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?

audience confidence
Inspiring confidence

For the team at Marina Bay Sands (MBS), Singapore it has been a matter of following some of the strictest government mandates in the region, while allying customer fears. According to MBS’s Sharon Lamm,

hygiene and safety are always the top considerations for our venues – not just for guests, but also for over 10 thousand staff. We were quick to set up a dedicated team within MBS to assist our event organisers at the start of the pandemic. This team guides event organisers every step of the way, with requirements such as setting aside dedicated spaces for arrival testing. 

Life has to go on, so it’s about striking the right balance to manage events safely. It’s also about communicating clearly and educating people on the regulations in place in Singapore, such as inviting media to see for themselves the very rigorous procedures in place.

According to Air New Zealand’s Kirstie Dyergrose the desire to travel will come back.
People will always need to travel for all sorts of reasons and speaking from an airline perspective, we also need people to travel,” said Kirstie. “We need to continue to build confidence, in travel and planning events, through empathy and good communication that acknowledges travellers’ fears of cancelled plans or of being stuck in a another country.
Laughing at the table
New processes, for a new normal

As state and country borders reopen, we are still faced with ‘intangible’ borders due to testing regimes, vaccination mandates and complex entry requirements. So how do we transition to a new normal for travel?

For FCM Meetings & Events General Manager, Simone Seiler that answer lies in creating a sense of security and support for customers, through access to critical information.

Internally, we have the support of our Marco Polo team experts to inform us, so we can in turn support our customers,” explained Simone. “The launch of our COVID Travel Hub means customers can find up-to-date information 24/7, to guide them through every stage of their journey and address their concerns.

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.

Kirstie added, “as an industry we need to work with our suppliers, as rules around event cancellations and postponements have become more of a grey area. While restrictions may have lifted, many people are still not comfortable travelling. So we need guidelines for the ‘new normal’, as well as terms and conditions that protect everyone financially.

care confidence
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.

Event production

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.

Don’t miss out on hosting an awesome event, in the location you want, with the confidence of your audience.


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