Bringing events back with a bang!
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s post Covid trial at The London Palladium appears to have reiterated one of the biggest challenges that will be faced in getting events back on track; creating atmosphere.
Whilst the tone of a B2B event is somewhat different to a live performance by Beverley Knight, the increasing crossover and consolidation of our work and personal lives (hugely amplified by inviting colleagues in to our homes via Zoom), means that attendees expect more from ‘a work event’ than they would have 5 years ago.
They attend as consumers; drinking in the brand and all experiences served up to them, and if the atmosphere is flat, no amount of great content or exhibitor connections will override this as being their takeaway feeling. Leaving the house post Covid is an undertaking, it is a potential risk and something which is definitely more of a decision than it was back in February. So the potential for disappointment and anti-climax is even greater.
With all of this in mind, I’ve been brainstorming some ways to create lively and engaging environments that will distract from some of the more sterile post Covid measures, whilst still keeping everyone safe.
1. Check in queue entertainment; magician, musician, iPad caricaturist, dancers
It took 45 minutes to process members of Parliament for their first socially distanced vote, we can all agree they probably would have been a lot happier if they’d been entertained as they queued. This one is a double win as it also helps to create more job opportunities for the performers who have been hit especially hard during this time.
2. Get your blooms on; bedeck your event with greenery and flowers
Whilst this has traditionally been seen as a nice to have, not a necessity for most events I’ve worked on, a post Covid set up seems to be crying out for a bit of colour and nature.
Tricky to clean soft furnishings will be pretty much out the window now, so flowers and greenery will add a vibrancy and softness to your event décor and can also create some natural barriers to help with social distancing, without an army of prespex screens. You need the real thing mind, don’t anger the H&S team by using plastic floral fire hazards.
3. Music maestro; takeover that tannoy
A carefully crafted playlist of appropriate background music can help to set the tone of the event and be tailored to suit the mood for different times of day. Avoid drowning out on-stand demos or pitches by keeping the overall volume low and adding extra speakers at the entrance, bars and cafes.
Word of warning – don’t just use one of the team’s iPod on shuffle. Flashback to ‘It’s Business Time’ by Flight of the Conchords belting out over the tannoy at Olympia and many bemused looking visitors.
4. Use colour; be bold and playful
There is a reason that the rainbow was chosen as the symbol of hope for the NHS. Colour is very closely linked to emotion and can have a transformational effect on our mood.
Bringing in colour to your signage and décor will add interest and inject some energy into the event. Bright colour carpets are actively encouraged. Let’s see if we can consign grey gangways to 2019.
5. Staff up; we’ve all been missing that personal connection
The natural response to a socially distanced event might be to limit the number of non-essential faces on the showfloor. But, if maintaining proper social distancing and keeping up with government guidelines, actual in the flesh humans (remember them?) are going to be the best way of helping encourage any one-way systems or required behaviours once onsite.
A friendly face to greet arrivals, confidently answer questions about the event or Covid precautions, and bid visitors a fond farewell at the end of the day will be priceless to reassure them of their safety and importance as an attendee.
If you arranging events and need help introducing any of the above ideas to your set up; from supplier recommendations and sourcing, to more practical assistance with design and layout please feel free to get in touch- firstname.lastname@example.org