As we touched on in our blog a few weeks ago, uncertainty within events right now is still at an all-time high, often leading to shorter planning windows and truncated timelines. For our clients looking to host events later into 2021, the million dollar question still seems to be: live, virtual or hybrid?
For those set on virtual-only there’s a relatively clear (and the least complicated) path forward. But clients who are hoping for an in-person component may have a slightly more winding road. To help strategize on this big decision we’re offering three key recommendations on how best to move forward planning for an in-person component while not compromising the success of a virtual contingency.
Double the Events = Double the Planning
If you’re hoping to have any sized group in-person but also looking to fall back on going fully virtual, we’ll likely be planning two events simultaneously. To be the most prepared, we need a fully fleshed-out Plan A as well as a robust Plan B until we choose a definitive path. This means two planning timelines, two runs of show, two sets of contingency plans, etc. It also may mean that the project will be more expensive. We definitely don’t want our clients to short-change the planning around Plan B, or underestimate the extra work that will be required to concurrently design and coordinate multiple events. Whichever event format we end up choosing, we all want the event to be compelling and well thought out -- just like it was Plan A all along!
Timing is Everything
When assessing if it’s possible to have an audience of any size in-person, remember that your event date is not the only milestone you should be considering. The more critical dates center around marketing communications and vendor contracts. For example, if the event is taking place on May 1st, we’ll likely want to have a definitive plan by mid-March so we can communicate final plans with guests and can hone in on the remaining details. It’s certainly possible to wait longer, but you may risk confusing your audience, crunching the timeline, and having to commit to larger payments. Remember, venues and vendors have milestone dates in their contracts for cancellations too (and relying on Force Majeure is incredibly risky these days)! With all of this in mind, the timeline we have to evaluate before making a final decision may be shorter than you think.
Flexibility is Key
If we’re going down the road of simultaneously planning an in-person experience and a virtual event, we always strive to bring on partners who can produce in both realms. For instance, we would secure a video partner that can assist with both in-person shoots as well as with high-caliber virtual production. If we’re engaging a caterer, we would select one that can offer solutions not only for the in-person event, but for potential home-delivery as well. Even for more niche vendors like photo booths and other types of entertainment, we look to vendors who offer solutions in both physical and virtual environments. Equally as important, we make sure to be transparent about our parallel plans from the onset and structure contracts that give us the most flexibility to change formats or specs later on. It’s much easier to negotiate on fluidity when vendors are vying for our business! The more flexibility we can create early on, the greater the impact will be on both the planning process and your budget.
While planning simultaneous events may require more work and careful navigation, if done properly, it will afford us all the opportunity to create an experience that best resonates with your audience and within the current environment. The Sequence team is adept in live, virtual and hybrid events and we can’t wait to work with you to make this process as seamless as possible! If you want to chat more about how Team SEQ can help you plan all of the above, click here to schedule your free 30 minute consultation.