At the moment, the event industry is in an exceptional situation: the Corona pandemic has caused a ban of events. In order to flatten the curve of infections, countless events are postponed or canceled.
This is important and appropriate, and yet it is still a serious economic problem for the industry. Alternative formats are, therefore, all the more essential to avoid a complete shutdown. Can digital events be a solution here?
Events are platforms that bring people together. Where innovations are presented, networks maintained, trends developed, and knowledge exchanged. If no events take place, a gap remains. That's why we ask now: Are there alternatives to personal contact? Can we transform planned events into other formats? Can we turn analog events into digital events, thanks to digitalization and new technologies? And above all: How do we stay in touch with each other?
The good news is: the industry is prepared and is not starting from scratch. Digitalization is a well-established and lasting trend in the event industry. In 2017 already, 75% of event organizers confirmed in a Xing study that digitalization would bring optimization of their event management processes. Even though we have rarely hosted purely digital events in the past, many of the tools we use to organize events are now digital. In essence, digital guest management makes it easier to register guests, digital ticketing gives attendees maximum flexibility, and event apps help visitors plan and orientation. Also, live broadcasts extend the reach of messages, and webinars deepen knowledge without location restrictions.
So far, such tools have been components with which we accompany and support analog events. In times like these, they can compensate and form the infrastructure for digital events and alternative formats.
Of course, such a shift to the digital space is not suitable for every event format, but events that focus on information and networking are especially advantageous here. Shared information exchange is in the foreground. Events such as staff training, workshops, or panel talks can, therefore, be relocated relatively easily into a virtual space. But what does this look like? What resources do we need for digital events?
You present the contents and goals of the course on a landing page and also enable registration for the course. Once your participants have registered, they will receive their course material by email. Additional videos can be made available via the landing page, and with a survey tool, you can ask for mood pictures and the new knowledge. In addition, discussion groups can be created on your social media channels, allowing participants to exchange information directly with each other. This is how quickly your employee training courses become digital events.
You have been able to win top-class experts for a panel discussion, and now the event is canceled? Move the debate into a virtual room, let the experts discuss and stream the debate live as a digital event for your audience via Facebook, YouTube, your website, or other platforms. Invite your audience to digital events and make them easily accessible. Chat functions enable exchange and questions to the experts. Live streams are digital events par excellence.
So simple and so reliable. In an email, you can address each recipient personally. Constant communication and transparency are essential, even if it is still unclear how to proceed. Depending on the format of the event, you can also communicate its contents in this way. Email communication allows you to stay in contact and spread your messages quickly and easily. You have a direct line to your audience and can react flexibly to questions and changes in the situation.
Even if the atmosphere of live events and personal contacts are unique, digital technologies can help us to cope with the current situation. For a - hopefully short - time, events are shifting to the digital space. They can provide innovations here so that we can expect an even stronger fusion of analog and digital in the field of the event industry in the future. Digital events and alternative communication strategies can now ensure continuous contact, which we can continue in analog as soon as the situation allows it again.