Back to Business – The ‘new’ normal

For months, journalists and politicians have bombarded news streams with the words “unprecedented,” “unchartered waters” and, dare we say it, “the new normal.” For us, our focus remains on the latter.

Social distancing measures have highlighted now more than ever how important face-to-face meetings are. As humans, we crave physical interaction with other humans and our brains thrive from being around people similar to us.

As lockdown restrictions ease, the challenge will be finding a balance that serves our fundamental human need for connection while also being mindful of our new reality.

The next couple of months will dramatically shape the future of the industry. For now, we’ve been working hard behind the scenes to detangle what the new normal could look like. Ready to dive in?

Back to business
As sure as day follows night, we’re beginning to see venues across Europe and other parts of the world announce that events – all being well, of course – will begin to take place from September onwards. While the problem of international travel and quarantine time still remains, the future of local and national events looks bright.

However, with budgets tight and attendees still wary of the danger of the virus, meetings and events must offer serious value, benefits and gain to attract people.
There’s no doubt that when exhibitions do return in the UK that event planners and hosts will be under pressure to generate ROI and incredible experiences while ensuring public safety as a priority.

Additional planning will be required. To break this down, we’ve divided into three areas of consideration:

Event logistics –
Signage and wayfinding graphics will have a big part to play in the new, admittedly odd, world. Signposts will encourage people to keep their distance, follow one-way routes and find their way around the venue.

Touch-free doors, face masks, sanitation stations, PPE for workers and transparent barriers where appropriate will all be a thing of the norm.

Rewriting the rules for venue capacity, the social distancing standard allows for 1-meter of physical distance between individuals. Consider this when selecting your venue location. There is no doubt that overcrowded, busy venues will turn off attendees.

To increase engagement and excitement in the absence of contact, we predict that there will be a spike in the use of integrated digital technology. Chatbot’s, AI-driven services and voice-based interactive systems provide a quick, cost-effective way to answer questions, request services and to educate visitors. Show organisers will benefit from efficiency, reduced interaction and the all-important ROI.
We also predict that augmented reality, virtual reality and XR will all have a huge part to play in getting the industry back on its feet.

Pre-registration –
It’s time to up your registration game. Using digital registration methods, staggered arrival times or pre-event badge entry will help to minimise waiting times and queues. Of course, no shaking hands and definitely no hugging! Maybe the new normal isn’t so bad, after all?

Marketing plan –
Whether you’re a seasoned marketer or new to the game, your PR and communications strategy needs to be stronger than ever before.

Ahead of the event, your message needs to be honest, open and transparent. Be sure to let your audience know your plan on sanitation measures, but don’t lead with it. Instead, excite your audience with reasons to visit.

With no sign of international travel restrictions being lifted (yet), social media will be your best friend. Show your event to the globe, capitalise on the social noise with hashtags and increase online content to wow your audience. This will serve as a great marketing tool for next years’ event as well.

Although it feels like the phrase “the new normal” is batted about without substance, it’s a very real reality that we’re facing and it’s down to us as industry experts to shape a safe, but exciting future for physical events.

We’re super optimistic and positive that moving forward, we can slowly but surely get back to doing what we do best!
While we patiently wait for the return of face-to-face events, check out our blog on virtual events to see how you can keep your audience engaged online!