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Is the Delta variant leading to another pause on industry planned events? It might just be. BravoCon 2021 is being cancelled “out of an abundance of caution”; organizers of the New York Auto Show recently nixxed their upcoming in-person event due to rising concerns surrounding the variant. Now, with recent reports swirling that Stevie Nicks and other prominent artists are making the hard decision to cancel the remainder of their 2021 shows due to the variant, it feels oddly reminiscent of the chaotic energy we were all swept up into just over one year ago.
Event cancellations are not just looming, they’re happening. So, what do we do with that information? Unfortunately, this is — quite literally — not our first rodeo, which means now is the time for industry marketers and business leaders to be agile, and plan accordingly.
What we’re experiencing now may feel reminiscent of where we were at the start of the pandemic, but our actions over the next few weeks can strongly influence — and manifest into existence — that more positive outcome that 2021 was supposed to represent. Here’s how:
1. Bring your A-game by keeping Plan B and C in your back pocket.
This is a moment in time where we see organizations talk about their values from an external perspective and embrace them. Get future and cThe nature of the industry may change, but the moment in time does not disappear. There is likely another way to maximize the moment outside of attending an in-person event; think through what that path to success would look like for your company, and formulate a few back-up plans.
2. Hybrid or virtual events are the best options to pursue as we navigate this next wave.
Flexibility is key. Take a look at your upcoming event schedule. Ask yourself, what are you locked into? Do you need to attend those upcoming events? What value are they driving for your organization?
3. Look for sponsorships that have digital marketing elements, such as content marketing opportunities.
The alignment of external and internal displays of your business’ mission statement is critical. Ensure that your company’s values are presented If the sponsorship makes sense for the business, and the business has the budget, it is still worth the pursuit.
4. With that, use this time to refresh your overall strategy and re-evaluate remaining marketing dollars!
We’re at that time of year that often sees marketers racking their brains to cook up ways to use up underutilized budgets ahead of next year’s planning cycle. Leverage this time to your creative advantage.
5. Think employee-led.
If your company is in the news for a progressive idea or a thoughtful point of view, amplify it! Share this earned news on social media and invite This is, arguably, the most important tip. Challenge your organization to think if there could be a better way to leverage resources and hit KPIs while keeping employees — and their safety — top of mind. We are in the midst of The Great Resignation; now is not the time to make employees feel uncomfortable or worry about having to travel to and attend or staff an in-person event. Now is the time to lead with empathy, understanding, and compassion.
6. Keep events in your marketing and communications calendar!
They still mark a moment in time and an opportunity to get the attention of a larger audience. Especially for larger events, like CES where there is opportunity for meaningful mind melds with industry executives, journalists will still be covering the virtual event, so don’t miss out on an opportunity to tell your story.
Delta may be responsible for this most recent and deadly wave, but we are unfortunately — and realistically — nowhere near the true end to the pandemic. We cannot think in terms of reaching “new normals”; there is only the here and now. Let this latest variant serve as a great reminder to think big picture, and that thinking extends beyond event planning.
There will be a resurgence of events that will be a part of a powerful and digitally-transformed marketing mix. The events industry appears poised for a new era, one that is shaped by the impulse to connect and gather. Together, and with a little bit of ingenuity, we have the opportunity to define a new, flexible future of work that was better than anything we experienced in the pre-pandemic era.