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Are We There Yet? An Events Industry Update

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Vaccination is progressing worldwide. Fewer people are being hospitalized. Death rates are thankfully on the decline. It’s all good news, but it doesn’t mean everyone is out of the woods just yet. The disruptions of the past year will take time to make a full recovery. Here’s what you can expect, and how to pivot if necessary.

Reality #1: Some providers will never come back.
Solution: Take advantage of the opportunity to find new, local providers that are eager to impress.

Sadly, the economic toll was too much for some event, food & beverage, entertainment, décor, and service companies to absorb. Others lost key members of their staff to COVID-19 and were unable to replace them at a level they felt was equal to the reputation they’d built. However, there are many new companies that have entered the market during these unique times. From hors d’oeuvres, to staging and technology, to music and entertainment, this is a time to explore new options. 

Reality #2: More people want to be outdoors
Solution: Think beyond the picnic.

Summer is coming back at just the right moment for many who are eager to return to “normal” life. For now, being outdoors is still preferable to enclosed indoor spaces – especially if it means people can come together somewhat like they used to. That doesn’t mean everything has to happen in a tent, or at a bbq. Leading event companies have always been skilled at building creative environments – whether at a trade show, or at a festival. Approach event planning with an open mind to how you may be able to be physically outdoors while still enjoying the creature comforts of an indoor space. Shaded bungalows, air-supported domes, and colorful umbrellas and fabric can go a long way towards a custom space.

Reality #3: In-person attendance won’t return overnight
Solution: Plan for some element of events to remain accessible to remote/digital attendees

At first, there may be a small surge in eager attendees wishing for an in-person event. However, it won’t be everyone. Some people with their own health issues or who live with someone with fragile health may continue to be extra cautious for the time being. Similarly, until some people know about how new variants of COVID-19 will act, they too may choose to be selective about in-person gatherings. So that you don’t lose valuable contact that you’ve worked so hard to establish during this year apart, make sure you offer some sort of experience or interaction for at-home attendees. It could be a simple gesture like a food delivery, a fully hybrid event, or something in between. The right choice will depend on the size – and split – of your audience.

Reality #4: Events may be more costly that you remember
Solution: Adopt a Less-is-More and More-is-Less philosophy

Across the board, venues, caterers, servers, and others must now follow new protocols, use more or different equipment, and take extra precautions for the health and safety of guests. These all come with more expense – either in actual “hard” expenses such as disposable food containers, masks, and gloves; or in “soft” manpower costs associated with additional personnel for staffing food stations, maintaining social distancing, and more. As the size of events go up, the additional costs go up as well.  Instead of dialing all the way up to large-scale events all at once, consider doing smaller events (less is more), but more frequently throughout the year (more is less). This will allow you to get a clearer picture of new budgets, while also balancing attendance levels that are ever-changing right now.

To be clear, events ARE coming back. It just takes a little more strategy to make sure they live up to expectations (both yours and that of your guests).

About the VIBE Agency: The VIBE Agency is a Miami-based award-winning full-service production agency that specializes in the creation and orchestration of live and virtual experiences for the corporate industry.   The agency is forward-thinking and was recognized as one of the 50 top event companies by Special Events magazine in 2019 and 2020.  Most recently, Valerie Bihet, founder of the VIBE was named a Smart Women in Meetings 2021 Hall of Fame honoree by Smartmeetings, for her consistent work advancing the industry.  If it can’t be live, make it VIBE!

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