If you follow the news - you will be aware that the Government has announced that at peak impact, as much as 20% of the UK population could be impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak. The new James Bond movie release has been postponed until November; some governments are mandating that events larger than 1,000 delegates are banned; and various sporting events are already being postponed and cancelled with a decision on the Japan Olympics due later this month.
Live Events have become a huge part of Publisher and Media Revenues, and companies are likely to see lower attendance in the wake of Coronavirus and many may need to be postponed, cancelled or reformatted! There is though a great opportunity to add more value online than ever before both for sponsors and exhibitors, and for delegates.
Leveraging online directories (company, professional, product, networking), webinars, discussion and collaborative spaces for exhibitors and attendees to connect and interact. All Media companies have the opportunity to fine-tune their offerings over the coming months as many companies and individuals will decide to stay away from in-person events as a precautionary measure.
Key to the viability of an event is the ability for someone to attend and interact / communicate to some degree. In mapping out a live event experience you can make use of a number of online staples to recreate the key parts of the experience.
Events tend to be largely one of two types in this context - the mass audience showcase events - say like Apple’s forthcoming WWDC. There are already rumours circulating that Apple will rely on Apple TV and its online broadcast tools for its Keynote addresses as it will not want to put its staff or customers at risk of contamination, and Google has already cancelled its upcoming event. Apple can rely on a more straightforward one-way communication - where other events may be more Webinar in structure - with Q&A sessions and therefore 2-way text and audio dialogues.
In terms of the more Exhibition / Trade Show style of events there is much that can already be done with digital platform technologies - like the Affino Unified Business Platform. You can make use of Online Directories as virtual booths - loaded with appropriate collateral and take-aways. There needs to be a facility for virtual show attendees to reach out to exhibitors and engage in dialogue - much as you would expect to do at a physical event. There are several advantages in doing your events online - including simple lead generation and capture, with a saved repository of customer dialogues for further ongoing targeting.
The trick is to make things feel as live and immediate as they would in the physical world - which requires careful coordination and curation - but is doable with webinars, seminars, message boards and longer-term collaborative spaces. Affino gives you the facility to target all those areas - but you will need to design and structure them in such a fashion as to have a degree of immediacy and compelling appeal, and crucially they have to be actively managed. As an event organisation you are always going to be at the heart of your event, and likewise need to be at the heart of your online community
A well executed digital interface lets your audience connect with your exhibitors so they can set appointments for meetups at the show for instance and the exhibitors could see what sort of demand and presence they ongoingly have at the show. The ability to have individual and company profiles, as well as directory entries where delegates can contact the exhibitors directly is key to replicating the in-person experience. Affino lets you set all of these up, and lets each community member tightly control who sees and can interact with them in the space.
There are three stages to Events Websites:
In the build-up you should be encouraging attendees to engage and plan their show visit - register attendance of stands/booths and break-out events - showcases, seminars, roundtables etc.
During the show you should have an ongoing feed of the live itinerary / time-table of happenings. And after the show you should have a series of follow-ups to communicate further progress made.
For many events the aftermath is key, as there are always product and service developments and news that make for excellent online currency.
As an additional option during this period, you can add more webinars, alongside video and audio content to be released during the course of the event. You can also run virtual events with live blogging, audio casts and if the resources allow live social video feeds.
Once the event is complete, all these resources can then be sliced and diced to produce a host of valuable YouTube or on-site video collateral, social outreach and sharing opportunities, and permanent community and directory spaces which you can then grow and leverage.
The companies and businesses that will continue to thrive are the ones that can best make use of and leverage their digital presence. There is so much that can be done with a decent Digital Platform like Affino - there’s no reason why digital / virtual events cannot become more commonplace and just as successful as the real-world physical events.
You can deploy all the same marketing tools and revenue streams - show, topic and theme sponsorship and advertising, masterclasses and showcases, seminars and roundtables. Talk to our experts on how best you can leverage your business in these challenging times - physical event postponement and cancellations can be an opportunity to open a new and growing source of digital revenues.