Next week, HubSpot’s annual user conference, Inbound, will be virtual for the second year in a row. Yet, last month, Salesforce’s Dreamforce was hybrid, with attendees both IRL in San Francisco as well as digitally around the globe. And, from October 18-21, the Winmo team will be in New York for another hybrid show, Advertising Week 2021. Our first live event since the “before times.” Even with health and safety measures in place (you have to be vaccinated to even enter most public buildings in NYC), it’s still a confusing time. Are we ready for the return of industry events?
“Necessity is the mother of invention“
The events industry was hit hard in 2020 (though maybe travel, hospitality, and food service would all like the chance to fight for the top spot). Businesses, brands, and agencies adapted and found creative ways to present industry events virtually. However, no one thinks staring at a computer screen is the same as in-person experiences.
Luckily, we’ve evolved from total cancellation to digital, to hybrid events, which will probably continue into much of 2022. Personal safety concerns, venue capacity restrictions, and social distancing are the biggest challenges right now. And, in order to meet these challenges, organizations must invest a considerable amount of money into new protocols.
Even with changes and challenges, it’s not all bad news. People crave IRL experiences again. According to a recent survey by The Business Journals, 50% of national respondents said they are now ready to return to in-person events with proper Covid precautions. Another 21% said they’ll be ready in a month or two.
If half of us are ready for the return of industry events, how can we attend successfully and safely?
- Meet and connect with prospective customers – It’s been so long since sales professionals have been able to speak directly with leads and prospects. In-person meetings helps us more deeply understand others’ points of view.
- For more information on the importance of IRL interactions, check out this episode of the Distributed podcast. InVision CEO, Clark Valberg, discusses how we build mental models of the people we interact with.
- Learn what your competitors are up to – Keep your customers close and your competitors closer. Events are neutral ground to observe competitors their latest innovations, and which brands they work with (or hoping to work with).
- Reestablish brand identity – Trade shows and events provide visibility and credibility. Even if your organization forgoes a booth or speaking engagement, just attending and interacting with others is enough.
- Have a back-up plan – With the delta variant, a strong “plan B” can make or break your experience. If hosting a talk or panel, your speakers need to be trained and prepared to make the switch to virtual. If just attending, be sure your hotel and flight reservations can be canceled and refunded.
- Stay up to date with the CDC’s latest pandemic guidelines for travel and events.
- Be responsible and respectful – Our social cues are a little different these days. Some people still prefer an elbow bump to a handshake and wear their masks inside. Don’t assume anyone else is as comfortable returning to pre-pandemic norms as you. And keep the hand sanitizer at the ready.
Will you be at Advertising Week New York?
Join us at our Happy Hour with GumGum on Tuesday, October 19 from 6-9pm ET ($20 or ask your Winmo representative for an invite code). And add our session to your schedule, How Digitally Native Brands Are Evolving at the Speed of Customers, on Thursday, October 21, at 12pm ET. See details below!