With what the World Health Organization has now confirmed to be a public health emergency of international concern, the COVID-19, more commonly known as ‘coronavirus’, has been affecting everything from the travel industry to the meetings industry. We've been hearing stories of meetings being postponed or flat-out canceled, as a result of this virus, especially in the technology industry (see here for a running list of cancelled tech conferences).
Moreover, a recent survey put out by MPI states that 34% of its respondents were extremely concerned with the virus and the impact this is beginning to pose on the meetings industry. With many of these growing concerns, meeting and marketing professionals must adapt and put some solutions forward.
Besides ensuring that the wellbeing of your attendees and colleagues stays as top priority, here are some solutions and good practices that can be implemented to future-proof meetings during this uncertain time:
Virtual or "Edutainment" events
With the advent of mobile technology and internet speeds getting faster and more reliable, nowadays, having meetings and getting your message across doesn’t have to be a physical thing anymore. With the threat of the virus being spread interpersonally, meetings can now be had solely in the virtual world. In fact, Google, Adobe and Microsoft were some of the first tech companies to pivot to virtual conferences. Through the use of virtual meetings, you are able to present on video to up to 10,000 viewers live. Additionally, if your meeting requires collaboration between attendees, virtual meetings can be set up in “virtual rooms” in which collaboration tools are provided.
Additionally, many brands are creating shorter virtual events that have both a training or educational component and an entertainment component to the virtual environment. Using celebrities, rich media, innovative apps and other tools in addition to the traditional meeting environments is a smart way to attract and engage customers beyond the traditional meeting platforms.
As obvious as this may seem, having event insurance is of the utmost importance. We never expect acts of God to ever affect us but it’s always better to be prepared. If you've planned right, check your current insurance contracts for ways to limit your exposure on event spend.
Revise your force majeure clauses in your contracts
Unforeseeable circumstances such as this virus have grown to the point where many meetings are being cancelled and/or postponed. However, many of the contracts you may have setup with hotels and venues occurred way before this outbreak. So, it’s good practice to consult with your legal team and update all force majeure clauses to better protect yourself and your meetings.
Turning Events into Targeted Content and 1:1 Promotions
As external marketing and sales events are being delayed or cancelled, marketers are losing an important tactic in their promotional mix to drive engagement and sales. In additional to virtual events, many companies are quickly repurposing their event budgets to fuel more 1:1 engagement with clients using targeted promotions, account-based marketing and targeted advertising. In some cases, event producers may be willing to share some level of registration data with brands to help them build more direct dialog with potential prospects. Agile brands are then bringing the same content planned for the event to individuals using clever direct mail and advertising tactics. Think of it as an "event in a box". In doing so, they are finding that they can keep the funnel moving forward vs. waiting for physical events to kick in again.
Reinvest in Sales Enablement and Storytelling
With the challenges faced by widespread event cancellations, now is the time to double down on ensuring your sales teams have the best tools possible to actively promote your solutions in alternative ways. Smart technology brands are quickly investing in training to help their salespeople become better storytellers, as well as equipping them with engaging content and tools that help them better present and engage digitally. Interactive presentations, rich media and video are all ways to help fill the void of more tactile live events.
Ready for the Challenge
Meeting planners and marketers are able to adapt swiftly and effectively, but most importantly, they know how to handle crises. Make sure to keep your resources up to date and adapt to the changing meetings environment.
Mighty & True is partnering with Innovia Productions to provide turnkey virtual event services to our clients during this time of uncertainty, as well as a full suite of digital services to supplement your marketing mix. If you're interested in speaking with us about how we can keep your marketing and event plans moving forward, contact us or Innovia Productions today.