How to grow your business in the Event Industry during the times of COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic has been the death sentence for many industries around the world. Travel & tourism, hospitality & lodging, accommodation & boarding, financial management, and of course, the event industry are all examples of sectors of the economy affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

The Event industry, in particular, witnessed mass event cancellations & postponements leading to a massive strandedness & stalling of the entire industry operations.

Despite the challenges & the unmistakable gloom, however, the event industry managed to not only remain afloat for the entire time but also figure out new ways to stay relevant to the current times.

The result of this constant innovation & drive to succeed came in the form of success stories ranging from uber-hit virtual events, the utter popularity of Hybrid Events, & the increased attendee satisfaction that came from virtual/hybrid events.

Most event companies took the challenge head-on & made waves with their exceptional handling of the unprecedented setback.

By studying just what the successful event agencies did, you can also make your very own guidebook to growing your event business during these tough times.

Here is a short & sweet version of how exactly you can keep growing your business exponentially even during the current times.

Step 1: Assess your event strategy

This is the first step you should be taking while still figuring out how to circumvent the impact of the pandemic on your business.

Consider exactly how much of your business depends on events, & the exact types of events in your business marketing plan.

If you discover that your business hinges majorly on physical, live events, consider switching to virtual forms of events & technology, both in the immediate time frame & as a long-term strategy.

For your event agency to ultimately be successful & grow in this era, a major chunk of your revenue must come from virtual events.

With the restriction on physical gatherings of people, it’s unlikely that full-swing physical, live events will happen anytime soon.

Hence, to drive in constant profits & stay relevant in the current event landscape, it’s mandatory that a majority of your event business pivots to the virtual.

Step 2: Stay on top of the latest trends & gather knowledge from all over

In the words of Ori Lahav, president of the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO), “We have always been a very strong industry, coming together and working towards solutions for the whole. This crisis made our bond even stronger, with industry associations, suppliers, destinations, venues, conventions bureaus and more, joining forces to overcome the challenge. I believe this will remain an added benefit for the future, creating effective and efficient chains and processes to deliver the best outcomes.”

His words ring true, as the event industry indeed is a tightly knit community, with experts pouring their knowledge & valuable insights all over the place. Curious learners & expert innovators take their share of the drink from this ‘magic fountain of knowledge’ and reap rewarding results.

This information greatly helps the bigwigs & operations heads of event agencies decide on both an immediate & long-term strategy for their event business, by virtue of their adaptability & willingness to learn.

Learning from experts like Lahav, can really help event agencies by putting into perspective their former & current event strategies, & providing valuable information with meaningful discourses & discussions.

Step 3: Mix the new & the old — The Hybrid Model

While it’s true that virtual events are the need of the current times due to strict lockdown measures & restrictions on travel, face-to-face interactions are not going away soon.

According to most event industry experts, including Jennifer Glynn, president of the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE), “Face-to-face interactions allow trust to be built.”

Thus, it’s important to keep in mind that although virtual events are raking in all the popularity now, the appeal of physical events is here to stay.

The best approach towards growing your events business during these times then is to leverage the power of virtual events, along with integrating aspects of a live, physical event in it.

While the former is pretty much a necessity in the current times, the latter part is done to give a sense of nostalgia to event attendees, & make them feel like they’re witnessing a real, live event.

Hybrid Events have been known to take the ROIs of event companies to skyrocket values, & provide massive attendee satisfaction numbers.

Thus, having a Hybrid approach to your events in 2021 & beyond will prove to be a beneficial strategy for your event business, overall.

As Jessie States, the director of MPI Academy for Meeting Professionals International (MPI) puts it, “We don’t see going back to a world of in-person only meetings.”

She also adds that successful hybrid events should run parallel with shared moments for engagement, but should be designed as two separate user experiences.

The choice between the various tools & technologies utilized to create immersive hybrid experiences, she says is best left to the event company’s own discretion.

We discuss creating an immersive experience for your attendees in your virtual events further in this article.

Step 4: Create engaging, immersive Hybrid/Virtual experiences for your attendees

If there’s one drawback to being a tightly knit community, it’s this. What one person does, everyone else gets to watch!

The same effect happened in the event industry as well, with one, then two, then almost all event agencies coming on board with Hybrid & Virtual Events gradually.

The result was an unimaginable number of virtual/hybrid events taking place almost every day, & people beginning to experience what experts termed, ‘Zoom fatigue’.

With the sheer quantity of virtual/hybrid events happening around the world, it became extremely difficult for event agencies to keep their attendees’ attention for long spans of time.

This problem gave way to a multitude of new technologies & tools, primarily to create virtual experiences for attendees that are just as immersive & engaging as their real-world counterparts.

The technologies & tools to accomplish this come in the form of 3D interactive environments, Augmented Reality tools, Virtual Reality techniques, Artificial Intelligence features, & real-time audience-audience & audience-host interaction tools like live chat, networking tables, chat balconies, etc.

Audience engagement & interaction can also come via interactive, fun, & spot-on gaming tools, & collaborative activities like wine-tasting, book-clubs, puzzle-solvers, etc.

As is clear from the above paragraph, the options are infinite, & the sky is truly the limit. All the event agencies have to do then, is pick out the right ones that suit their brand, & embed those in their own Virtual/Hybrid Event environment to give their audience & clients an unforgettable experience.

Recalling events industry expert Jessie States once again, she says, “There are a variety of digital event formats and platforms from webcasts to 3-D immersive worlds, so deciding which one will fulfill an organization’s audience participation & satisfaction goals, is critical.”

We hope this article was able to give you an in-depth understanding of the various aspects of virtual events strategy planning. We also hope you are now better equipped to devise groundbreaking strategies to grow your events business in the current times, & meet your respective goals & KPIs.

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