Question of the Day: How Has the Pandemic Forever Changed Events? 

CL22 attendees tell us how COVID-19 has altered their events and the industry overall.

Author: Ascend Media       

CL22 Strategies for Building Business Event Resiliency

Heidi Voorhees Haneberg (right), MBA, CAE, SVP of strategic projects at MCI USA, leads an education session, “7 Strategies for Building Business Event Resiliency,” on Jan.9 as Convening Leaders 2022 got underway. (Jacob Slaton Photography)

Each day at CL22, we’ll be asking a handful of participants to respond to a question to get a better sense of what’s on attendees’ minds as they meet in person this week. On Sunday, we asked, “How has the pandemic forever changed your event, or events in general?

People don’t know what they miss until it is gone. We are hyperaware of the need to be face to face and the importance of it. We also now need to be aware of our attendees’ comfort levels of being in the physical environment. As a planner, I have to have signage addressing masks and hand sanitizer to make them more comfortable.”

Sally Bedwell, CMP, International Fresh Produce Association

Expect the unexpected. There is not one straight path forward anymore. You have to do what is best for your event and group.”

Leah Johnson, CMP, DES, American Dental Hygienists’ Association

I have doubled — no, tripled — the number of virtual events in order to deliver the level of education needed. The virtual events counteract the fear of meeting face to face.”

Kat Ort Ely, DES, National Council of Structural Engineers Associations

We are permanently aware of the fragility of everything, thanks to the pandemic. At any given moment, 50 percent of your attendees could decide not to attend. We are getting more comfortable with hybrid events, but we are not there yet. We as human beings have become very aware that business is not done on computers only. You have to have the opportunity to see each other face to face, have drinks, or share in person. Sponsors of our events have changed as well. They look for the physical events because the virtual events do not pay.”

Elizabeth Tovar, DES, CASE, CIS, CMM, CMS, COCAL

Not getting too comfortable in how things are done in the event space. The pandemic has tested us. I think we have done a wonderful job of adapting to a virtual presence. We have been able to reach our audiences and even reached new communities. It has been good in that regard.”

Sam Durnil, Solution Tree

More of a focus on person to person at the actual event. The pandemic has actually had a positive effect on our event. We found the breakout sessions work better in the virtual environment. Moving forward, we are pre-recording the breakouts and releasing them as library in advance. Then people can focus on each other at the events.”

Scott Marko, CMP, Society of Plastics Engineers