According to a study by Harvard disease researchers, it is thought that social distancing may remain in our everyday lives for as long as until 2022. While, of course, taking every preventative measure possible to stay safe during this uncertain time is of utmost importance, it will mean that planning an event will be somewhat trickier in the months, even years to come. Whether you have had to postpone your wedding day or reschedule a large corporate networking event, there are many alterations you will need to consider to ensure that you follow government guidance. Although no one can be quite sure how the consequences of the pandemic may pan out, there is no reason as to why we cannot begin to make plans for the future. So, to ensure that you can remain occupied and make as much progress as possible with your upcoming event, we have put together some tips on how to prepare for an event during and after the lockdown.
How To Prepare For An Event During & After The Lockdown
Having worked with hundreds of clients in the past providing photo booths in London, along with food entertainment services and our digital graffiti wall, we have helped to overcome a wealth of event hurdles. However, a pandemic is something that no one could have anticipated which means that we have all had to put our plans on hold for the foreseeable future. Particularly when you have had an event planned for many months that you have had to reschedule or even cancel, it can be daunting to tackle the planning process all over again. In some cases, you may be able to compromise and plan a virtual event instead, but for others, there will be no choice other than waiting until the outbreak subsides. With this in mind, we have split our guide into two, one section will be based on tips for planning a virtual event, and the second will be planning events post-lockdown. You can go straight to the section that you are best suited to using the following links:
From conferences and lectures to birthday celebrations, there are a whole host of events which can be hosted virtually. Although it will mean that you have to sacrifice aspects such as a luxurious venue, three-course meals or live entertainment, there is no reason as to why you can not continue to enjoy your event from the comfort of your home. A virtual event will undoubtedly be more straightforward to plan; however, there will be some alterations you will need to make to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Here is what to consider when planning a virtual event for the first time.
Choosing A Platform
First and foremost, you must spend time researching and determining which platform would be best suited to your requirements. The platform that you opt for will be based on the event type that you are planning, whether it may be corporate or a get-together with loved ones. Some of the most popular live-streaming platforms include:
- Zoom – Zoom, by far, has remained one of the most widely used platforms during the pandemic, allowing you to schedule one-on-one meetings, along with group conferences. If you opt for using the free version, then you will be limited to 40 minutes per call, meaning that it is better suited to quick family catch-ups, short lectures or business meetings. Should you need anything longer, the starting price for a subscription is £11.99 a month.
- Skype – Skype offers two versions of their platform, one for personal use and another one business use, making it a versatile option. The main difference between the two is the number of participants that can join as Skype alone allows only 25 per meeting, whereas the business alternative can cater for up to 250. You can also use Skype for many hours at a time without any restrictions.
- Live Streaming – If you are a brand planning a public event that anyone can join such as a product launch, Q&A or quiz, then live streaming on your social media channels may be the best route. This means that there will be no need to invite people as you can simply promote the event on your channels. Take a look at Wishpond for some examples of brands who have mastered live streams.
- Demio – For those who are planning a conference or webinar, for example, universities, Demio would be ideal. The platform allows you to carry out not only live meetings but also upload pre-recorded seminars. There will be no need to download any apps as Demio can be accessed through your web browser.
You can find more platform ideas to run your virtual event on Source Forge.
Creating A Schedule
Once you have decided on which platform would be best for your virtual event, you can then begin shortlisting what you would like your event to include. Again, this will differ based on your event type as those with friends and family will inevitably be more relaxed. Corporate events, on the other hand, must have a clear agenda to ensure that it becomes worthwhile for participants to take time out to attend, as well as ensuring that your objectives are met.
If you are planning a corporate seminar or conference, then you should put together the topics that will be covered and send this to attendees a few days before the event. Particularly if it will be a longer event with different segments, people may only want to join for a particular lecture as opposed to sitting through all of them. In this instance, don’t forget to factor in breaks just as you would do so when running a face-to-face event at a venue.
For those planning a call with their loved ones, why not put together a fun schedule to make the most out of the time that you can virtually spend together? There will be thousands of people missing out on their birthday celebrations, baby showers and weddings this year, so planning something extra special for them would most definitely be appreciated. There are a whole host of games that you can play over a video call, whether it may be quizzes or charades. Take a look at App Pearl for more ideas!
Picking A Time & Date
Determining a time and date of an event is always a tedious task, but you’ll be pleased to know that this is made easier when hosting virtually. There will be no need to factor in travelling times or venue opening hours as people can tune in from home. However, when planning a corporate event, it is vital to consider where geographically your attendees will be calling in from. If you have people from different countries joining, then you must track down a time that works for everyone involved. The most effective way to solve this is to ask your audience to suggest times and dates that would best suit their schedule and opt for the majority vote.
Video calls with your friends and family will most definitely be more straightforward to plan. We would suggest sticking to evenings and weekends when working from home and homeschooling is out of the way. It also means that if your catch up runs over, it will not be a problem!
Promoting The Event
For businesses planning a virtual event, promotion is vital in ensuring that your efforts are rewarded. Unfortunately, you will be limited in terms of promotional materials which means that your marketing activities will mainly be restricted to social media. While limitations may, at first, appear frustrating, it can work towards your advantage as all of your focus will be based on one strategy, allowing you plenty of time to make it perfect.
Before beginning your advertising, spend time shortlisting your key selling points as this will be what you will use to draw attention. For example, if your virtual product launch will involve a giveaway competition, make this clear. The same goes if you have hired a well-known speaker or influencer who will be running a Q&A. You need to show that your event has value and that attendees can benefit from tuning in. Social Tables has put together a super helpful article featuring 12 top tips for marketing a virtual event.
Preparing For Tech Troubles
Just like when planning any event, you must always stay one step ahead of the game in the event of an obstacle. Be aware that you may experience tech troubles during your virtual event, but this isn’t something to panic about. Before beginning your event, double-check that everyone who will be involved in the hosting of your event has a strong internet connection. You could perhaps even run a rehearsal to ensure that everyone involved is fully prepared.
Don’t forget to also keep in mind that not all of your virtual attendees will be used to using these new platforms, which means that they may ask questions. For large-scale or global events, we would suggest putting together some FAQs on how to solve comment tech-related problems so that your guests have additional support.
Unfortunately, there are several events which cannot be substituted with a virtual alternative, which means that they will have to be postponed or cancelled. If you have opted for postponing your event until life returns to normal and restrictions have been lifted, then you may be feeling in limbo about what your next steps may be. While we cannot give you an exact date as to when you will be able to reschedule your event for, we can help you with what you can do in the meantime!
Communicating With Others
Communication is key at all stages of event planning, but even more so when we are unable to meet face-to-face. The moment that lockdown ends and companies are free to restart operations, it will be harder than ever to stay in contact and business will be super busy trying to catch up. This means that, if possible, you should try and remain in contact with any vendors during the quarantine period. Each time that the government announces an update regarding the next stages of lockdown, consider emailing your vendors to ask what their plans are. While the majority are likely to remain closed, it does mean than you can be kept in the loop with regards to when they will reopen.
Along with communicating with vendors, you must also make your plans clear with your guests or attendees. Particularly if they have purchased tickets for your event, guests will want to know whether they will be issued a refund or whether their tickets will be valid for entry on the rescheduled date. Be sure to make decisions quickly and send out emails with clear instructions.
Scheduling Virtual Meetings
Although your event may not be going ahead for a fair few months, there is no reason as to why you cannot meet with your team virtually to discuss ideas. While it may feel like a waiting game, more time to plan your event could be a blessing in disguise as it will give you the chance to be more creative and think outside of the box.
Along with scheduling a meeting to discuss the next stages based on government updates, why not arrange brainstorming discussions? Here you can not only catch-up with your planning committee as you would do so in the office, but it also gives everyone something productive to keep them occupied while at home. Each member can run through their ideas for the event and then at the end of the meeting, everyone will be delegated a task to work on until the next catch-up.
Implementing Safety Measures
It is imperative to keep in mind that even when it is safe to reschedule your event, there is likely to still be social distancing measures in place. At the moment, although we are unsure of what this will entail, we do know that safety measures will need to be maximised to protect your attendees. Life as we know it will be dramatically different, which means that you will need to be prepared for your event to run differently from what it has done in the past. For instance, walkways may have to be increased to 12-foot aisles and guests may have to sit 6 feet away from one another. There may also be restrictions on the catering that you will be able to offer, along with the use of public spaces. Due to this, it is crucial to ensure that you remain updated with any social distancing measures that the government implements, even when lockdown comes to an end.
Budgeting The Event
Budgeting is a pivotal aspect of any event, but even more so when there is so much uncertainty regarding the future. This means that, for the meantime, it will be harder to budget because it is likely that an event after the coronavirus will be more expensive to plan and execute – by how much is something that is yet to be determined. The economy will be impacted, which means that your predicted prices may rise and many aspects of your current budgeting plan will no longer apply. It may be easier to put budgeting to one side until you can get a better idea on costs and instead, focus on brainstorming ideas.
Event Planning From A Distance
Events will undoubtedly feel the most significant impact from the coronavirus, which means that many planners, businesses and individuals are feeling the full effect of this uncertain period. For the time being, the most important focus is that you and your guests remain safe through following government guidelines. Whether you opt for switching to a virtual event or rescheduling, protection from the virus should always stay at the forefront of your decisions.
We hope that we have been able to give you some guidance on what to do over the next few weeks and for the upcoming months until life returns to normal. Just like all other businesses, we cannot wait to get back to joining you all at your events, whether this may be through our wedding photo booth hire, corporate event services and many more!