Before relaunching in-person experiences, event planners will need to thoughtfully consider safety and security risks for their event.
Clear and inspiring communication is central to making this next unsteady phase a success. In addition to moving decisively on strategic changes, event planners need to help rattled stakeholders and attendees believe in (and feel safe about) the future. That means communicating earlier, more frequently and being transparent about all practices and contingency plans in place.
You ought to be communicating with your (potential) attendees as soon as your event is on the books. Make your health risk mitigation information easily available before someone purchases a ticket (on social media), after they have purchased a ticket (confirmation email), leading to the event (pre-event email and social media) to account for any updates or changes. Here are a few ideas:
- Launch sites and app earlier: This is the point at which the social ties that bind the attendees together are refreshed and reinforced and renewed. Throughout this phase, focus messaging on discovery as a way simultaneously to look back and ahead. Essentially answer this question: Through the crisis and our response, what have we learned about ourselves, each other and our organization that can help us in the future?
- Send direct communications to home at the start: Before, during, and after the event, utilizing direct mail marketing tactics will only increase your opportunities to impress attendees and further solidify your brand in their minds. Think physical know-before-you-go mailings.
- Let them know more will be coming: Having a printed piece that explains the communications over the next few months will help attendees feel prepared and ease their fear of travel knowing you’re there supporting them.
Transparent communication is imperative during any time of uncertainty. Organizations with honest, consistent communication increase consumer loyalty, while those lacking clear information risk leaving their prospective attendees uncertain—and less likely to purchase tickets to future events. Silence fuels anxiety, but being proactive by keeping your attendees engaged and informed inspires more consumer confidence in your organization.
- Participants are going to need (and want) extra reminders: Even during less disruptive times, people are easily distracted and bombarded with content coming at them at a near endless rate. That means they can easily forget about your event without regular reminders. Emails, push notifications, SMS—whatever it takes to get in front of their eyes.
- Avoid confusion and information overload by infusing consistency: Attendees might have extra questions that they want answered before the event, so make sure that your emails include a link to your contact info, FAQ page or any health and safety resources.
Plan for Flexibility
Lack of communication can leave attendees uncertain and unwilling to support you now or in the future. If you have a contingency plan to alter your event or even postpone it, delayed messaging puts you at risk for attendees to request refunds before the new plan is announced—so communication is absolutely necessary. Let them know what you are working on and what information they can expect from you.
Don’t Undervalue Crystal Clear Communication
Once you’ve communicated your health and safety precautions, it’s important to listen for feedback and concerns (before, during and after your event), and be responsive.
In addition to your policies and procedures for keeping your attendees safe, consider sharing your decision-making process, what factors were considered, and with whom you consulted in making your decision. Consider highlighting the existing uncertainties surrounding events and explain what measures are being taken to reduce those risks. This is an opportunity to empathetically show attendees you have given these issues consideration and care. It also provides attendees the opportunity to decide to accept those risks, take additional precautions when attending or decide not to attend.
It’s important to share the steps that your event is taking to promote the health and safety of attendees, employees and partners. Even when certain regulations around gathering begin to lift, guests will be weighing the personal and community risks. Alleviate these worries by sharing the actions you’re taking to protect community welfare at the event.
While we get to work figuring out what our future looks like, let’s not forget all the things we know as foundational to great event design.