Category: Blog

Coronavirus – How to Manage Your Delegate Expectations

 

Coronavirus - How to Manage Your Delegate Expectations

The coronavirus has severely impacted event planners across the globe in a number of ways. Whilst the crisis continues, your delegates will want to know what you are doing. And it’s critical that you manage their expectations well – now more than ever.

You want to be doing everything you can to protect your delegates. You want to make things easier for them, continue educating them, whilst minimising their disruption and anxiety.  Doing this well can serve you well – it will also help you build trust and loyalty for your events in the long term.

Have a look at what things you need to be thinking about when managing delegate expectations in the three most common scenarios event planners are currently facing: Cancelling or postponing events, going ahead with events (if not in immediate future) and making the move to virtual.  We also share some thoughts on how to communicate with delegates, regardless of the situation.

Read: What event planners need to know about Coronavirus

Cancelling or Postponing Your Event     

In many parts of the world, it is now illegal to hold gatherings of people that exceed a certain number. In the UK, that number is as small as two. Even if there are no legal restrictions on hosting events, you may decide it would be best not to anyway.

Whatever the situation, you need to be clear with your delegates. Have you cancelled your event or has it been postponed to a new date? What do you want delegates to do when they find out? Do you want them to phone your office, do you want them to e-mail, or do they need to complete a form on your website? Whatever you want them to do, be sure that your office is adequately resourced to be able to deal with the questions that delegates will have. You may need to draft in some temporary help.

Cancelling or postponing your event will have an immediate impact on your delegates. They may have booked flights, accommodation and paid for their tickets to attend. And as such, come the issue of refunds.

Do you give delegates a part refund, a full refund or credit for your next event? The actions you take will depend in large part on your ticketing policy. If you are waiting for a decision from your insurance company on whether you will be able to pay refunds, then let your delegates know that is your current position.

Let them know how long it’s likely going to take for a refund or claim to be processed. If you bolster your FAQs page on your event website and direct people to it for the latest updates, make sure you are keeping on top of it. If you don’t, it will soon appear neglected, which is not good.

Use the most effective communication channels to get your messaging out. You may want to use your event app, but it’s unlikely that delegates would have downloaded it anyway because most people only do that just before or at the event. So it’s better to use more obvious channels like email and getting them to check your event website regularly too.

If your event is postponed, it’s essential that you continue to build the excitement to it. Even though your original event date has changed, you can create interest along the way to the new date. It’s more important than ever that you continue to update delegates with the information for the event and keep them engaged.  This article on post-event attendee engagement may be handy for some ideas.

Going Ahead with Your Event      

If your event is still going ahead (say it’s scheduled for later in the year), it’s important that you give peace of mind to delegates that they will be safe. In addition to building the buzz around the event and communicating the usual essential information, it will be super important to show what precautions you will be taking on-site.

Have a think about what a delegate will want to know when they are at your event. If you have networking as an activity, what will you do to make sure that it is safe? Your job is not to increase the stress levels of your delegates, so explain what your networking looks like. When it comes to sitting down for lunch, how will that be organised? Will you cater for small groups of people at separate times? Will you have hand sanitisers close to the stage for delegates and speakers to access? Remember delegates may be touching microphones as they answer questions from the floor.

If you walk through the delegate journey and think of what they are likely to touch and if you have any crowds forming at entrances or registration desks, you can make a plan of how to deal with them. Once you have the plan, publish it and inform your delegates. Provide them with the assurance that you are absolutely looking after their safety.

Related reading: How to avoid long queues at events

There are many ways you can communicate how you will keep delegates safe at your event. For example, through your event website, through personalised emails, through social media, through signage at the event and of course with your event app. This is where an event app can be very useful as you can use push notifications at the event as reminders to delegates of personal hygiene measures that everyone needs to be exercising. It’s easy for people to forget, especially when they see colleagues and friends that they haven’t seen for a while.

Pivoting to a Virtual Event  

Rather than cancelling or postponing your event, you may be able to move it to a virtual format. Is it possible for your event to make that shift? Probably. Let’s take a conference that has speakers and break-out sessions and a bit of networking. You can quiet easily replicate that in a virtual format these days. It just takes some design thinking. The technology is available, there are platforms you can use and specialist advisors who can help.

Related reading: The event planner’s guide to free live-streaming tools on social media

As far as your delegates are concerned, you may need incentives for them to join. There are plenty of things you can offer. For example, maybe your conference has a scaled down agenda which means they save time by attending but still get the invaluable content. Plus, you could arrange for the sessions to qualify for CPD points. Then, you could let them know, that they can still earn their CPD points by attending online sessions (some professionals association members depend on these for their career development). You could also mention networking.  And the carbon footprint impact. Whatever incentives you use, it’s important that your delegates know that your virtual event will help them.

Your messaging will need to let delegates understand how to register, whether they need to pay and which web-link to use to access the livestream. Then they will be able to attend as a remote (virtual) delegate. Be sure to remind them to have their sound turned on, otherwise they will not hear the great content.

You could suggest they close other browser windows, so as not to become distracted, plus it may reduce their connectivity speed. And of course, you will need to make sure they are connected to the internet. Whilst these steps seem basic, the majority of queries that arise are from delegates not being properly set up.

Think about how you can help your delegates make the most of the virtual platforms that you will be using? How can they send in questions or make comments? It pays dividends to hold their hand to get going.  Imagine your delegate has never attended a virtual event before.  Go through the steps, map their journey (as you would for a live event) and then you can create helpful advice for all delegates.

Provide detailed instructions and helpful advice in their information packs when they register. Plus, if you create a short explainer video around getting the most out of the experience that can be very useful. After all, becoming tech frustrated is not the way you want a delegate to experience your virtual event

Related reading: 7 mistakes to avoid when using Facebook Live

Other Important Considerations:

1) Maximise Social Media   

Social media is a great way to market your event. But it’s also a great way to communicate important announcements and updates. With public facing events, social media could be used to inform your delegates of the actions you are taking whilst the coronavirus crisis lasts.

It doesn’t matter whether you are postponing or cancelling, whether you are going ahead with your event or whether you are pivoting your event to being virtual, social media will help.

You will need a strategy otherwise you will waste time and energy. Target the right social media channels that your delegates use and have a simple hashtag for your event. A hashtag that is easy to remember and spell.

2) Speak to Delegates in the Right Way    

What is the right way to talk to your delegates? It’s a tough question, but even in times of crisis, you should be using your usual tone and style. Think of safety briefings on flights. The airline has its own voice and you know how the airline staff will treat you. What’s common to every airline, however, is that they want you to listen to their safety announcement. You could adopt the same approach when you issue your messages to your delegates.

Be clear when making your statements. How clear is your message? How would you react if you received the message? Put yourself in the place of the delegate. If you have any ambiguity in your messaging, you can guarantee that you will confuse your delegates. It’s not something you want especially when you are seeking to offer calm reassurance.

3) Keep Communicating   

It’s essential that you keep communicating with your delegates at any time, but this is heightened especially at the time of a crisis. The timing of when to release information is critical. The crisis is happening and you need to let delegates know what that means for them. If you don’t say anything, delegates will fill the void with their own interpretation of what’s going on – and you don’t want to do that.

Related reading:  How to handle a big crisis at your event

There are some basic principles you should follow, such as being honest, not making things up, providing clear guidelines, keeping to timelines for updates and remaining optimistic but realistic in tone. Your communications can be issued with regular follow up. You can do this easily through your event management system which can manage all your delegate emails, app notifications, updates on your event website(s) and through adjusting registration and supplementary forms to ask important questions that have become relevant.

Whilst you are working through the crisis and having lots of communication with your delegates, do not forget that there will be malicious scammers looking to steal personal data. A crisis can easily hide their activities, so be mindful of protecting personal data and complying with GDPR as well as managing the expectations of delegates and looking after their personal safety.

Keep communicating and be clear. With so much ambiguity coming from the media, governments and other suppliers, your delegates will appreciate your efforts as you demonstrate that you take crisis communications very seriously.

Use the technology, use your network and keep learning. The coronavirus crisis will eventually pass but in the meantime you need to do everything you can to manage your delegates’ expectations regardless of the situation you are in.


If you are an Eventsforce customer whose events have been impacted by COVID-19, please get in touch with your account manager for information on how we can help.

 

How to Use Video Emails for Attendee Engagement

 How to Use Video Emails for Event Marketing

It’s a fact. No other marketing channel can communicate as quickly and successfully as video.  We see it on websites, social media and other online platforms – and it works.  So using video in your event’s email marketing makes a lot of sense if you want to boost engagement, drive brand engagement or simply get people to click through and sign up!

After their hugely popular post on top subject lines for event email campaigns, we decided to once again speak to email marketing automation experts, Moosend, to understand exactly what are the benefits of using video in emails, what kind of tools organisers can use and what forms of video work best to boost engagement with attendees.

What is Video Email Marketing?

Video email marketing is an email marketing strategy that uses, as you might have already guessed, videos. Alternatively, you can also have GIFs (both animated and cinemagraph GIFs), static images with a play button that redirects the recipient to the actual video of the sender’s choice, and of course, HTML5 videos.

The amount of engagement this tactic can bring is crazy. And events are all about interaction and engagement.

As seen in a report by Forrester, a video in your email marketing campaign can help you increase your CTR by 200-300%. Some reports also show that just by including the word ‘video’ in an email subject line can have enough of an impact to increase your open rates! This is the first benefit you need to keep in mind.

Secondly, moving images appeal to a prospect’s curiosity and can satisfy it quicker and easier than simple images. This is why video tutorials, for example, are so popular.

Lastly, videos have the tendency to get shared around pretty quickly, resulting in a brand or company going viral.

So, increased CTR, social shares, going viral and more attention to your marketing emails? Not too shabby, especially when promoting an event, right?

Top Tools for Video Email Marketing

You can go nowhere without knowing what you can use, in order to make video email marketing work for you. Below is a list of tools we’d recommend using:

MoosendYou’ll get the benefit of including a static image with a play button in the email. If one clicks on the image, they get taken to the video. No muss, no fuss, no video code issues that could get your email into the spam folder.

TailoredMailThis platform promises to allow users to embed actual videos in their email campaigns, as well as podcasts and carousel images.

Mailchimp – One of the best-known platforms, Mailchimp uses the static image approach as well. It will get a thumbnail of your video and merge it into the content of your email with an overlay of a play button.

MixMax – With Vidyard by MixMax, you’ll be able to select a video in your camera roll or record and upload a video on the spot, and embed it in your email.

Hyperise – This platform allows you to create hyper-personalised images and embed them in emails. Combine that with the overlay of a play button and there you have it!

Lemlist – One of those platforms that use personalised clickable thumbnails to save you the HTML5 time and hassle. Oh, and it specialises on cold emails, too!

As you can see for yourself, there are not many platforms that can embed actual HTML5 videos in their email campaigns, mainly because this form is not supported by most email clients and you can’t risk to afford your email going to waste.

So, by using the personalised GIF and/or static image with a video button overlay tactic, you’re bound to entice more people, as most email clients support those.

Top Considerations for Your Video Email Campaigns

Let’s look at the first steps you need to take if you want to be sure that video email marketing is definitely what you need, the moment you need it.

1.Who Is Your Target Audience?

Defining your target audience is one of the first things you’ll need to clarify, even before you create a marketing strategy and decide on your marketing collateral.

An appealing message will make all the difference. Not everyone needs to see a testimonial video and even if they do, they don’t need to see the same things.

By knowing your audience you’ll make sure you can create a video email marketing campaign that will resonate with them and the goals you’re trying to achieve.

2.What Are Your Goals?

You need to take a good look at your data and see which segment of your audience would be interested in the message that would serve your goal at that specific point in time. And then work with what you have.

So, let’s assume now that your target audience simply loves videos and you see great results in those video email marketing campaigns. Take some time to review what you did send.

Why did it work? Was it luck or good relevant content?

3.Can You Match the Video to Your Content Strategy?

You’ll need to align your video content with your overall content strategy. The reason behind that lies in your target audience. Just take a look at some not-so-rough numbers:

(Source)

As you see, your tone of voice is one of the most important things for your brand. It makes you memorable, it builds trust and it can make your audience identify with your core values.

Remaining true to your brand’s tone will create a seamless experience and will allow your prospects to share your content around if they feel like it. This will increase the possibility of your video going viral.

Oh, and mind you, your brand’s tone includes brand colors. So, be very careful about that.

Related reading: 3 Important Content Marketing Tips for Event Professionals

4.Aim for a Clean Email List

None of your email marketing efforts will work otherwise. A clean email list is pretty much your best and surest shot at success. Why?  Have a look:

  • Reduced bounce rates. Lower bounce rates mean lower spam rates.
  • Higher deliverability rates. This will get ISPs to trust you. Good reputation gets you everywhere in life and in email marketing.
  • Hitting the inbox every time. Emails that bounce, emails that get no response and those that get delivered to inactive accounts will do you no favours.

A clean email list is your most important tool when it comes to getting your event’s message across and hitting that fantastic ROI.

Top Video Emails for Marketing Events

Okay, so you’ve decided what your brand’s tone should be, you’ve nailed your data, you’ve even set your goals and created your marketing strategy.

Now what?

Well, now you need to find the type of video that would make your audience RSVP easier. What type works best will depend on your event’s campaign and goals.

1.The Pre-Event Video

This kind of video should be a roundup of all the things leading up to your event. What was it that urged you to create it?  What are the needs of your audience that the video addresses?

This type of video in your email marketing campaign will work beautifully for first-timers. People who don’t have a clear image of what your brand is all about will be able to see why you felt the need to create such an event.

If you’re about to host an event for an online school opening, send a “How to start an online school” sort of video that will be able to show bits and pieces of the process.

This video’s aim is to inform with snippets of what’s to come, through brief, fun and engaging explanation.

2. The Behind-The-Scenes Video

In these types of videos, it’s all about showcasing the preparation process behind your event. Perhaps you can include bloopers, too!

This type of video differs from the pre-event video in one key thing: The behind-the-scenes bits can be anything. From the concept or creation of a product or an idea, to introducing one of your employees or one of the key people behind your event.

Your data will be the ones to show you the type of audience this would work best for. Use your event management software to segment your lists according to the data you have on people from registrations or past events.  Look into your website analytics too.

This video aims to inform your prospects about your own actions and brand as an event organizer and it would be, much like the pre-event video, perfect for first-timers as well as fly-bys.

3. The Former-Event-Video

A video that features snippets of former events that took place, along with the coverage of the press for the event(s) mentioned, could be one of the best means to advertise your brand and how it works.

If you’re targeting new attendees or would like to engage one-timers to become returning delegates, this sort of round-up video email marketing campaign is for you.

A former event video can showcase the end result and, combined with social proof, will definitely keep those you want to nudge gently (further) down the sales funnel, on their toes.

It will be a great way to showcase what your actions are and the quality of the events you can plan.Also, the former event video in your video email campaign can serve as an explainer video and a gentle reminder of the quality of your services.

4. The Testimonial Video

This is one of the most useful. Testimonials of attendees from previous events are the best way to use social proof to your advantage.

These types of videos can be used to engage those that have never attended and those that are not sure if they’d like to come to another one of your events.  If you combine that with influencer marketing, then you’ve got a certain win.

Check, for example, how selling on Instagram works. Influencers are constantly promoting products, services or events through videos.  Imagine how much engagement brownie points you could get from collaborating with an influencer on a testimonial video!

Related reading: How to Choose the Right Influencers for Your Event Marketing Activities

The Event Follow-Up Video

The event follow-up video will serve as a thank-you to all attendees. It will also keep them posted about future events. This particular video email campaign would be what would showcase the value of your event, after everything’s been said and done.

So, let’s assume that you’ve organised a fundraiser. By sending out an event follow-up, you can thank attendees for participating and inform them of how much money was raised. It’s important that you make clear that none of that would have happened, had it not been for them.

This format works best for those that actually attended your event. You need to thank them first. And, perhaps, urge them to share your message around.

Conclusion

Of course, video email marketing in and of itself is not the only tool that can help your efforts.  A pre-event video can be paired wonderfully with a landing page that will be optimised according to the advice of your trusted SEO services, especially for that lead-gen and sales aspect.

An online form that features a small snippet of what’s included in your video email campaign would be perfect for those lead-gen opportunities.

And our last-but never least-honourable mention should go to content that is shareable. Urge your prospects to share your email that features the video you’re trying to promote. Nothing is a better new lead magnet than shareable content and turning your prospects or attendants to brand ambassadors.


Want to keep up with event tech? Why not sign up to our weekly EventTech Talk newsletter for tips, analysis and research reports on all the latest technology and marketing trends shaping the events industry,

What Event Planners Need to Know About Coronavirus

What Event Planners Need to Know About COVID-19

It is a fact now. COVID-19 – the new coronavirus – is having a drastic impact on our industry globally.  In fact, 49% of event planners have said the virus has already had an impact on their events – according to a poll from Eventsforce this week.

With so many articles churning out by the minute across industry sites, blogs and news outlets, we’ve put together this post to help you separate fact from fiction and give you some guidance on what key things you need to think about when managing events in these uncertain times.

By no means is it an exhaustive list(that would be impossible, given how quickly the situation’s changing and the scope and variety of events being produced). Rather, it is intended to provoke your thinking. Some questions are posed for you to consider, with links to resources and articles that demonstrate approaches and advice that you may want to use.

It’s worth noting that there are different views on the impact of the virus and how serious it is. Experts also differ in their views. What you can do, is to be as clear as possible on what the virus means to you and your events.

Let’s start by taking a look at information from the World Health Organisation (WHO) as they outline what the COVID -19 is and how it is transmitted.

Related article: Coronavirus – How to manage delegate expectations

What is Coronavirus?

COVID -19 is a new infectious disease caused by a new Coronavirus introduced to humans for the first time. It is spread from person to person mainly through the droplets produced when an infected person speaks, coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. However, they are too heavy to travel far in the air and only travel approximately one metre and quickly settle on surfaces.  This is the reason person to person spread is happening mainly between close contacts.

The exact time that the virus can last on surfaces is not yet known. So it is wise to clean surfaces regularly particularly in the vicinity of people infected with COVID 19.

Hands touch many surfaces, which can be contaminated with the virus.  You should therefore avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, as contaminated hands can transfer the virus from the surface to yourself.

When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with the bend of your elbow or use a disposable tissue. If a tissue is used, discard it immediately into a closed bin.

The most effective way to prevent the spread of the new Coronavirus is to wash your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water. This will eliminate the virus if it is on your hands.

How is Coronavirus Impacting Events?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) also recently published a 9-page document that offers both general and corona-virus specific considerations for organisers hosting large events.  It’s worth going through if you haven’t already. As an event planner, you will already be familiar with many of the document’s recommendations — to be in contact with both local and national public health authorities, for example, and to communicate preventative measures to attendees, including respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene.

But other recommendations, as explained in this post from PCMA, expand on standard advice for making risk assessments, including the recommendations that event planners consider the crowd density; the nature of contact between participants, including the layout of meeting venues; whether participants are registered or non-registered, and therefore easy to locate after the event concludes if necessary for public health reasons; their profession and related possible exposure risk; the number of participants coming from COVID-19–affected countries within the previous two weeks; and the average age of participants, since elderly groups appear to be more affected.

9 Recommendations for Managing Coronavirus Impact on your Event

Have a look at some of the other key things you need to consider:

1.Where is your event and where will your audience be coming from?  

As you already know where your event is taking place, it’s quite easy to assess whether you can or should proceed with it. An event due to be held in a high-risk zone will not be able to proceed. But once the crisis is over and the area is deemed to be safe again, you will need to decide whether you want to hold it there or move it elsewhere.

As well as being clear on risk zones, it’s vital that you understand where your audience will be coming from. For example, you could spread the virus by holding an event in a safe area but not realising that your audience have been in infected areas. Without checking passports and asking people where they have been this becomes an operational challenge. Having said that, the SaaStr Annual 2020 is doing precisely that. They have some pretty strong entry criteria in place. They will be checking passports and using thermal scanning of attendees to ensure that they are healthy and can be granted access to the event.

Within the term audience, think not only of delegates, but also of VIPs, speakers, exhibitors, sponsors, contractors and other stakeholders that come into contact at the event. It can be too easy to focus on delegates and disregard the impact of other people that could spread the virus.

You can use your event management system to help identify and communicate with groups of people. For example, if you need to communicate something specific with people coming from affected countries or if you just need to identify how many people are coming from a specific area.

Expo Database: List of events that have been cancelled to date

New York Times: Cancelled because of Coronavirus – a brief list

No event ban necessary in UK, says gov medical adviser

2. Who is coming to your event?   

As well as understanding the demographics (the virus tends to have a higher risk impact for the elderly) of your event, what organisations are likely to come is another important factor for consideration.  Senior leadership members or keynote speakers may be reluctant or unable to come.

In addition, a number of large companies are banning or significantly curtailing employee travel for an undetermined period of time.

Meetingsnet: Keeping up with COVID-19

Coronavirus fears are battering the $2.5 trillion trade show industry

3. What alternative event formats could you use?

Whilst not all live events, such as awards dinners will be able to be reconfigured, there are alternative formats such as live streaming (web-casting) events that you could consider.

For years now and due to the ongoing advances in technology, virtual meetings and webcasting events have been successfully delivered across the globe. Live steaming of events enables people to take part in an event without the need to leave their home or office. All that they need is an internet web link to the conference (event).

You could decide to stream your event and have limited audience engagement or you could design your remote event to fully immerse participants and get them involved in working together on case studies and exercises. It’s all possible with a little bit of design thinking.

How to plan a virtual event

The event planner’s guide to free live-streaming tools on social media

7 mistakes to avoid when using Facebook Live

4. Some decisions will be taken out of your hands   

Despite your intention of holding your event you may find that other organisations impact on your decision-making process. For example, airlines cancelling flights on certain routes. Regional or national authorities taking decisions to close down all events or events of a certain size. Hotel chains, conference centres and other suppliers could all take decisions that are beyond your control but which mean that you cannot hold your live event if you want to.

Switzerland bans high-cap events amid coronavirus fears

5. Separate fact from fiction

Hard hitting headlines provoke emotion. When there is so much information on coronavirus coming from all directions, it can be easy to read the headlines and move on. But often, you need to read the article in full to understand the argument or opinion.

Media companies have their agendas to increase their circulation and readership figures. Bad news sells. It’s interesting to note, that media commentators have not mentioned in any depth, the slowing down of the virus and the recovery rates.

It’s important to ensure that the verifiable facts from independent bodies are used for the bulk of your decision making. Clearly, actions and opinions of others will also play their part.

PCMA: Industry experts weigh in on the Coronavirus

Event Council: Statement on COVID-19 to members, partners and the events community

MPI: Corona virus resources for meeting professionals

6. Communicate clearly

It’s really important that in a time of uncertainty about what the virus could mean, that you keep all event stakeholders up to date with where you are.

Event management software can help you communicate with attendees effectively. You can use pre-scheduled emails, email alerts and if you have a live app already that people are using, you can push notifications through it.

Your event website is another area that will be key in communicating effectively with attendees. You can use it as a main signposting point. It could be used to talk about things you’re doing on-site to limit the spread of infection or whether you are re-scheduling or cancelling the event. Just be sure to let people know what’s happening.  Communication is key especially in a time of crisis.

MMBC to Meetings Industry: There’s No Reason to Cancel Events in the U.S

IMEX Has ‘No Plans to Cancel or Postpone’ Frankfurt Show Over Coronavirus

How to handle a big crisis at your event

7. Managing your event on site

If you decide to hold your event as you have deemed it safe to do so, then it’s crucial that you undertake the necessary precautions to keep everyone safe. How rigorous these measures will be, depends on you and the relevant authorities. Some event planners are carrying on, with a business as usual approach.  This doesn’t seem to take into account just how the virus can be spread. For example, banning handshakes and air kisses would seem to be the very minimal that organisers could insist on.

At the other end of the scale, there are cases where organisers are insisting that delegates wash their hands-on arrival and throughout the day as they attend sessions. It’s clear that different interpretations are being adopted by planners.

Additional Health & Safety Rules for 2020 SaaStr Annual

Emergency Preparedness and Response: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

8. Is hotel accommodation your responsibility?   

Given the ways in which the virus can be spread what is your view on how you should deal with the accommodation of delegates and stakeholders? For example, if you signpost delegates to housing options that are offered on your website does that mean you are taking responsibility for any issues at the hotel(s)?

Whilst it is good to have healthy relationships with hotels and venues do you want to be responsible (inadvertently) if they help spread the virus. For example, if their cleaning standards are not what you would expect, what will you do? Could you ask them to be more thorough in their cleaning duties or would that be a step too far?

Maybe you will need to make it clear to delegates that as the event planner you cannot be held responsible for the hotels’ cleanliness. But, if you make that statement, you will hardly be giving much confidence to your delegates. The key is always to manage expectations and have a clear understanding of what you are providing.

It would be useful to check what contracts and insurance policies you have in place. They could be very helpful, especially in the event of a dispute on responsibilities. Always check with your insurance provider as to the extent of coverage provided and whether you need to ask them for any changes.

Impact of the Coronavirus on Organizations’ Meetings and Events

COVID Confusion; Las Vegas Show Scene Prepares

9. What do you need to do after the event?     

What will and should you do once the event has finished? The event went well, delegates, sponsors and other stakeholders said that it was a great success. But, once everyone has gone home what are your obligations? Is it just the case of issuing the post event survey or should you be doing anything extra?  Clearly if someone has become ill during your event with the COVID-19 symptoms you would need to let the relevant authorities know.

According to the guidance for mass gatherings as published by the World Health Organisation “Meeting organizers must liaise with public health authorities and facilitate the sharing of information about all symptomatic participants (such as their itineraries, contact information, visa procedures, and hotel bookings)”. Whilst this information applies to large gatherings it can really be applied to any event regardless of size. You will just need to be sure that your event management system has captured the necessary information that will be requested by the authorities.

CDC Issues Coronavirus Guidelines for Large Events

Keep up to date and work together

The position with COVID – 19 is changing daily. Advice provided today may change tomorrow (as more knowledge of the virus is gained). It’s imperative that you keep an eye with what is happening and how that could change your decision making.

Read widely, listen to podcasts, watch webinars (our industry associations are the best resource for this) and learn as much as you can about what you can do to lessen the impact of the disease. Look for lessons learned that you can take from other organisations’ experiences. The virus could potentially affect everyone. It has no boundaries. So look beyond the events sector for other initiatives to reduce the risk that you could apply to your event(s).

Related article: Working remotely?  8 time-wasting habits you need to quit!

Make the most of your event management technology to access key information. Let the technology help you develop your event strategy. Share your experiences and insights with other event industry professionals and partners.  Keep up to date, stay positive and remember you work in an incredibly resilient industry.

Resources You Should Bookmark:

(WHO) World Health Organisation

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

PHE (Public Health England)

PCMA

Association of Event Organisers (AEO)

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Eventsforce Brings Self-Service Check-In to Scottish Events

Eventsforce Brings Self-Service Check-In to Scottish Events Industry

As an event planner, you’ll know what a logistical nightmare printing and scanning delegate badges can be. Yet getting it right is so important as it can have a huge impact on first impressions when people arrive at an event.

Eventsforce will be at this month’s EVENTIT 2020 show in Scotland to showcase its self-service check-in solution which helps organisers cut down registration queues and offer attendees a more efficient way to scan and print badges on-site.  The event, which is taking place on the 19th March at the Edinburgh Convention Centre, is set to gather more than 800 meeting and event professionals and over 80 exhibitors from across the country’s MICE supply chain.

Organisers attending the show will be able to get a hands-on demo of the Eventsforce Kiosk check-in solution at stand D4, as well as meet the team for a chat about their event tech requirements and the impact of important industry trends such as data management, personalisation, regulatory compliance and data security. Attendees will also be able to get a copy of a new industry eBook ‘The Event Planner’s Guide to Good Data Management’, which helps organisers get more value from their event data.

The topic will also be covered by Ian Webb, Head of Business Development at Eventsforce, in a panel session, titled ‘Is Event Tech a Hindrance or a Help?’.  The session, which is part of the show’s broad education programme featuring five workstreams and over 40 workshops, will take place at the Tech Talk stage between 2:00-2:30pm.

The organisers of EVENTIT 2020 have also partnered with Eventsforce to provide its awards management software for the 4th Annual E Awards ceremony taking place at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange in June.  The platform will help automate the entire awards submissions and selection process, which features 18 different categories celebrating the achievements of business events, festivals, event professionals, venues, students and industry suppliers.

For more information on EVENTIT 2020, please visit: https://eventit.org.uk/

To schedule a meeting with the Eventsforce team at EVENTIT 2020, please email: maz.qureshi@eventsforce.com


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How to Choose a Mobile Event App

Why cost should not be the reason you choose an event app

Event apps are no longer an option for many events today. Tech-savvy delegates expect them. Sponsors, partners and exhibitors dive into the granular data they get from them. In fact, according to a recent research study from Eventsforce, a staggering 81% of planners cited driving attendee engagement as their number one reason for using event apps.

When integrated seamlessly with your events, event apps can help you deliver a personalised experience at scale. But with so many apps out there all offering similar features, how do you choose the right one?

Why Cost is NOT the Reason to Choose an Event App

Whilst research shows cost is the biggest determining factor for organisers when deciding on whether to use an event app, it shouldn’t be the only one. Doing so could lead to all sorts of issues for you and your delegates.  Issues you never anticipated.

With that in mind, let’s look at 8 other important considerations that we believe should be included in your event app decision making process.

1) Functionality  

What functionality will the event app provide? What do you need it to provide? There would be little point in buying an event app that didn’t do all that you needed from it. Review the attributes you need and then find out if they are provided. If they are not, would you be compromising the delegate experience?

For example, do you need functionality that allows delegates to search an event programme, create their own schedules or use an interactive floor plan? What you need will depend on your event but there will be some functionality that is absolutely needed and some functionality that is nice to have. Research from Eventsforce, for example, shows session information and personalised agendas ranked as the most popular app features used by attendees. You would therefore be wise to include such items as requirements. But only you, will be able to decide whether the event app being considered is going to work for you and enhance your productivity and deepen the delegate experience.

2) Ease of Use

Simplicity of your event app is key for two main reasons. One for you as the organiser and secondly for your delegates. For you, the planner, the app should be designed not only to enable you to do more, but also to make your life easier. It should be easy to set up and empower you to focus on delivering the best event experience possible for your guests, not on learning and navigating cumbersome screens that add complexity.

For your delegates, event app design is key to whether apps are downloaded and used. If it’s too difficult for people they will give up and simply not use it. To boost engagement your app needs to be straightforward and a joy to use. Don’t forget that the app plays a part in the overall attendee experience. The app doesn’t need to have all the latest bells and whistles. As long as it has the right features that delegates value, then an event app that has been designed intuitively and is easy to use for attendees, will be spot on.

3) Support       

Event planners understand that there are a lot of things that can go wrong with an event. The stress can be enormous. They certainly don’t want to add event app technology glitches into the mix. The event planner needs to know that if there is a problem, support is readily available to help.

According to research from The Event Manager Blog, 40% of event professionals are still uncomfortable with event technology, and having strong support is one of the most deciding factors in their buying decision. With an attendee-facing tool like your event app, it is crucial to have quick and knowledgeable staff available to help you with any problems that might occur – before, during and after the event.

4) Integration     

Integration between different technology systems is essential. If the technology cannot be integrated, then event planners will just add to their workload. Seamless integration is imperative. Integrations connect your different tools and make them work together automatically. If your technology is fragmented, you will be wasting time, energy and data.

However, most technology suppliers are well aware of the demands of planners and offer integration services. Your event app providers should be able to customise connections between theirs and your existing software to fit your event.  Or you can deal with one provider who manages all your registration and app data on one centralised platform.

Make sure you review what you can integrate from your current event technologies into the app. This could (and should) include ticketing solutions, digital maps and interactivity tools for audience engagement.

5) Time    

Time is never the friend of an event planner. There is always a need to find more of it. An event app should help you with this. You need to be clear on whether the event app can help you avoid duplicating your work load. Running an event requires many programme updates and they should mirror each other on your website and the event app. Having to input changes twice wouldn’t be the best use of your time.

Remember, apps bring value to events only when they successfully connect attendees to the right content and right people at the right time. To do this effectively, organisers need to make sure that the information attendees see on apps is always accurate and up-to-date.

Ask the provider about some scenarios before committing. For example, can the event app block attendees from registering for sessions that take place at the same time, can you define quotas on the number of people per session based on room capacity and will attendees receive notifications to rate a speaker? These are just some questions that come to mind. If the event app doesn’t help save you time, it’s not helping.

6) Security   

The event app you finally choose needs to be strong in terms of security and data protection. GDPR has highlighted the whole business of data protection and mobiles being infected with harmful viruses is one of the ways that organisations can be vulnerable to attack. If you want to boost your event app engagement you need to give attendees reassurance that they are safe and that in choosing the event app you haven’t taken any short cuts at the expense of security protection.

It was pretty devastating for the Conservative party when it was discovered that their 2018 conference app had a security flaw that allowed anyone to access the personal data of attendees. Logging into the app only required an e-mail address with no additional verification being needed. Don’t go down the same path. Make sure your security is top notch.  It’s more important than ever.

Read: The Event Planner’s Guide to Data Security

7) Analytics    

Analytics are super important for event evaluation, the planning of future events and reporting back the hard numbers to the senior leadership team. If the event app you decide to proceed with doesn’t have relevant and insightful reporting, then you will be at a disadvantage.   Also, where is the ROI?

A great event app will help you demonstrate with hard numbers: the who, what, where and when. What sessions did your delegates go to, which downloads did they access etc. It’s invaluable information. Plus you will be able to see and benchmark your event app adoption rate. When data is critical for event success, you definitely need analytics to help you.

Read: How to Boost Adoption of Your Event App

8) Monetisation    

The monetisation opportunities you can get with your event app is another consideration to take into account. Does the app have the ability to monetise your conference or exhibition? Can it drive leads for your exhibitors and sponsors? Helping your sponsors and suppliers connect with attendees in a personalised way through sponsors adverts, targeted notifications, logo placement and information about their product gives ROI to these partners. If the app doesn’t have the capability of helping you increase revenue through monetisation, you could easily miss out on golden opportunities to work more closely with sponsors and exhibitors. Monetisation is also another way in which the investment in the event app can pay for itself.

Conclusion

Event apps entice event planners with their latest features and benefits. If the app is free or low cost, it can become even more tempting for some event planners. Especially those that are under considerable pressure to demonstrate cost savings whilst still delivering an engaging attendee experience. Cost becomes a real consideration, but as we have highlighted it shouldn’t be the main consideration. Just as important are functionality and integration – and these are things that can easily go wrong with free or cheap apps.

What is needed is an event app that will enable you to focus on optimising your attendee experience, without worrying about an event app that only does half the job.

Take a breath before you commit to an event app and think strategically. How will the chosen event app work to help your strategic event objectives? If it will, then great. But if you are buying on cost alone, it’s likely to be an expensive mistake in the long run.


Want to create the app experience your attendees want?  Eventsforce Mobile is an intelligent app designed to engage people and deliver event success.  Schedule demo to find out more!

 

 

 

8 Event Marketing Ideas to Boost Attendance

8 Event Marketing Ideas to Boost Attendance

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Creating buzz and excitement around your events is so important as it makes it easier to convince people why they should attend in the first place. As well as encouraging them to sign up, successful event promotion can also drive people to share their experiences more and come back year after year.

Whether you’re looking for some fresh new ideas or want to go back to basics, have a look at our list of popular marketing activities that engage people and convince them to come to an event:

1) Create Exclusive Content      

Content is so important – specifically exclusive content that is not available anywhere else. The content can take any form: such as blogs, podcasts or videos. But the key point is that this is new content. It is not recycled content.

You can create interest around your event by developing sneak previews of what will be on offer. For example, let’s say that your key speaker for a medical event is an expert in Toxicology. She has written many books on the subject. Her previous talks are available on YouTube and she has presented several webinars. Many potential attendees may already be aware of her work.

What you need to do is to offer people a sneak preview of what she will talk about that is new. Promoting the fact that she will be a speaker will generate some interest but with exclusive content you can really ignite potential attendees and increase their anticipation.

Related reading: 3 Content Marketing Tips for Event Planners

2) Harness the Power of Video    

Video is a great tool for marketing events. It gives your attendees the opportunity to learn more about your event and does a good job of conveying the personality of your organisation. It also is a lot more engaging than text.  Forrester Research claims that a minute of video can be equivalent to 1.8 million words.  That is the equivalent of 3,600 typical web pages!

Mini videos can be extremely useful to aid your marketing efforts. You could create a number of mini 30-second video clips and release them as part of your campaign over a period of time, building interest in your event.

As well as previewing what is to come, you could use testimonials as part of your awareness raising. You could also get a few people to talk about why they are coming to your event.

The opportunity to use videos and tell the story of your event before it’s happened is enormous as long as you keep in mind the benefit to your viewer of attending.  For more ideas, check out this article that lists a number of ways you can use video when promoting events.

3) Use Partners and PR

Events as you know, are not produced in a bubble. There can be any number of partners involved helping to bring your event to life. Just think of possible partners that could help with broadening the reach of your marketing. Partner up with the host venue, host destination, sponsors, an association(s) or speakers and discover ways in which you can work together.

For example, when working with a speaker you could ask them to produce a blog post or a mini video clip for you. It doesn’t have to be about the content they will deliver at your event. It could be on a separate subject, but it will provide potential attendees with a glimpse of the speaker.

You could provide partners with some pre-written social media messages, including registration pages and maybe a discount code to share with their followers or members. Promote your partners and tag them on social media channels.

If you can also obtain coverage in their newsletters or LinkedIn group(s) that would also help.  It’s all about spreading the message far and wide. Don’t forget to use PR where you can. You or your partner(s) may have an agency that can help with media interviews, show previews and by-lined articles.

4) Engage Influencers and Use Word of Mouth  

People are basically social. We rely on our circle of family and friends for support and assistance. We tend to trust people we admire and often model our behaviour after theirs. This fact along with the explosion of the internet and social media has led to the rise of digital influencers and influencer marketing.

Traditionally, an influencer could be anyone from an A-list celebrity to a subject matter expert. The only criterion being that they must have a substantial following on some type of online platform.

But, let’s change our thinking from seeing the ideal influencer as someone who has an impressive number of followers, to someone who might have a smaller but more relevant following. You can use micro influencers who are immersed with your target audience. They are extremely valuable and often have highly engaged followers.

As well as using influencers, you can use of word of mouth as another technique to boost attendance. Encourage your attendees and interested parties (stakeholders) to talk about the event and inspire people to come along. Word of mouth is great for getting people who are not on your email lists, in your event management system or on your social media radar.

Related reading: How to Choose the Right Influencers for Your Event Marketing Activities

5) Get Your Email Marketing Right   

Email marketing is essential for promoting events. It is also one of those things that needs to be executed in the right way. For example: creating the email invitation, inviting VIPs and maximising email signatures are just three things that spring to mind.  If you get any of these wrong, you could be in trouble.

Invitations are one of the most important things to get right. They help set the tone of an event and are often one of the first opportunities to make a good impression with potential attendees. However, research has found that getting people to open that email, click through and sign up to the event is something most organisers struggle with when it comes to event invitations. Strong subject lines and simple design and layout of your email will help.

Related reading: How to Create Invites that Draw People to Your Events

If you decide to invite people as VIPs, then make sure that they are significant to your event. Some organisations send VIP invites to lots of people without filtering who really should be a VIP. Send your special invites to the people that really matter. A small number of well-considered invitations could make a big difference to the success of your event.

Email signatures are often overlooked but they provide a great way of amplifying your event. Include a call to action to drive more registrations. Change the email signature as you get closer to the event and highlight different aspects of it.

6) Make Your Social Special  

Social media is another effective way of promoting events.  But you will need a strategy, otherwise you will waste time and energy. Target the right social media channels for your audience – there is no point creating buzz in the wrong places.

You will need a variety of content to share and a posting schedule. You can reflect your events’ branding throughout the campaign by replacing generic background images with event logos and your event hashtag.

You can tag in people that are participating such as speakers, hosts, the planning team and maybe delegates that have registered (just make sure you don’t violate any GDPR rules). Have a simple hashtag for your event, one, that is easy to remember and spell. Incorrect spellings of your hashtag will not help your marketing.

If you have some budget, you may choose to buy advertising or sponsor content on social media channels. There is currently a trend to do more paid social as the organic reach of social media is reducing – especially on platforms like Twitter. Use search engine marketing platforms like Google’s AdWords where you can pay to have your event advertised at the top of a search results page.

A combination of paid and organic social media is likely to provide you with the best results.

7) Use Text Messaging

Messaging potential attendees is another way to boost attendance. Not all of your marketing messaging should be done through using only email or social media. There are other ways in which you can get your message across. Some people respond well to texts or messaging apps. Whilst others are happy to take a phone call (yes it still happens).

Then there are messaging apps that you can use. For example, WhatsApp and Slack are pretty good for building interest and community.

Whatever means of messaging you decide to use, it has to work for your potential attendees.  You will probably need to use a combination of methods as everyone has a preference on how they like to be contacted. You should be able to locate their contact preference information within your event management solution.  Systems like Eventsforce can also help you track this consent to ensure you’re always communicating with attendees in a GDPR compliant way (watch video).

8) Personalise Registration & Don’t Forget Discounts   

Though it has its own set of challenges and can vary in effectiveness from one event to another, personalisation doesn’t have to be as complicated as one might think. Most organisations today use some form of automated system to manage registrations around their events and it is good starting point for any kind of personalisation you may want to do.

You could use your event management system to personalise the registration journey for your different audiences to demonstrate how important they are. For example, having a unique registration path for your VIP guests will ensure the questions and prices offered to them aren’t visible to other attendees which will make them feel that the whole experience was ‘personalised’ for them the whole time.  You can get all sorts of similar personalisation ideas from this industry eBook – ‘The Event Planner’s Guide to Personalisation’.

An event management system should also provide you with the flexibility of offering tiered pricing, one off sales and early booking discounts. Using discounts is one way to boost event attendance but it shouldn’t be the one that you rely on.

Conclusion

The ideas we’ve outlined can be mixed and matched according to the individual event. Some techniques will work better for some events than others. The important thing to remember though is to adjust as needed. Make sure you have a strategy for your event marketing campaign and understand why you are following certain actions.

In all the ideas, there is a simple common thread: You have to be clear on what you are saying and why people should come to your event. If you are not clear, it doesn’t matter how many things you do or how much money you spend, your efforts will fail.

Understand who your potential attendees are, use straightforward language, offer a clear proposition and you should see the results you want.


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What Event Planners Need to Know About 5G Today + 4 Other Tech Stories to Read

What event planners need to know about 5G today

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In this month’s round up of top tech stories, we look at how important data protection and data security has become for event planners two years since the introduction of GDPR. We also look at some cool new tech tools, including short-range projectors and a VR solution that makes venue site-inspections a lot more practical (and less expensive!). Finally, we look at why traditional event chatbots may be a thing of the past and some of the other practical treats 5G and AI have in store for us for events in the future.

Have a look at the top event tech stories you don’t want to miss:

M&IT: Has the Events Industry Grasped Data Protection After 2 years of GDPR?

Data protection regulations got serious back in 2018 when the European Union enforced the stringent General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law, meaning the way companies collect, process and protect the personal information of EU citizens changed forever. And while some event planners are still struggling with GDPR compliance, it seems the regulation has brought about a number of positive changes to our industry, especially with regards to event marketing, data management and data security.  The article highlights how events are now also starting to promote their data protection credentials a lot more than before in an effort to show attendees that they can be trusted with their most valuable asset – their personal information.  Read more.

NEW eBook: The Event Planner’s Guide to Good Data Management

MeetingsNet: 5G Broadband – What Event Planners Need to Know Right Now

5G is set to significantly change how content is delivered and consumed at events and conferences, but according to this article, planners must address technical and logistical considerations to make the most of the bandwidth that will soon be at their disposal. One suggestion is to ask venues if they already have 5G antennas in their largest meeting and pre-function spaces to handle the needs of a lot of people.

Another thing to account for is that 5G burns mobile-phone battery power more quickly than 4G, so additional charging stations might have to be provided. Planners could also mention this in pre-event materials and encourage attendees to bring their own power banks for on-the-go-recharging. Read more.

Related reading: Top Wi-Fi Considerations for Event Planners

Event MB: 5 Tech Trends from CES That Will Impact Events

The team at EventMB do a good job here of putting together some of the most relevant tech news that came out of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) – especially those that are set to change the way people experience events in the future.  For example, the article suggests there will be a move away from using traditional chatbots at events and more focus on tech like Samsung’s latest evolution of smart assistants – humanoid AI chatbots that act like Siri or Google Assistant but actually learn and display emotions. The interface provides a much smoother and human-like experience with lighting speed responses, making it more palatable for events (having a helpful chatbot can also mean saving thousands in extra staff!).

Another trend is 5G as planners resistant to using engagement tech for lack of reliable or affordable Wi-Fi will now be able to engage with an incredible amount of data transfer. Want to beam in a hologram speaker? Easy. Want to create some amazing AR activation? Done. Other notable trends in the article include the emergence of cool new short-range projectors, interactive screens and the use of voice-assistants.  Read more.

MeetingsNet: VR-based Venue Site Inspections Take Another Step Forward

It seems Virtual Reality technology is making site inspections more robust for event and meeting planners after the launch of the XR Event Planner from Accenture and Qualcomm Technologies. The VR technology solution places event planners and hotel sales staff side-by-side in a virtual reconstruction of an event space, allowing them to remotely envision and configure the layout in real time. InterContinental Hotels Group is the first hotel company to partner with the two technology firms to test-drive the tool with organisers interested in viewing the event space at the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown.

The pilot program recreates the venue space in three dimensions, including accurate reflections of architectural features, layouts, lighting, carpet design, table settings, and fabric patterns. Users can modify room layouts by toggling between table and chair configurations, stage placements, decorations, and lighting as they all collaborate remotely and add notes for colleagues or for the hotel’s set-up personnel.  The solution could shorten the time frame between a planner’s first inquiry to a property and signing a deal to hold a meeting there and decrease cost associated with bookings events. Read more.

Corbin Ball: Artificial Intelligence – The Upcoming Impact on Events

AI is set to become the most significant technology change agent of the 2020s.  According to event tech expert, Corbin Ball, the technology is already making steady inroads in our industry with many innovative solutions now available in the market.  One of the examples cited in the article include Wordly, a simultaneous interpretation system that uses AI voice recognition to instantly translate an event presentation into 15 languages.  Another is TrackMany which uses iPhone cameras as facial recognition data collectors to anonymously track a range of attendee demographics.  Other tools include AI-powered matchmaking tools and content aggregators that use AI to deliver more personalised content to event audiences. Read more.


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