International Fire Buyer discusses how events that have had to postpone due to COVID-19 can provide a virtual presence in the market in the lead up to their show in 2021
Along with event creators all over the world, International Fire Buyer have been watching the COVID-19 pandemic as it evolves. We recognise how stressful this particular situation is for all industries, especially the events business. Even with postponements and cancellations happening, the topic discussions, networking and demonstration abilities that happen with events are a necessity for the industry and must continue, whether this is virtual or postponed. We recognise the challenges that the event community is facing during a time when our industry is being deeply affected, therefore wish to show some recognition for the international events that would have been taking place or reviewed during this issue.
The global coronavirus pandemic is having a huge impact on the live events industry. This disruption is something that many event creators worldwide are currently navigating.
Instead of cancelling an event, more and more organisers are deciding to postpone instead. Not only will making this decision help you stay on course, it’ll ensure you have time to evaluate and plan an even better experience in the near future. Here are a few simple pointers for postponing an event while managing expectations, as well as keeping your guests informed and engaged.
Online events or webinars
During this pandemic the world has witnessed a digital shift. Companies are creating remote working plans, the fire industry is developing safety procedures for training and other activities, and technology is thriving with live streams, virtual events, demonstration videos and more.
As anyone in the event industry knows, no amount of planning can predict the weather, a venue or exhibitor cancellation, or – as we’re currently dealing with – a global pandemic. When unexpected setbacks derail your event, a contingency plan will help you decide your next move. But what if you don’t have one?
The bottom line is, despite your expertise and experience, adaptability is still the most beneficial skill you need as an event professional. And with a variety of digital formatting options available, you can more seamlessly pivot to meet any given challenge. This is evident with companies embracing technology and providing support for their customers as acknowledged in this issue from market leading companies such as LUKAS Hydraulik, or international events organisers such as Hannover Fairs Autralia.
Some call it a livestream, others call it a webinar or virtual summit. All that matters is that your attendees’ expectations are satisfied – or, better yet, exceeded. As well as giving you the ability to salvage your event in the face of changing circumstances, there are other benefits to using an online format. You can:
- Open up your event to more people.
- Save on costs like travel, vendors and venues.
- Leverage social tools and chats to keep the conversation going.
Elodie Gerard, Marketing Director at Hannover Fairs Australia exclusively talks to
International Fire Buyer about the 2020 struggles and what the company has been doing in
the meantime before AFAC Conference. “Despite the challenges COVID-19 has thrown at our industry, necessitating postponement and adaptations of 2020 events, at Hannover Fairs we have been busy. We have offered free webinars and developed a number of virtual events hosted on innovative new, interactive platforms. We have also taken the time to connect with our communities on a personal level to get an understanding of how the pandemic has impacted their lives and the content that they will find valuable going forward. During this time, the AFAC committee has taken the opportunity to start preparations for the 2021 conference, which is set to showcase the leading edge of emergency service knowledge and practice in the region”.
What works offline in the real world might not in the virtual, but that doesn’t mean your online workshop, class, or seminar has to suffer – providing a quality experience is possible in any format.
A livestream or webinar is perfect for the digital experience because it broadens the scope of your event beyond physical boundaries. It also makes online guests feel like they are part of the live action. By contrast, a workshop that requires attendees to use physical materials they don’t own wouldn’t work, however this can be adapted to live demonstrations of the latest equipment. This can enable customers to get a feel for a product and further information despite not being able to test it themselves. Events that are based around discussion and thought leadership, like a forum, could add similar value in an online format.
And if you’re worried about losing the benefits of networking, don’t. By encouraging guests to engage in the comments and chat section, you can provide a space for people to interact, share their thoughts and discuss the event, in real time.
Part of feeling like you’re at an event is having a seamless audio and visual experience. Here are a few things to check to make sure your audience remains engaged.
- Test your video and audio before your event: This way, you’ll be able to fix any issues before they impact your guest experience.
- Use a good-quality camera and headset: The camera on your computer will get the job done, but it’s important to remember your audience. People attend live events and gatherings for the rich, immersive experiences they offer. So invest in a quality camera and microphone to ensure your presence on their screens is sharp and clear.
- Make sure your connection is solid: It’s far from ideal if patchy WiFi means your live discussion cuts out every three minutes.