Events Industry: Rising To The Challenges Of Covid-19

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Splento has spent time recently talking to experts and event organisers about their experiences in the current circumstances.

We found that we can divide them into 3 broad groups:

  • Those who are struggling and have postponed all events until further notice.
  • Those who are struggling and are trying to minimise their losses by continuing only with events they deem essential.
  • Those who are embracing the online world and scheduling their events digitally.

 

All three groups face different challenges and require different solutions.

Sadly, for some, they have had to lay off employees to stay afloat and for these, there are no immediate solutions.

For everyone else, there are still four main challenges to be faced:

The current top 4 challenges & solutions for the event industry

1. Postponing/cancelling events.

Some event organisers feel that they have had no choice but to cancel their event, or at best, postpone until an unknown time.

They don’t feel, (or are unaware) that online solutions exist that would allow them to continue with their events with a little modification.

For a few, this is understandable. Some organisers hold events in order to attract clients who will network with one another, and those organisers hugely value the privacy of both their content and their contact base.

For the majority, however, there is a diverse range of technology to allow them to adapt to continuing online. There are many platforms and packages available that allow them to hold online conferences, meetings, lectures, demonstrations, and these all have features such as screen sharing, breakout rooms and much more.

For example, some have discovered the likes of Zoom or Microsoft 365, as well as novel solutions which allow them to use multiple Zoom accounts to host a large conference with a more controlled audience (check Restream.io or YellowDuck instagram streaming services).

Even if, just a few months ago, you felt people were uncomfortable with this type of communication – this way of connecting with communities – you will pleasantly surprised to find that today a vast majority of your customer base is quite adept and very comfortable using these technologies. The past few weeks have shown, once again, that when it’s needed, people are very adaptable and very willing to accommodate change.

So, before you decide to cancel your next event, explore with your customers the possibility of adapting it to online and ask them what they think about it. We’re pretty sure most will be keen to give it a go.

For more great ideas on how to leverage modern communication technology, check out this blog post to learn how you can build trust with your audience during these tough times…

2. Lower conversion rates from online events.

Except for universities, who have actually seen an increased number of students attending online events (compared with offline), most other industries have experienced lower conversion rates.

This can be caused by two different reasons:

  • Fewer registered users attend the event.
  • Fewer attendees convert into customers.

 

To increase attendance, there are a few possible solutions:

First, increasing outreach is the obvious option. Invite more participants to an event and you will get higher numbers, even if your conversion remains the same. 

But in addition, you could also increase the types of customers you are inviting to your event. Right now, people are attending all sorts of events online that they would never normally consider attending in ‘real-life’. To divert themselves from current circumstances, they are signing up to online craft sessions, learning a new language or new skills, taking on work-related training they have avoided for years, etc…

In other words, the people you have been reaching out to in the past have changed. They are far more open to ideas, stimulus, and new experience. So, capitalise on this by fishing in a different pond – you’ll be surprised with the attention you will catch and from the sectors it will come from. You will find a group of people outside your existing demographic who suddenly are now viable customers.

Finally, adapt your content. Just as customers have learned to adapt to online living and new experience, so too must you. This may mean just a few tweaks, or it may mean redesigning your whole event from the ground up – but don’t be afraid to do that either. If you prefer to use videos in your promotion content, check Splento advice on possible new formats to try.

Step back and take a long hard look at your event, presentation and all other content with fresh eyes. It just may be the right time for an overhaul and doing so will open you up to new markets.

To increase conversions will probably also require change:

First, consider trying a freemium model, rather than expecting attendees to convert right away. There are several options that can be made to work, and all are worth exploring.

Repackage or rebrand your existing product. This works wonders for almost any product, tangible or otherwise. Is there a way you can provide your existing face-to-face service online?

Thirdly, as an alternative to freemium, can you adapt your product and create a ‘lite’ version at a lower price point?

Finally – can you expand your range? Look at the tools you have at hand and ask whether they can be utilised for something completely new. Gin distilleries up and down the UK have converted themselves into hand-sanitiser manufacturers. Clothing brands are making face masks.

Whatever there is a demand for – can you adapt your current resources to meet it?

These may have been solutions that 3 months ago you would have shied away from, but if the outcome of any of these is some business, then it is a better option than zero business.

3. Difficulties with Zoom and alternatives.

Zoom and all video conferencing tools have advantages and disadvantages. The main ones are summarised below:

  • Challenges with sharing the screen and presentation slides simultaneously. Switching between screens wastes time and distracts the speaker.
  • Participant management – from manually letting participants in, to individual audio/mute controls. Visual control can be a nightmare – you have no control over participant webcam view or the sharing of inappropriate material.
  • Participants tend to ask long questions in online meetings.
  • Personal communication – it can be difficult to find someone in common to chat with and message them personally.
  • Invitations still need to be sent out manually – there is no integration to automate this.

 

Most of the above will be much improved with tech solutions, as opposed to manual management, and at Splento we are currently exploring ways to overcome these as soon as we can.

We are also looking towards developing systems which smooth the pathway of moving from physical to online events and will be happy to keep you informed of our achievements with any of these as they become available – contact us directly for details.

4. (Temporary) struggle to find venues that can guarantee dates.

Many venues are uncertain about when they will be able to re-open again and so they cannot guarantee any bookings right now. 

For physical events that cannot adapt to or translate online, this is perhaps the biggest challenge. But there are countries that are not restricted and others that are even now coming back ‘online’.

Is it possible you can shift your event to another location? Clearly, at this time, travel for most is not possible, but by planning an event in another country for the future, you can perhaps be more assured of the booking and also open yourself up to a new market.

However, we do recognise that there is no easy solution to this problem – and in the end, it may just come back to being as adaptable as you can be with some of the other options discussed above. Without a crystal ball, it will always be difficult to speculate.

…and finally our last piece of advice:

Over-communicate with your customers!

At a time like this, the best thing you can be doing is speaking with your customers about their challenges and struggles.

Many great businesses were built in response to a challenge. This is an opportunity to find out how you can be most useful to your customers and audience; you will find that now, more than ever before, customers are willing to speak and air their frustrations.

They have more time on their hands, they have more opinions and if you give them more opportunity to speak, not only will they feel more valued as your customer, they will also give you more opportunities to provide them with solutions to their problems.

And that is always a good place to be.

If you are having any problems with online communications (or any other visual content issues) within your organisation, get in touch with Splento today.

We’ll be happy to chat, and if we can, help.