The event industry may be seeing a bit of progress in terms of more events turning to virtual platforms instead of flat out cancelling, but Alberta, with the recent change to go back to Step 1 may have another hold placed on events.
Step 2 of “A Path Forward” plan was executed March 8th, which included re-opening of specific businesses with restrictions in place, but the plan was changed on April 6th, backwards into Step 1 again. For all the Alberta Government Guidance and Restrictions, please refer to their website.
While the entire province has been at a standstill in terms of re-opening businesses and getting back to ‘2019 normal’, the event industry is finally seeing an upturn of trust in virtual platforms. Since the one-year anniversary of COVID-19, more and more event planners are realizing they have to gain proficiency in the virtual world and be able to transform their clients’ dreams of a once in-person event into a digital replication.
Event MB, the world’s most respected online resource for event professionals, sees a great future for hybrid events, saying:
“The past year has had a massive impact on the events industry, the full extent of which still remains to be seen. Overall, tech providers are optimistic about the future of the market and are continuing to invest in both virtual and hybrid offerings, as well as tools to ensure a safe return to onsite events.
Ultimately, it will be up to attendees to decide which format they prefer and are willing to devote their time to, which will inevitably impact future business decisions and tech adoption.”
We are happy to say that we have seen living proof of more virtual events and even hybrid events in action. While this is great news, and inevitably seems like a breakthrough, we still walk a tightrope of ongoing challenges. We know that it is one thing to learn more about our virtual environment, but it is a completely different thing to run a hybrid event during a pandemic.
Every client needs to understand the risk of a hybrid event and the negative impact it could have on an organizations brand if an outbreak were to happen at an event they were associated with. It is also essential to have COVID-19 check points, risk assessment planning, and scenario planning in place for your hybrid events, which can be very time consuming, but cannot be overlooked.
Tycoon knows first-hand how much flexibility and planning is required for these unprecedented and ever-changing times. Having spent the last year and half working on The Wellness Summit, the event has pivoted from live to virtual, to hybrid and back to virtual many times. Now that we’re two weeks out from the event we are making our final pivot to an entirely virtual event. Proper scenario and contingency planning has ensured we’re all set up for success to maneuver as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
Virtual events are the way of the inevitable future; however, Event MB does caution that “30 percent of planners are still struggling to make a profit with virtual events, and only 60 percent of respondents indicated that they plan to go virtual with their next event”, according to a recent survey in their report. Meaning that our industry is still suffering and will continue to struggle if in-person events fail to come back soon.
Looking to the industry leaders for their response to the current event situation, there is a craving for face-to-face interaction without screen interference. Many ILEA chapters are hosting in-person events – with government restrictions in place – to accommodate the need for fresh air, catching up and learning from each other. ILEA Edmonton, for example, recently hosted an outdoor event at Hawrelak Park with social distancing, mask wearing, and groups limited to 10 people.
On the other hand, MPI is hosting their virtual Global Meetings Industry Day today. This day is a “free, 12-hour live broadcast featuring education and activities worth 12 clock hours!” If you are interested, you can register for the broadcast at mpi.org/events/gmid21.
Unfortunately, our province is seeing a rise in COVID-19 and variant cases; other provinces have been shutting down for three-week ‘circuit breakers’, and Alberta may not be far behind if things do not change with Step 1 soon. So, we will continue to up our virtual platform knowledge, advocate for in-person events, and most importantly, continue to move forward by practicing safety first and foremost for safe gatherings!
– Your Tycoon, Stephani XO
Additional event reference resources:
- Alberta Live Events Coalition
- Government of Canada Risk Mitigation for Events
- City of Edmonton COVID 19 Updates
- City of Edmonton Support for Businesses (including available economic recovery grants)
- Alberta Biz Connect for support of small/medium businesses
- Explore Edmonton Guidance for Meeting Planners during COVID-19
- Meetings Mean Business Canada