2020 was certainly not the year any of us envisioned!
BESTAgency started off strong, with birthday parties, charity galas, holiday events, photo shoots, and even a basketball tournament. Then, when the world turned upside down, our talented team quickly pivoted as everyone was forced to stay at home and MASKUP. We worked with production teams to produce virtual fundraisers and variety shows. Our models worked in masks and followed all social-distance guidelines. We decorated, and then decorated some more for Halloween. And our always willing and capable talent assisted with Covid Testing sites across Las Vegas. We may have missed our “usual” events but are proud of the work we were able to accomplish in 2020!
2021 is sure to be another unprecedented year, but BESTAgency is here to help you navigate it. We will walk beside you to plan your event, gala, fundraiser and more ensuring all guidelines are followed, attendees are engaged, and expectations are met.
WHAT TO EXPECT FOR 2021
Unprecedented circumstances related to COVID-19 forced the event industry to pause, pivot, and make remarkable changes in 2020 and we can expect 2021 to be a year of rebuilding. In 2020, 59% of events were cancelled completely, and 26% were rescheduled to later this year. At the beginning of 2020, virtual events were not on anyone’s radar. Now, it is safe to say, virtual events are here to stay (at least in some form). Most marketers, business executives and event planners believe that in-person events are the most critical marketing channel to achieving business and non-profit goals (according to Bizzabo).
It is hard to know what to expect day-to-day, yet alone to forecast months in the future, but we are hopeful that we can begin to plan in-person events again soon. With the rise of virtual events—and virtual event technology in 2020—they are not going anywhere for now. Virtual events can reach a wider audience than in-person events; however, as people are craving human interaction and contact, live events are not gone forever. A hybrid solution that can manage both virtual and in-person events will play a key role in 2021 event strategies.
Event experience is the focus for most event planners which has become especially difficult given the mass transition to virtual and hybrid events. The planner must recognize early on that there are two events in one—virtual and in-person. Both audiences want a fantastic experience—to be able to connect with others, to hear speakers and see entertainment presented live—but you must approach each audience separately while bringing them together in one space as much as possible. Plus, staying up-to-date on safety guidelines adds an extra layer of complexity.
After months of sensory deprivation, virtual and live attendees will need more entertainment. The glitzy part of experience design—the big shows and incredible decor—will be very important. You need to create a sense of FOMO for each audience. If you invest in the right technology, the right speakers, the right entertainment for your company and brand, your audience will know that this experience is being curated just for them. The best event designs play into our sense of belonging. People want to be missed when they’re not able to attend.
With one audience traveling to a location, and one audience watching from their couch, event planners need to rethink the overall event design from the core—just because something worked in the past does not mean it will work in 2021.
Attendees will crave networking—CONNECTING! For the in-person audience, how you facilitate this will be important, knowing that plexi glass and face masks will likely be around for a while. For the virtual audience, there is new event technology being introduced every day.
For your virtual audience, use the features of your digital platform. Have someone designated to monitor the Q&A and encourage your audience to use it. This helps the audience at home connect to the speaker and live-audience and feel like they are a part of the event.
To further engage both audience segments, consider adding fitness and meditation, an art class, or even a “make your own cocktail session” to your event schedule. You do not want your virtual audience to feel stuck in their chair or fall asleep in the middle of a presentation. Encourage movement through chair stretches and dance parties. Start each day with a mindful minute. Remind viewers to drink water—drinking enough can improve focus, increase alertness, and improve reaction times and attention span.
3). SAFETY FIRST
An in-person event needs to observe maximum Covid health and safety precautions, but with the ever-changing regulations we will be relying heavily on virtual event engagement for the bulk of 2021. The biggest obstacle to planning in-person events will be safety concerns both at the event and traveling to the event location. Events cannot afford to become super-spreaders; therefore, they will be built on health and safety.
The following safety measures will be standard protocol for the foreseeable future but check your local guidelines for any additional requirements.
-Social distancing at all times, especially indoors.
-Mask wearing at all times.
-Temperature scans upon entrance.
-Seated, socially distanced, and potentially staggered mealtimes.
-Sanitation and separation by plexiglass and other types of dividing materials.
-The use of Safety Agents to direct attendees and force compliance with the rules at all times.
Events that have these items in place will have an advantage compared to those that do not. Another key component is a system for tracking whoever attends the events and being able to inform them if an outbreak is reported. With the right safety measures, your guests will be confident to attend your event in person.
A venue shapes the event and may even be one of the deciding factors as to whether someone attends the event or not. “Virtual venues” are popping up around the country (and BESTAgency is a partner with one here in Las Vegas). These fully equipped production and broadcast studios facilitate webcasting and virtual event design. They provide a high production value for virtual and hybrid events, creating memorable and engaging online content. Our venue offers a large, customizable LED screen, a physical stage, intelligent lighting, and an onsite production team to oversee every part of the event broadcast.
Events live, prosper, and reproduce on social media, so the more wonderful the venue, the more shareable it is online and that brings profile, awareness and FOMO for people who aren’t attending in person. Crucially, it also brings stimulation, excitement, and energy. All of these elements are particularly important for hybrid events, as planners will need to find ways to entice the audience to attend in person.
At the end of the day, hybrid events are here to stay. They can reach a broader audience but do possess the challenge of working with two different segments. Think of hybrid events more like a TV show—live speakers or performers, a strong tech infrastructure, and a competitive production quality—where some audience members are sitting in the studio, and some watching a screen at home where they can hear (and maybe see) the in-studio audience.
The BESTAgency event team is here to help you plan your virtual, hybrid, or live (50 person or less in Las Vegas at the time this blog is posted) event around the country. BESTAgency can source your virtual speakers and emcee, entertainment ranging from musicians and comedians to variety acts, and interactive sessions like cocktail classes and fitness breaks. We can provide the decor to make your in-person audience immersed in the event, and the technical features to keep your at-home audience engaged. Our team is here to design an amazing experience for both audience segments.
We will ensure that your virtual, hybrid and live events will be a wonderful experience for your audience, keep everyone engaged in the event, ensure that the in-person audience is safe and comfortable, and that the selected venue is appropriate to house the event of your dreams. Our motto is, “If you can dream it, we can make it happen,” and we are ready to move forward with events in 2021!
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