Having a plan amid chaos helps soothe yourself, your attendees, your sponsors, and your stakeholders. From natural disasters to global pandemics, event professionals have learned that being fluid does not just mean having a contingency plan for a speaker cancellation. Meeting planners have long since been revered for their quick thinking and problem-solving skills, but sometimes even the experts need a little help!
Here are the top 5 things you can do to prepare your event for the worst:
1. Have a team that solves problems, not creates more of them.
The team and partners you choose to work with during your events matters! Whether it’s completely internal or outsourced, it’s important to know how they’ll work in an emergency. If a speaker cancels, you want a team that understands that panicking won’t solve the issue. A team and partner who are able to come to the table with a solve-first attitude will drive your event to success!
In a disaster situation, it’s also important to know which partners will stand by you if you need to fully cancel the event. If you’re unable to pivot to virtual due to unforeseen circumstances, find a partner and team who support the choice in (hopefully) rescheduling the event, and, in the worst-case scenario, cancel it completely. Often, with partner services, outsourcing, and venues, you will have to put in a down payment for services. Check the cancellation and rescheduling policy! Your company’s insurance may be of help here, as well.
2. Have a backup plan for your backup plan.
Plan A is amazing! In an ideal world, Plan A is what happens and has every single event detail planned from pre-event to post-event follow-up. But Plan A doesn’t always happen, though, and you need to head to your Plan B. Having a live event? Make sure you give yourself time to switch to virtual under short notice, if necessary. Speaker can't make it? Have a bench of speakers to pull from, or some pre-recorded content.
Make sure your Plan B (and all the way to Plan Z) are solid. You won’t want to fall to them, but you’ll be remiss if you need them when you don’t have them.
3. Communicate clearly with your attendees every step of the way.
Pre-event communication through your event website and marketing provides your attendees with a secure knowledge base. Social media is a good way to distribute basic knowledge about the event, but don’t forget the power of email marketing for event communication. Your attendees shouldn’t have any questions about the onsite registration process, safety protocols, or session information. Your communication sets the tone for the event and gives your attendees confidence when registering. For any other questions that don’t warrant an email communication, having a Frequently Asked Questions page on your event website also builds confidence!
For onsite attendees, push notifications before, during, and after, will give your attendees peace of mind through the entire process. Before your event, build confidence with a push notification to remind your attendee of their onsite check-in time and how health screenings work. During your event, your attendees should expect a push notification about sessions and speakers they’ve added to their agenda, with proper information if that speaker needed to cancel or that session’s time was changed. After the event, devise a push notification to inform attendees how to keep in touch with your event community and how long sessions will be available for on demand.
Communication builds trust. The more information that you can provide, the better. Attendees generally complain when they’ve been given no information, not when they’ve been given too much.
4. Run a risk assessment.
A risk assessment is a process to identify potential hazards at any given event. While you're planning Plans A through Z, never go into the plans without assessing the risk based on attendee demographics and the venue of choice. A risk assessment helps you and your team understand the most significant risks and how to mitigate them. If your event is located indoors during a resurgence of a global pandemic, your team may want to create a plan for how health screenings will be handled, whether you will be mandating vaccinations and proof of vaccination, and the terminology you will use when disseminating this information.
A risk assessment will allow your team to pivot naturally in any given situation.
5. Most importantly: make sure your event tech works!
One of the biggest challenges meeting professionals face is that their event tech cannot make a smooth pivot to a fully virtual event. Even when hosting an in-person only event, your onsite tech should be able to transfer over to fully virtual, if necessary. A virtual event platform should have the capability to access your registrants, the attendee agendas, speaker profiles, and the multitude of other features that make a virtual platform successful (gamification options, live question & answer features, chats, direct messaging, and networking)!
How do you know if your event tech partner can handle a pivot? Ask them. Be sure to demo their virtual platform as well as their onsite tech. Ask how their tech can support an influx of attendees switching from live to virtual. Ask how their video streaming services work, and what engagement they provide for attendees. In order to keep your stakeholders and exhibitors happy, also be sure you know how their tech tracks session attendance and booth visits. All of these tech features should be included in your virtual event platform, whether you’re switching from a live event to a fully virtual event or a hybrid event to an all-virtual event.
At MeetingPlay, we hope that all your events go off without a hitch. When you work with MeetingPlay as your event tech partner, you’re choosing award-winning technology that works to be your Plan A through Plan Z, as well as a customer service team to assist with technical issues. Having to pivot a hybrid event to fully virtual shouldn’t be a reason to cancel! Find the right tech partner who knows how to assist you amidst the chaos. Demo our hybrid platform now. We’re more than your contingency plan, we’re a full-service event tech partner built with your event goals in mind.