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Opening up the world to in-person and hybrid events (part two)

While the pandemic may not be officially “over”, planning for both in person and virtual live events that strengthen connections and communities is gathering real momentum.  Our clients are typically adding fewer in-person events into their annual calendar than pre-pandemic. But each carries a weight of expectation to deliver an immersive, interactive, engaging and memorable experience that justifies the time, effort and cost of bringing people together.

Some clients’ decisions continue to be shaped by restrictions in their corporate travel policies which remain in place until the end of the year. But planning for 2022 global live experience is strong and we expect a busy January as budgets are approved for the coming year.  

Here are some top tips, contributed by our dynamic team, to ensure that the return to in-person events is adaptable, safe and emphasises meaningful experiences.

Be considerate of venues under pressure

The release of pent-up demand for premium venues and congress centres is putting properties under enormous pressure to respond to an avalanche of proposals. As event professionals, we can help our venue partners respond effectively to RFPs by preparing precise briefs and shortlists with clients in advance of making enquiries so venues and DMCs can prioritise their responses and offers.

Help clients to help their stakeholders

Client requirements are changing from pre-pandemic times, so we are listening and communicating more carefully than ever to ensure clear, mutual understanding and support timely decision-making. Our corporate clients are, in turn, co-ordinating multiple internal stakeholders so it’s critical we ensure they’re armed with all the deadlines and facts – especially those that are different or additional to pre-pandemic requirements – to manage change and minimise the stress of uncertainty.

Maintain focus on critical goals with a creative eye

At the root of every successful project is clarity on objectives and intended outcomes. While clients are understandably keen to pin down their requirements as early as possible to return to in-person experiences, looking beyond the obvious at the whole event lifecycle – including destination, format and delivery – in line with client goals may provide exciting and previously unexplored solutions.  We have fine-tuned our four-stage creative process to interrogate every element of the project, to deliver the best possible experiences and outcomes – even if that challenges preconceptions.

Prioritise participant experience

The pandemic was a watershed moment and examining goals and desired outcomes with fresh eyes is helping us all embrace different possibilities for engaging and inspiring participants at every event touchpoint, whether physical or virtual. It’s critical that we understand the new audience landscape, expectations and priorities to ensure we accommodate all participants, even when confronted by new barriers – for example, variations in COVID vaccination status requirements for in-person events.

Rethink physical location

We are finding clients are looking to upweight the business and social networking elements of their in-person event agendas, after such a protracted period of arm’s-length interactions. This means finding venues that can accommodate larger gatherings safely. With increased pressure on popular destinations and venues anticipated over the coming year, our creative process includes evaluating more unusual location options and event formats that still meet the brief. For example, in some instances a big city airport hub location could be replaced by a more unusual town or countryside environment that can be reached by train.

Sustainability matters more than ever

Last but definitely not least, with climate change very much front of mind in light of the COP26 summit, it’s vital to consider the impact of events on people and planet, particularly as international travel resumes. At TTA, sustainability is a priority, not an afterthought. We embed environmentally and socially responsible practices with measurable outcomes into our own operations and every stage of the event lifecycle, so we can continue to meet the needs of our clients and delegates without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.

As the world opens up, so do our options for providing ever more exciting and engaging event experiences. The disruption of the pandemic has condensed years’ worth of change into a matter of months and shone a spotlight on the purpose of events for businesses and society as a whole.  We anticipate the focus of events – whether online, offline or hybrid – will shift from content to experience. And we’re excited to be bringing our expertise, consultative approach, creativity and ecosystem of trusted partners to help our clients achieve their business goals through events in 2022 and beyond.