Preparing for Events, Post-COVID-19

calendarHas your event already been postponed due to COVID-19? Or are you developing contingencies in hopes that your summer or fall event can move forward, but know things may be different?

As show daily producers, the CustomNEWS team works with associations of many different shapes and sizes to support their communications and marketing efforts. From sharing content and photos to creating daily highlight videos, we know the importance of using different channels to reach attendees and members.

We’ve put together some thoughts and ideas that may resonate with you now, or in a few months as you continue to determine what the full impact of Coronavirus is on your events.

Helping Exhibitors

APICEXHIBITHALL007Conferences and tradeshows provide exhibitors with the opportunity for face-to-face interactions. But if a company experienced negative financial impacts due to COVID-19, it could be necessary to show them you recognize that these are challenging times.

Exhibitors may be working with smaller marketing and sponsorship budgets. Is it possible to lower the costs for this year? It would show that you want to help them succeed.

There also may be companies that can’t uphold their commitment to exhibit, possibly because of budget cuts, travel restrictions or the need for staff to be in labs or provide client support (i.e. not staffing a booth). Can you still provide ways for them to connect with attendees through print, digital and social media advertising opportunities?

Are your members and attendees directly impacted by COVID-19? Look for ways that exhibitors can share case studies (would apply to scientific/medical organizations and communities). This could be done through print or digital daily newspapers, social media or your website, to name just a few. We’ve noticed that attendees are very interested in learning about how others faced challenges that they may also be experiencing.

Attendance Implications

Share highlights via email.

Your show’s attendance may be impacted by COVID-19, for a variety of reasons. This year, more than ever, it is important to reach those unable to attend. They still want to hear about topics covered in education sessions, learn more about what exhibitors are featuring and organization news. A few suggestions to do so include:

  • Publish a print/digital/hybrid daily publication that can be shared online through multiple channels, in either PDF or flipbook format.
  • Email newsletter with snippets of content, photos, maybe link to a daily publication.
  • Daily video highlight segments.
  • Blogs/live updates on website.
  • Frequent posts on all social media channels.

Moving Forward

For events that either are continuing as scheduled or were rescheduled, pre-show communications will be very important.

Attendees and members will want to hear about special preparations being made; and will want to be reassured that your organization and the venue are taking all precautions.

One way to provide reassurance would be to interviews members who have already committed to attend. Maybe something they say will resonate with those on the fence.

To help those unable to attend in person, will you be offering expanded virtual offerings? Be sure that everyone throughout your industry knows about these opportunities to connect remotely.

Another thing to consider:  will your event be the first “post-COVID-19” event in your industry? If so, consider inviting your partners and other organizations to participate in some way. If their event was cancelled, they may be interested in co-locating opportunities.

Going Virtual-Only?

Has your organization made the decision to move an in-person conference or event to virtual-only? Don’t overlook opportunities for marketing and communication methods that can enhance the event, help attendees connect with exhibitors and raise awareness about the offerings.

Sharing Ideas

Keep in mind that digital marketing can be cost-effective while also generating non-dues revenue. And because the price-points are low, your exhibitors will find these opportunities to be budget-friendly.

Recognize what works for one organization may not work for another, and it may be too soon to fully prepare for every contingency.

If any of these ideas may work for you, or have identified something that you need assistance with, please do not hesitate to contact CustomNEWS, – we are here to help!

Since joining the CustomNEWS team in 2001, Jenn Waters has managed hundreds of show daily projects. She enjoys working with clients to create print and digital publications that both add value for both attendees and exhibitors, and add to an organization’s bottom line.

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