By Elaine Byrne, project director at international event agency Sledge:
With borders reopening and restrictions easing around the world, there’s no denying that not only are in-person events on the return, but experiences for global audiences are on the rise.
While this is a positive and exciting prospect, we need to change up some of the ways we plan and deliver in-person events, especially when catering to individuals who are travelling from different parts of the world.
Below are some of the key trends I’ve taken away from working on some recent global, in-person experiences.
Plan for shortages, and prepare accordingly
With many people sadly leaving the industry at the height of Covid, talent of all levels can be hard to come by, and this is the same on an international level. Additionally, delivering events in a post pandemic world requires more on-site support. It’s important to plan ahead and assign team members to projects, as well as book freelancers well in advance. Aim for a combination of people in the country you’re based, and local talent on the ground who have in-depth knowledge of the host cities, venues and ever evolving Covid and travel related restrictions at play there.
The shortage element also applies to the availability of the materials we rely on to bring our events to life, as supply chain issues remain. With last-minute changes to events more prevalent than ever, it’s vital to rely on your trusted suppliers – and brief them on any potential needs as far in advance as possible – to ensure you have everything you need to succeed.
Ideate multiple experiences in one
Sentiment around Covid continues to vary among attendees, and this is particularly the case when they are travelling internationally. This means taking the time to understand peoples’ comfort levels and individual preferences (through methods like pre-event surveys) is essential, as it may ultimately determine whether they choose to attend or not.
Leverage these insights to frame the event, which could mean creating a variety of different, yet cohesive experiences. This might be, for example, choosing a venue which has outdoor space, and providing attendees with the option to sit in on sessions across indoor and outdoor environments, while still ensuring they can see and hear the speakers and ask questions. All of this ensures guests feel part of the sessions and have the opportunity to participate in the event.
Ensure attendees feel at ease
In addition to shaping the live experience around their needs, aim to keep any concerns people have about travel or attending in-person at bay, through regular communications.
At the pre-event stage these should include information about the event’s health and safety management plan, and practical measures that have been put in place to mitigate any risk, such as facial recognition registration technology, and the provision of hygiene stations and masks. Also be sure to share details about any pre-event requirements, such as testing policies – and inform how these will vary within different countries or regions.
We know all too well how fast things can evolve, so aim to have pre-prepared plans and comms messaging which can be shared (from email, web and social media, to scripts for event announcements) around changes to travel restrictions and onsite policies.
Event agencies have always added value. We pride ourselves on providing strategic, consultative advice, and this is increasingly key when delivering international events in a post Covid world. It’s our responsibility to ensure our clients, crew, partners and guests feel safe and enjoy the experience so that it stays with them for years to come, by adopting some of these measures.