Before Covid kicked in, professionals across the globe developed a taste for business travel. Navigating from one country to another, they would attend networking event after networking event to meet new people and elevate business ideas. It was a good life.
Then the pandemic temporarily halted many aspects of the travel industry, including business travel and everything it entailed. That disrupted conference plans globally, bringing just about every event to a screeching halt.
Mingling at conferences and events with people from the other side of the globe isn’t an option at the moment. But as they say, the show must go on. Whether you’re a travel brand that hosts events, attends them regularly, or specialise in travel-event packages, this article is for you.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to organise events for your travel brand during and after Covid. 🙌
Organising events during Covid
There are no prizes for guessing how events take place during the pandemic. Everything, of course, has moved online, and “virtual” is the new buzzword. While there are valid arguments about the authenticity of hosting events online, right now, it’s the only option. Fortunately, there are ways to maximise them and ensure everyone attending has a positive experience.
Encourage inclusivity 🧍🧍🧍
Online events don’t quite offer the same connections that you find in real life, so it’s important to make sure that virtual attendees feel involved. That means personalising the events and considering offering segments for smaller groups within a larger virtual event.
Have break-off rooms where smaller groups can interact and learn from each other via separate invites. This is especially helpful for any event where the overall attendance is high. You want to keep everyone’s attention, and focusing on an inclusive event that values all attendees is a great way to start.
Don’t simply follow the flow of every other online event, as you’ll struggle to engage with your audience from the start – especially if they regularly attend lots of virtual conferences. Think of ways to provide a unique experience, and don’t be afraid to flex your creative chops. Lead from the front and lean into audience insights to improve the event schedule.
If your event is travel-led, think about including themes that will get us excited about travelling again. Whether you’re talking about how flexible travel payments can improve the industry or hosting speakers who are experts in travel innovation, the travel-led theme is a great way to get people excited and thinking about the bigger picture.
Find the right time 📅
Timing is everything with a virtual event. While travel professionals might be better than most at adapting to new time zones, you’ll still want to find a sweet spot that serves all the countries attending if you have international invites.
The event’s length is also important, as it’s harder for people to stay engaged when they’re in a different location. An hour is probably the sweet spot. Anything longer, and people might find that their concentration levels begin to drop.
Organising events post-Covid
Right now, the travel event landscape might be rooted in virtual gatherings, but things will change post-Covid. And yet, getting hundreds and thousands of people all under one roof will require plenty of preparation to ensure a smooth and safe event or conference.
Social distancing 😷
Even with the vaccine rollout, it looks like some form of social distancing will be in play for a while. The result will be larger venues and fewer attendees, probably in some form of a physical-virtual hybrid where a selection of attendees view online and the rest in person.
You’ll need to think about how people move around the space, putting safe procedures in place that minimise close interaction. Should you implement a one-way system? How do you control queues to enter? There’s a lot to unpack when you start hosting travel events again in the wake of Covid.
Food & drink hygiene
Catering has always played a vital role in successful events, but the situation will be a tricky one post-Covid. Self-service buffets probably won’t make a return for a while yet, as they’re deemed too risky, with multiple people likely to touch the same surfaces.
Another option is food and drinks served to attendees, though that still poses its complications. It could also be considerably more expensive, as you’re providing a personalised food service. Then you have the issue with cutlery, which should be disposable but ideally not detrimental to the environment.
It’s all about the trust factor post-Covid, with event attendees seeking reassurance that you’re putting on a safe and hygienic event that minimises any Covid-related dangers. Cleaning and hand-sanitising stations should be visible throughout the entire event space, while signage with clear instructions will also be necessary.
Everything will need to be to the highest standard behind the scenes, with extra measures put in place to ensure regular cleaning happens throughout the event. High-traffic areas during the event will also need to be regularly wiped down.
Hosting five-star events, both online and in-person ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
There are some fantastic travel events scheduled to occur both virtually and hopefully physically by the end of the year. These include The Business Travel Show, Travel Technology Europe and The Hotel Show.
Whether you’re planning on attending one of them or will host your own events in the near future, it’s good to be prepared for what to expect. And hopefully, it won’t be too long until we can all meet up and network in-person to help drive the travel industry forward.
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