Putting confidence, care and COVID on the agenda
Events are back – but how do you manage risk?
At FCM Meetings & Events’ recent Ideas Exchange, key industry guests discussed the importance of audience confidence as events start to fire back up again.
The worst of the pandemic may be behind us, but the MICE industry is still responding to ever-changing health orders, safety concerns and risk mitigation. So what does this mean for the industry as we curate experiences to bring audiences together again? How does the MICE industry navigate regulations to inspire trust and confidence?
Timely communication with event audiences is essential to explain what you are doing to mitigate risk and what contingencies you have in place to deliver a safe event – such as providing RATs for all attendees. Then it’s also important to tell the stories of events that have been held successfully, to inspire others to be bold and to plan events.
The big question - in person or virtual?
Now we have some perspective, we asked our guests which events delivered the best results – face-to-face or virtual? It’s a question that needs to be framed by research suggesting 52% of the workforce will remain in a hybrid setting and 11% will be totally remote. This represents a huge shift, which influences how we approach future events.
All agreed that the ‘face-to-face versus virtual’ question depends on the intentionality, the message being delivered and the audience targeted. For a dispersed workforce, such as sales teams that work independently all the time, the opportunity to connect face-to-face with others is important. While an audience of very busy, time poor surgeons are more likely to be comfortable with a virtual conference.
Plus virtual events can deliver the same message to everyone at the same time, to help drive a company’s strategy – especially when they have a national workforce. One guest organised a very successful virtual recognition event, live streaming the CEO as they visited with winners’ houses. The event created amazing excitement, with a bit of magic you simply couldn’t replicate on stage.
FCM’s virtual Illuminate event, held in 2021, is another great example of how the virtual format extended the event’s reach to new audiences and partners.
Others expressed the very real issue of customers experiencing ‘virtual fatigue’ and wanting personal connection again.
There are proven benefits of face-to-face events, which draw on different communication styles (body language and non verbal cues), to build rapport, create strong bonds to experiences and allow for more organic networking.
The overarching message was that there is a place for both. The key is doing hybrid effectively, but not to have virtual and face-to-face competing with each other. Virtual events still need to improve the overall experience, but when the design and content of an event is carefully curated, it can successfully deliver value to both audiences.