictions prevent too many attendees from attending, regardless of their individual interest in participating? Are corporations afraid of their employees suing them for sending them to events where they get sick?

4) Will the possibility of quarantine restrictions – when attendees return home – prevent enough from coming?

5) Will an in-person event still be relevant to its audience, given alternative (perhaps more “COVID-friendly”) options for engaging with colleagues in the industry? Does my event offer unique access to the “right people” otherwise not available?

6) Have you surveyed prospective attendees and developed confidence that enough have interest in returning, given the above considerations?

7) Have you calculated the minimum number of attendees needed for you to break even financially?

8) Have you calculated the minimum number of attendees needed to retain/sign up exhibitors?

9) Will your venue be able to host the number of attendees you mist have to both break even and satisfy your exhibitors given COVID-19 meeting requirements?

The goal of the above – possibly daunting – list is not to depress you, but rather to equip you to make an informed decision. Since March, all of us in the industry have considered attending events and likely have made calculations to inform our individual decisions about whether to attend.

Ask yourself when YOU are interested in attending an event in the future:

1) Do I feel safe to attend the event given what I understand to be the safety protocols?

2) Do I feel safe to travel to the event (airport, flight, cab, hotel, etc.)?

3) Am I restrained by corporate travel restrictions?

4) Will the fact that I might have to quarantine when I get home stop me from going?

5) Is the event still relevant given all my COVID-19 options (instead of virtual events, other ways with engaging with other people in the industry etc.)? Will the ‘right’ people be there?

At some point in time, the answers to these questions will be sufficiently positive to support the return of the events that have not been eliminated altogether. But we are not at the mercy of the conditions in the world around us.

I’d like to see more press about how the value we offer to our customers is driving decisions to move forward with face to face events, with less attention paid to the virus-centric logistical barriers, important as those are. These safety standards are a pre-requisite and we ‘get’ it.

In the end, the needs – and concerns – of our customers will drive decisions. After all, without an audience, there is no event.

Here is the latest PCMA COVID-19 Recovery Dashboard Findings: https://www.pcma.org/business-events-recovery-dashboard-uncertainty-pandemic

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2 thoughts on “What’s Your Main Task Before Relaunching Your Face-to-Face Event?

  • Robert James

    Sound advice. The decision to re-open F2F events should be driven by “the value we offer to our customers”—not by the placement of chairs, tables, and handwashing stations.

    My take: the event industry’s focus on removing “virus-centered logistical barriers” reflects nothing other than its core talent: logistics. Organizers aren’t called “organizers” for nothing.

    When the business value of any B2B event can be digitally replicated, the F2F version will seem to customers like taxicabs do to Uber users: quaint, malodorous vestiges that cost too much.

    Were the event industry capable of focusing on the right stuff, it would long ago have taken to heart Peter Drucker’s definition of business:

    “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two—and only two—basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs.”

    Right now, organizers should be concentrating all their efforts on structural, not logistical, adjustments,

    I’m not sure they can.

    • Warwick Davies Post author

      Bob appreciate the comment. I think organizers are probably much more capable thank you think- this is really the first existential crisis they’ve faced other than 9/11 perhaps. There are enough smart people in this industry, and now is the time for them to sharpen their pencils to find new business models…