We’re (hopefully) coming out the tail end of the COVID-19 pandemic and are all looking for ways to reconnect in person with our network. While the physical retail landscape has pivoted to create immersive web-store formats and evolved to meet consumer’s home-based lifestyles and the increase of online shopping – screen fatigue is real. With this, brands are exploring ways to interact, educate, entertain and connect with their communities IRL.
Beauty Director Megan Taylor talks a little about post-pandemic event hosting and some things to be aware of if you’re planning to execute in person experiences any time soon.
WHAT ARE THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR WHEN CONSIDERING AN IN-PERSON EXPERIENCE MID/POST-PANDEMIC?
Planning an event mid-pandemic is not dissimilar to pre-pandemic; the biggest consideration is planning and timing. It’s more important than ever to be prepared as far in advance as possible. In addition to the usual factors like ensuring brand DNA is infused across all elements of your experience, there are new hurdles to consider when deciding if in-person events are right for your next brand launch or preview.
- Is your venue open? During COVID-19 many typical event venues closed either temporarily or permanently. This means staffing now is low and as such, results in reduced opening hours. This may impact the planning process as you may need to do a full buy out & staffing for your event should it be on a day when the venue is typically closed.
- Are you going to need a special permit for your venue to host more than a small, same-house group in one space? This is a consideration that maybe isn’t on your radar as pre-pandemic life meant we could work directly with a venue to plan our events. Ensuring you’re meeting provincial guidelines when planning is your responsibility, not the restaurant/venue – so be sure to cover this one off!
- Are you sitting inside our outside? Again, this question was something typically only considered from an aesthetic or functionality perspective. Now, it’s considered to ensure comfort of guests or compliance with COVID-19 guidelines. Be sure to nail down the location prior to and include the info in the invite; guests will be more comfortable knowing where the event is happening in advance.
- Are you planning on serving passed hors d’oeuvres or plating up family style? Something that was hugely common at parties pre-pandemic was the community of sharing, passed foods and family style plates at dinner. Today though, this is a concern for many. Brands need to consider the added time and costs associated with individual meals/service to adhere to guidelines and ensure comfortable guests.
- Are your guests vaccinated? Pre-pandemic this is not a question we’d have imagined asking guests prior to attending an event. Today, we need to follow guidelines to ensure the safety of our guests. For brands, this means being aware of differences in guidelines province to province – if you intend on creating experiences nationwide.
- How are you planning on sampling product on site? The beauty of in-person experiences is that guests get to touch and feel product and interact with your product in a meaningful way. Post-pandemic, this looks a little different. To ensure there’s a comfort level among guests – try having dedicated product for display only, away from the interactive areas. Each guest should get their gift bags earlier on, so the product in there is theirs to try and test – keeping things sanitized.
- Have you created a waiver? Making sure your brand is covered for any backlash that may arise if a guest contracts the virus or if the restaurant has an outbreak is important. Create a waiver that separates your brand from these responsibilities.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE FUTURE OF IN-PERSON EVENTS HOLDS?
Looking ahead, with the evolution of the digital experience, in-person events will become more of an intimate, curated approach. During the pandemic it became apparent that we could work remotely, we could share information electronically and we could shop and consume brand DNA digitally. While this approach allowed us to maintain some normalcy during the pandemic, as consumers we crave the intimacy of in-person experiences. Brands are starting to re-emerge bringing together digital experiences with in-person elements and I believe this will continue well past the pandemic. Small-group, thoughtful and curated experiences will connect brands with their community while the experiential e-commerce that blends gamification elements with virtual reality try-ons and video tutorials will educate and engage consumers in a mass way. Brands that can marry IRL and URL experiences seamlessly together will win over today’s consumer.