How can events organisers reach out to their delegates during the COVID-19 lockdown? | Lime Venue Portfolio
At this difficult time people will be reevaluating the types of events they want to attend and how you respond to coronavirus - now is an excellent time to be proactive.
The recent outbreak has meant that as an events organiser you may have had to make some difficult decisions - updating delegates about the status of your events and often having to deliver less than positive news about their postponement. It’s not always easy to deliver this sort of message. But before you decide to pull back on your communications because you’re worried about your message being too negative, remember that keeping people up to date and in the know is invaluable to your delegate relationships - even if at times it can feel like a daunting task. Being transparent and in regular contact builds trust and can cement long term relationships.
At this difficult time people will be reevaluating the types of events they want to attend and how you respond to coronavirus - now is an excellent time to be proactive. Organisations have a responsibility to reassure their audiences and prepare them for when events start up again - regular and consistent communication will be key to this.
So, if you had events planned in 2020, what's the best way to deliver your communications and keep delegates informed?
Remember who you and your brand are, and why you and your event exists. In times of crisis, delegates will look to you for guidance and support, so it’s important to reinforce your values. If you suddenly change direction and try to emulate another event or brand voice it will be confusing to your delegates and could ultimately test their trust in you.
Be honest - tell it like it is
Successful businesses are built on honesty. It can often be tempting to try and bend the truth slightly to add a more positive spin to a situation, but this approach will damage your image and diminish the trust that an audience has invested in you. People aren’t stupid - they’ll know when you’re not being honest.
You know what’s right for your delegates, tell it like it is - they’ll thank you for it. It’s OK to acknowledge the many unknowns that we’re facing in the industry and how you’re working day by day to address them. It’s also OK to sometimes say you ‘don’t know’, but ending on a positive and proactive note will reassure people that you’re still focusing on and doing what you can to get events running again.
It can be easy to panic in this sort of situation, but remember you need to communicate a clear stance on events as they arise, this means careful planning. As Event Manager Blog suggests, if your communications are unclear and riddled with messages that evoke catastrophic thinking you’re at risk of creating an "emotional contagion" - the idea that your feelings can influence those around you. This is incredibly important when it comes to crisis communications because, if you convey panic and confusion, that's how your audience will feel as well.
Speak to your clients individually
It’s very easy to tell if you’re receiving a blanket message that has just been fired out in mass. Not being treated as an individual leads delegates to feel undervalued and that they’re not being listened to. Make sure you’re speaking directly to everyone, make sure you’re answering their particular questions and addressing their specific needs. If you’re not sure what they need or want at this particular time - ask them.
Keep it human
Sometimes it's tempting to fall into the habit of talking in corporate jargon - it sounds more professional and lets people know you’re in control right? Quite the opposite, you need to ensure that you are showing that you have empathy and can understand what your client is going through. You don’t need to go overboard or be intrusive, but empathizing with people's situations and letting them know that you’re continuing to work to deliver their event in whatever way possible is a much more effective approach.
Become a leading voice
Don’t be afraid to lead by example - it’s very tempting to just follow what everyone else is saying. Your delegates are exactly that - yours - they want to attend your event for a reason and want to know what you think.
Explore different options
Organizations are promoting their latest products and services through virtual events and messages. Although the concept is not new, virtual events provide a temporary and engaging way for businesses to stay connected with their audiences during the challenges of quarantines and social distancing.
Make it interactive
People like to think that they can make a contribution and have an impact. Interactive communications are invaluable in giving your delegates a degree of control and can become an event in themselves. Think about questionnaires, and other ways they can become invested and contribute to your communications, whilst keeping excitement and momentum high about your planned event.
Show that you understand
In times of crisis you don’t always have to be the hero. Delegates will appreciate it if they can relate to you and you’re talking frankly about the key issues that are impacting them. Like we said earlier, it’s OK to say you don’t know the answer to something or what the outcome will be, but make it clear that you’re continuously assessing the situation and working to be as helpful as possible.
Engage with local businesses and your community
This is a great time to reach out, not just to your existing and potential delegates, but your wider community. Strength is working together and you never know what opportunities these new relationships and friendships will bring in the future, whether it’s new business, or just learning something new.
And lastly get your message out there
Use all of your touchpoints to get your message across to the people who need to hear it.
Here at Lime Venue Portfolio, we are optimistic the whole of 2020 won’t be a wash out when it comes to events, but until we can meet again, remember to be true to your brand and keep open the lines of communications with your delegates as they will be back!
Please get in touch if you’re looking to hold an event this year or beyond. Our new COVID secure practices are now in place across our venues, so you and your delegates can be assured we are doing all we can to keep you safe.
How Levy are keeping their venues COVID secure
In an article published in Conference News, October 2020, Julie Coates Walker, from our sister company Levy, who supply catering services at Lime Venue Portfolio’s stadia and Confex venues, reveals the level of planning that has gone into making these venues COVID ready.
Our favourite places to get information during the pandemic
We've put together a list of our favourite sources of information about health and wellbeing, industry trends and events news in one handy place.