Just as we start to feel like the world is opening back up, we get hit with countries that are closing back down. And just as we're getting the hang of running successful, relatively-glitch-free virtual events, people have become sick and tired of going to virtual events. And as much as we've loved having unfettered access to our global colleagues, working 24 hours a day has become unsustainable. So where does that leave us on our global programs? What time zones work for virtual events? How are international programs handling the inconsistencies?
These were just a few of the topics we touched on during our June Pulse Check. We know going into this topic that we would all have more questions than answers, but hearing what others are doing is always helpful when having internal conversations and when guiding clients.
So... let's dive in.
Corporate Travel and Event Participation
Question #1: What is your current company policy for business travel to WORK at an event?
We're all over the board on this one with some permitting sales teams to travel - this was primarily in the Central US region where the states are more opened up and the vaccination percentages are high. A few companies said if you are vaccinated, you are permitted to travel, some said travel is on a case-by-case basis with executive approval. Several brand-side folks said September is their corporate line in the sand for travel, and one said gatherings of more than 10 people in their office is currently forbidden. The good news is for event professionals is that most said they are being permitted to travel to site visits for 2022 programs.
Question #2: What is your current company policy for business travel to ATTEND an event?
All of our agency and solopreneurs are open to traveling to events and industry conferences, as long as they follow all local CDC guidelines. Most brand-side participants said they are still on COVID holds or only permitted to travel within the state and for gatherings of fewer than 50 people.
Virtual Global Programs
Question #1: How have you been scheduling multi-time zone events?
Our 24-hour event cycle continues! Many are reducing the regional live shows, though, opting to offer live shows taking place to hit early morning for Americas and afternoon for EMEA and recorded replays for APJ are the norm.
Question #2: How much is live versus pre-recorded?
Most people reported 75-80% pre-recorded and 20% live executive cameos or live Q&A after a recorded session. Everyone said they offer one live experience and the recording is available for replay on demand.
In-Person Global Programs
Question #1: Are you planning any events with global in-person attendees? What are they? (incentives, conferences, roadshows, tradeshows, regional programs?)
No global programs planned among our participants in 2021, however, incentive trips and sales kick-offs are being planned for 2022. One participant said she is planning for all 2022 in-person events to have a hybrid component (which spawned a rousing discussion on what "hybrid" means, with most people landing on the idea that they would extend their reach by livestreaming/broadcast portions of main stage content).
Question #2: Is your company mandating global safety guidelines for your attendance or production of events?
Most companies are telling their employees to follow local guidelines when they gather, but one reported that they set global guidelines that all employees must wear masks at all locations, and all offices have temperature checks and must complete a form upon entering any facility.
Greatest challenges with global programs for 2021
Question #1: What are your biggest concerns with meeting your business goals?
A large variety of concerns popped up and they range from the mysteries of global travel to declining virtual engagement to hesitancy in booking large conference in case they have to be cancelled. Others reported that staffing is a huge problem... where did all the workers go?
Budgets continue to be a challenge as many event budgets were reallocated during COVID, so while some program budgets are coming back, travel budgets were not reinstated for 2021. Sales teams are screaming for in-person events, but corporate overlords are not permitting it yet, so trying to find virtual experiences that will meet the needs of sales is a challenge. Several people said they are considering small regional roadshows to capture the non-traveling markets, but these are just exploratory at this point.
Question #2: What are your biggest concerns with face-to-face engagements?
Participants are very concerned (or their legal department is...) about having an event be a Super Spreader, so they are very cautious with creating events right now. One person said that her company is not requiring vaccines or proof of vaccine to return to the office, so she doesn't feel like she can require either at her events. People not following the guidelines and having no enforcement authority was a prevailing concern. Understanding when to require masks and when not to was the biggest concern for in-person events.
With staffing shortages, many people were worried about having enough people to work their events.
One said they are working twice as hard because every in-person 3rd party event has to have a completely virtual back-up plan to not lose the expected pipeline in case it cancels.
One person said that their sales team needs training on how to use events in their approach, follow-up, sales efforts, etc.
Some states (like California) have enacted local laws requiring proof of vaccination for events, but others (like Nevada and Florida) have no regulations, so event producers are evaluating locations and some are even selecting locations with tougher laws in order to avoid having to deal with it on their company's legal team.
Agency/Supplier travel is almost fully approved, though corporate professionals are not seeing travel bans lifted until September. Some are able to get case-by-case approval from leadership or specific approval for a site visit. Sales teams in the Central US region are beginning to be permitted to travel and host customer events again.
Participants are considering roadshows to get field marketing kick started again in smaller groups to mitigate super-spreader risks.
Globally, many countries still have very strict travel restrictions to leave the country or to re-enter (with 10 day quarantines in some places). Since no company can take their employees off the map for 10 days after an event, they are opting for global virtual events and local in-country gatherings for smaller field events.
Tech companies are still going strong with virtual, but seeing fewer people actually show up, so the conversation now needs to be around how many people do you *actually* want to have on the event live, versus just using the event to get the registrants so you can remarket to them - is contact more important than content?
Great conversation, great insights! We look forward to doing it again in 4 weeks - Join us for our next Pulse Check on June 25th at 11am Central. This one-hour insights sessions is free to join.
Liz Lathan, CMP is co-founder of Haute Dokimazo, sparking profitable relationships anchored in genuine connection through rousing shared experiences and conversations. Explore the #HugLife community for event professionals and Convo, a program for marketing and sales executives.
Haute Dokimazo is part of Haute Companies, a family of companies that believe in human connection, from events to media (podcasts, videos, and more) to direct mail to swag to entertainment talent management to strategy session facilitation.
Contact Liz at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about how Haute can help you create programs that foster deep and trusting relationships with your customers and workforce.