Author: Bill McGlade
The hospitality industry was rocked hard by COVID-19, with in-person events grinding to a complete stop at points. As venues and event managers plan for the post-COVID uptick, though, changes will need to be considered. Here are 10 factors event managers should know for in-person events post-COVID.
1. Events need clearer contingencies
Cancellations and postponements are costly, and a pandemic makes them more unpredictable.
If a venue needs to cancel, communicating early with attendees gives them time to adjust. Clear refund policies – paired with timely pay-outs – can preserve a venue’s relationship with guests.
If a guest cancels, managers should have an accurate account of the financial implications in order to pivot effectively. Unclear costs can make replacement events harder to organize.
2. Value added services can generate revenue
A slump in business over the last year means event managers are working with even tighter budgets. One solution over the last year has been to cut value added services and only focus on essentials. As in-person events pick up, however, these extra services offer an opportunity to generate more revenue.
Services that generate excitement and can market a venue’s services can secure future business.
3. Supply chains need to be evaluated
Suppliers faced just as much turmoil as the organizers could no longer buy from them. Before operations pick back up, event managers should assess their current supply chains to make sure they can keep up.
Supply chain issues that are detected early can be addressed while there’s still time.
4. Safety considerations for in-person events
Depending on the event location, managers may have to prove an event will meet all existing safety standards. This is especially true for events that need room block management. In some cases, that might even mean applying for post-COVID permits or gaining approval from the right committee.
Not only is safety a major consideration for post-COVID events, but a certified standard is a great marketing tool to guests who still have their own concerns.
5. Room block management software can reduce workload
Managing everything manually takes more time and labor. Using event software can automate some processes that would otherwise strain a budget or a downscaled team. Software like Cvent Passkey, for example, allows guests to self-book within an assigned room block online. It also has tools for upgrading rooms, extending stays and updating reports in real time.
This reduces admin costs and allows event managers to focus on the tasks that need them most.
6.Venues are eager to jump start operations
Venues are keen to make up losses with events, but this will need a level of caution to execute. Staff reductions, budget cuts and a less stable influx of guests will all affect the level of event that can be realistically pulled off.
In these early stages, it may be more important to manage within ones means to lay the foundation.
7. Communication isn’t strictly digital anymore
Many organizers pivoted to virtual events to keep business going, but in-person events mean in-person contact. Dress codes, guest training for staff, and presentation will once again be major factors.
Sharpening those skills is the first step to presenting guests with a professional and fulfilling event.
8. Attendance tracking can minimize disruptions
Early communication is a big theme here for a reason. Even if an event stays on schedule, individual guests might cancel. Tracking attendance allows for better room block management and allows event planners to dedicate resources to those in attendance.
Up-to-date attendance numbers reduce wastage and make for housing management and organizing – and that’s the goal in these early stages.
9. Event managers, not venues, are in demand
Guests want an organizer who can help them manage an in-person event post-COVID, and venues want managers who can generate good business. From room block management to sourcing supplies and executing, this is the time for event managers to show how valuable they are.
Venues may be more willing to offer higher commission rates to secure the best managers. While this trend won’t last forever, it’s a good time for professionals to negotiate their service contracts.
10. Hybrid events can help scale back up
Depending on room block availability and venue resources, not all businesses will be able to host events at full capacity from the start. Hybrid events provide a middle ground by using streaming and virtual rooms to supplement in-person events.
Doing this allows businesses to slowly scale operations back up to full capacity while generating revenue. It also allows event managers to work through early issues while the stakes are still low – and that troubleshooting experience will pay dividends on the bigger stage.
Hospitality in a post-pandemic world is possible – it just needs clever planning, strong communication and an eye for spotting problems early. Those qualities have always been important for event managers. Now more than ever, though, they can be used to navigate the new landscape and breathe life back into the industry.