With COVID regulations loosening up and vaccine numbers climbing, many of us see a return to normalcy in the near future including attending events. We already know people plan to attend gatherings in their personal lives—2021 is one of the busiest years for weddings we’ve ever seen! But what about corporate and media events? In-person events are starting to pop up on calendars for late 2021 and 2022, so we checked in with some of Tunheim’s event experts on tips to keep in mind when planning.

Media Event Tip from Lou Ann Olson, Tunheim Director of PR + Digital: Offer Options

Some members of the media are now attending events – from press conferences to food/retail previews to private tours – but just like the rest of the population, each reporter has a different level of personal comfort when interacting with other people at this point. When planning for how best to tell your news story via in-person opportunities, identify several options that media can choose from – based on their personal approach. For example, inviting media to experience a new retail location could be effectively executed through a small group tour, a 1:1 meeting, or even a virtual walk-through. Let media know up front that you are prepared to work with them in whatever way works best for them.

Event Tip from Debbie Estes, Tunheim Strategic Partner: Walk Before You Run

Most big events have a long runway for planning. Think creatively. Lean into the “New Normal” and have fun with it.

Plan a hybrid event to meet the current CDC guidelines. It is easier to “open up” than implement stricter guidelines after the event has been communicated.

Many of the new guidelines around health and safety will never go back in the bottle. Consider these updates to your usual events:

  • Use a touchless registration platform for check-in
  • The rule used to be to get a small room and fill it shoulder to shoulder – now it will be booking an oversize room and designing plenty of free space for people to move around and have their personal space
  • Communicate the venues and event’s health and safety measures before they arrive to make attendees feel comfortable and know what to expect

Ideas to lean into the “New Normal”:

  • Plan virtual photo ops with speakers and celebrities
  • Hand out branded masks, packets of wipes and hand sanitizer
  • Plan interactions with your virtual audience in your program
  • Headline speakers will be easier to book if they don’t have to travel

Event Tip from Paula Wright, Tunheim Director of Corporate Communications: Plan Ahead, but Be Flexible

Be sure to know and understand local and state guidelines, and be ready to be nimble and flexible. A few specifics:

  • Be sure to consider how you can provide value to virtual guests, including sending “swag bags” in advance
  • Pricing of events will be tricky as virtual events have tended to be free or greatly reduced from traditional in-person events; guests may feel a bit of sticker shock
  • While we may be back to in-person, you may want/need to continue to serve food in single-serve units and self-serving stations vs. buffets.

No matter how we get back to events, it’s important that we do for the sake of a healthy industry. And when we do, it is important that we do so responsibly in more ways than just implementing safety precautions. Venues, production teams, caterers, etc., need reasonable profit margins and to pay their employees fair wages. When planning events, be budget smart, but don’t negotiate the good will out of the relationship to get rock bottom prices. Minority-owned businesses have been hurting more than most, so do your part in supporting your community by using a portfolio of small and diverse vendors.

Need help planning an upcoming event – either in-person or virtual? We’re here to help.

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Bloomington, MN 55425

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