Postponing vs cancelling (Part I - Inputs from our online community)

 
WHAT CAN ORGANISERS DO NOW TO IMPROVE THE SUCCESS OF A POSTPONED CONFERENCE OR EVENT?
 
Several meeting professionals are sharing their ideas what organisers, venues and suppliers can do to stimulate postponing events and avoid cancellations.
See their inputs in this overview collected by Maarten Vanneste:
 
Dominic De Gruyter, Belgium
Multi hub, get a copy of the book Multi-Hub Meetings and learn all about this groups format ideal for a crisis with travel limitations. See more  https://www.meetingdesigninstitute.org/multi-hub-meetings
 

Timo Kiuru, Finland

Be digital + experiential = digiperiential. Not making a decision between having a) an event or b) a virtual event but having an ecosystem of digital and physical experiences.

The target group, the objective and the purpose of the project won’t change, event professionals just need to think about how to orchestrate experiences differently. A crisis is often a good driver of creativity.

Cancelling is the easiest solution but may not be the most effective since there’s less noise out there right now.

For example: Ask the keynote speakers to do a live stream first to gather people digitally and give people homework after each speech. When people are able to gather again and meet face to face, then go through the insights, learnings and action points collectively as a group + bring out the biggest speaker as a surprise.

OR

Organize the whole event so that everyone is at home. The audience, the moderators, the organizers and the speakers - everyone. Make sure people learn to know each other digitally better than ever before so when they finally meet face to face they feel like they are brothers and sisters.

The key thing is: organize connections, not meeting. Eventually, we’ll go back to meeting face to face. It’s what life is all about.

Cyril Racchetta, Switzerland

Think of how you keep the community remotely engaged between now and the postponed event; how you can repurpose what was developed for the initial event; don’t forget, your postponed event is NOT a copy-paste of the initial event, go back to the drawing board and design a brand new meeting (your objectives will probably have changed in between), why not virtual or multi-hub (nobody knows what the status of the epidemic will be at the time of your postponed event). 

 

Adam Fillary, UK

Focus on helping them with their business challenges. By creating feedback and open up the problems the community has.. solutions to be crowdsourced. You might find that people will double down and there will be more purpose to do more business upon the return of any event cancelled or postponed. Everyone should be eager to get back into the game. 

Joyce Paschall, Illinois, USA

Similar to comments others have made, I'd say to stay in touch with the stakeholders. Invite new presentations on timely topics, if applicable, to add to the program; remote record and/or stream or otherwise capture pieces of the planned content and get it out to the audience, especially those who had already registered but also to those you'd be still marketing to with "register now" messages. Communicate with exhibitors/sponsors, whatever type of supporters you have, with content and if you can come up with some new way to connect them to registrants, do so. Obviously don't annoy with too much too fast, and short, pithy messages can suffice much of the time. In the medical/scientific realm, this can be focused on the idea of sharing the research, science, data. In others, it may be more about the in-person connection with peers. (But really, all meetings are that mysterious blend of both, which is what makes a live business event so miraculous and irreplaceable by remote tech...it's the shared human experience!). Summary: STAYING IN TOUCH, meaningfully, seems like the best path to me. 

 

Bjorn Wigforss, Finland

Postpone iteratively, meaning that the whole ecosystem (venues, agencies, buyers/organizers, etc.) build in flexibility so that timing is perfect: as soon as the worst is over we get back to business as usual. Governments: Support the companies by for instance delaying taxes or supporting with financing during the silent period. 

 

Jan Jaap Id Maur, The Netherlands

Make all those who were supposed to attend part of the renewed preparation.
Have speakers give summaries of their planned speeches, so participants can start discussing online for questions, solutions etc.

Have speakers do online sessions. Or organise online debate groups with participants. Or combine both.

Send out research questions to participants. Maybe have them address those in small groups (online or live)

Have them send in personal stories in relation to the topic. And use those when the event takes place. 

 

Helena Wallo, Finland

Postponed event: use this period to active participants to get tips from the content of the event: short videos, white papers, info-graphs and create teams to start discussions with Teams or other tools. You can also use gamification for this... Use moderated discussions online...Eventex is a great example ... prize ceremony, creative week everything is online. 


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