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association conferences

The ‘New Normal’: 3 Tips for Resuming In-Person Events in a Post-COVID19 World

By Association Non-Dues Revenue, Expo Sales, Sponsorship Sales No Comments

It’s no secret that the novel Coronavirus has changed the face of the event marketing industry both in 2020 and, potentially, for years to come.

But as with many other facets of our daily life, the industry’s future success hinges on how well it adapts to the “new normal” created by the pandemic. The appetite still exists for in-person events; a recent study by TradeShowLogic found that just 14% of respondents do not see themselves attending and/or exhibiting at one or more in-person trade shows or conferences over the next year.

So with that in mind, how can your association best plan for its remaining 2020 (and upcoming 2021) in-person conferences so they both create revenue and protect the health and safety of all those involved? Below are some suggestions we’re using with our clients to help them prepare for their upcoming in-person events.

 

Bigger is Better

Given the CDC’s recommendation for six-foot spacing, one of the easiest ways to adapt is by increasing the amount of open space throughout your conference. In exhibit halls, this can be as simple as widening the aisles between booths, as well as setting up a one-way traffic flow to keep people as distanced as possible. Some clients are even limiting the number of people allowed in each room by reducing the number of entrances/exits and using tally counters.

Should you find yourself needing to redesign your exhibit hall’s floorplan to accommodate for better social distancing measures, there are several tools you can use (including this one from Allseated) that account for local and state guidelines.

 

Additional Sponsorship Opportunities

While the removal of exhibit booths to comply with social distancing measures may impact your overall profit margins, opportunities exist for you to make up a sizeable amount of that revenue through one-off sponsorship opportunities related to the pandemic.

Why not let sponsors pay for cloth facemasks that can be distributed at the start of the conference to all attendees? You can have either a single sponsor foot the bill for the masks, or have multiple vendors chip in, with the size of their logos on the mask determined by that company’s contribution amount. Sponsors can also pay for travel-sized bottles of hand sanitizer or facial tissues to be distributed on-site, as well as stand-alone hand sanitizer and water stations.

You can also have sponsors pay for the additional signage needed to enforce the additional safety measures, provided their logo appears prominently on the signs.

 

Increased Digital Presence

These days, most major conferences use an online platform like eShow or Cvent to help manage the logistics of their event. Many of these programs already offer solutions that can help minimize the need for contact at conferences and trade shows, including but not limited to:

  • QR codes on conference badges: By printing a QR code that links to the attendee’s profile from your event’s main database on every conference badge, exhibitors and attendees alike can easily trade information with one another without making contact with one another. As an added bonus, exhibitors can use the QR codes to enter attendees into raffles or send follow-up emails with brochures and other information about their products and services – making the event paperless and environmentally friendly.
  • RFID tag in conference badges: If you’re worried about crowd control at your event, consider adding a RFID tag to your conference badges. While costly, the tags will allow you to track your attendees – making it easier to focus on crowd control efforts.
  • Virtual Swag Bags: Rather than distribute collateral on-site, why not send all of your attendees a “virtual swag bag” filled with sponsor-provided content. This can be a video demonstration of their product or service, PDF brochures about their company, or even coupons for future purchases. Plus, by having sponsors pay for the content inside the bag, the cost to you is minimal.

 

What is your association doing to adapt to the changes created by the coronavirus pandemic? Have any of the above solutions worked for you? Do you have any suggestions you’d like to add? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.  

Don Shula – My Opportunity to Spend Time with a Legend

By Uncategorized No Comments

Success is not forever and failure isn’t fatal.”

– Don Shula

 

Legendary Coach Don Shula passed away at 90 years old earlier this week. After a fine playing career in the 1950s, at 33 years old he was named head coach of the Baltimore Colts – the youngest in NFL history at the time. He went on to win more games than any coach in the league’s history – 347 victories in all over both regular season and playoffs – including six appearances and two Super Bowl championships. His storied 1972 Miami Dolphins championship squad is still the only team in NFL history to go undefeated through an entire season.

I once had the privilege and opportunity of spending about 90 minutes – mostly one on one, with the great man. He was the Keynote Speaker at an association annual conference in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay in 2008. The Coach was staying at the other tower (and my association client’s staff was almost all non-sports fans, as my luck would have it). That morning at their staff meeting, a scheduling challenge was announced, and they asked if anyone would volunteer to personally go to the Coach’s hotel room, and escort him from there, across the casino to the Convention area, and all the way to the green room. Not being officially on staff, I waited for a second or two.

Then I jumped up.

At his hotel room, he was deciding on a tie. He held two up to his shirt, but he had the look that said he did not want to wear one. He asked me if most of the men in the conference wore ties? Even though it was probably 70% yes, I told him it was “50/50”. He left both ties on his bed, going with just a sports jacket. I told the Coach what he wanted to hear.

Coach Shula was 78 and had a bad hip, so the walk took 30 minutes with two or three sit-down breaks. During the walk, he began to share stories with me. What struck me most along with his unpretentiousness was his humanity and grace.

We arrived at the greenroom and had plenty of time to kill, so I stayed with him. He continued sharing stories and let me ask him anything that came to mind about the NFL, Baltimore Colts (as a player and as the coach), the Dolphins, childhood idols Bob Griese and Larry Csonka, quarterbacks in general, the ’83 draft, Dan Marino-John Elway (he said Elway was the best ever, better even than Dan because of his legs…), Jimmy Johnson (his successor as Dolphins coach, he was candid but kind). He demonstrated great pride mixed with humility.

 

Coach Shula & Pat Wilson

 

With Coach Shula’s passing, it occurred to me how fortunate I was to be in the right place at the right time that day. An unmitigated honor and a great memory – the chance to spend time with a true legend, who also happened to be a very nice man.

 

You take on what’s right in front of you. You want to do the best you can with the opportunities that you have.”

–  Don Shula