Event promoters have seen their livelihoods and their standards of doing business utterly and quite possibly permanently transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of live events have been canceled through the end of June and beyond that, there is skepticism as to when the industry might see a notable boost in activity.
Some business events professionals suggest that September may be a reasonable target, though Lulu Promotions founder and owner Ismail Sirdah cautions that the drought could last into Q4 or even early into 2021.
In the meantime, he recommends that event promoters take this opportunity to reinvent themselves and upgrade their digital event skills, which he believes will increasingly separate the outstanding events promoters from the merely great ones.
Some of the core concepts and tenets of event promotion will continue to be hugely important in the future. However, Ismail Sirdah says it will be those promoters who can best adapt to whatever our new normal becomes and structure their events accordingly that will flourish, while those who try to cling to the old ways of doing things may struggle to remain relevant.
The global pandemic has created several new concerns that event planners will need to pay greater attention to going forward. Safety issues are obviously paramount, which will require planners to design event spaces that will have good traffic flow and keep attendees from bunching up while still allowing for opportunities to socialize and share information.
As with retailers and other public-facing businesses, event promoters will likewise have to protect themselves from potential liability claims that could seek damages in compensation for coronavirus exposure.
One option could be to have attendees sign waivers that absolve the event or its organizers from damages. Such waivers are generally upheld by courts and they are already being put into wide use by many companies during the pandemic, mostly in relation to their employees.
Ismail Sirdah says that event promoters are also paying a lot more attention to the details of their cancelation policies given the greater uncertainty surrounding the status of future events. Even once such events are given the green light, they are all but a local coronavirus flare up away from possibly being canceled just like that. Similarly, prospective attendees will be at greater risk of dropping out of the event should they get the virus themselves or been exposed to it.
Ismail Sirdah adds that marketing efforts for future events will also undergo substantial changes and that those who strike the right tone with their branding will be rewarded with more eager attendees.
Whereas promotional images of packed convention floors from previous events were a great marketing tool in the past, they are more likely to be detrimental now. Instead, images should focus on the more intimate moments of the event, such as the innovative products on display or the eloquent speakers that will be giving talks.
The Future of Events
Promotional material or advertisements will likewise need to find a sweet spot wherein they provide just enough safety information to put attendees’ minds at ease while keeping the focus on the event itself. Providing too much precautionary information about COVID-19 at the expense of selling the actual event will do nothing but convince more people to stay in the safe confines of their home.