Adrian Si is the director of marketing strategy at ASV, an event and experiential marketing outfit based in Torrance, Calif.
4 Pointers for a Post-Pandemic Event That Stimulates the Senses
COVID-19’s imprint on in-person gatherings is noticeable — and it has the potential to be long-lasting. An Aventri study revealed that 89% of event organizers expect to still rely on virtual meetings even when face-to-face gatherings resume.
Thanks to the pandemic, companies worldwide embraced unconventional event marketing methods. Those out-of-the-box tactics aside, event marketing’s intent remains unchanged: providing unique and memorable brand experiences.
And even with in-person events not en vogue at the moment, there’s still an opportunity to provide an engagement that stimulates the senses.
How the Pandemic Changed Event Marketing
Given the limitations imposed by COVID-19 (e.g., social distancing, crowd limits, and sanitation measures), event organizers face many challenges.
One such hurdle is the liability associated with hosting a large event during the pandemic. Companies didn’t want to host potential super-spreader events that could tarnish their public profiles, so many brands just stopped large gatherings altogether.
Brands adapted by hosting socially distanced events, though this came with some setbacks. The success of an in-person event is usually measured by the number of people in attendance and how engaged they were. Having to stay a certain distance from other attendees creates less throughput and equates to reduced ROI.
Instead, brands are now turning to hybrid events. After seeing the benefits and availability of virtual gatherings, they are wrapping their heads around the reality of hybrid events and how they can activate the senses.
Build an Event That Stays With Attendees
When two or more senses act simultaneously, each one goes into overdrive to heighten an experience. Creating events with that kind of staying power is every organizer’s objective, even in these less-than-ideal times.
Here’s how to create a modern event that activates all of our senses:
1. Maximize safety for individuals.
People are ready to come together, but they want to do so safely. Follow all protocols and implement adequate cleaning practices to help put their concerns at ease.
Offer personal protective equipment (PPE), provide sanitization stations and limit the size of your crowd. Although the number of in-person attendees might be limited, they will feel much safer.
2. Explore outdoor events.
The summer and fall provide exceptional opportunities for event marketing outdoors that allow you to leverage enjoyable weather as part of the overall experience. With the natural breeze and fresh air, it’s also safer than indoor spaces.
Consider drive-in and drive-thru events that use vehicles to create an even safer barrier between guests. Pump fragrances into traveled spaces and offer food to help contribute to the sense of taste and smell. These small and nuanced approaches definitely add to the overall mood.
3. Implement guided or zoned events.
In these instances, organizers can guide attendees through the experience at a consistent pace. This method ensures people can remain in each area for a set time before moving to the next section — it also prevents any sort of crowding or bunching.
Imagine a gallery where each area is dedicated to enticing a sense. This could be something as simple as offering one zone with 3D touch art, another with enjoyable music, a light show in another room, a perfume or fragrance sampling area, and closing with a food-and-wine tasting section. The more distinct each area is, the more it resonates with attendees.
4. Invest in your outcome.
These events require meticulous planning, spacing, and preparation. This means they will likely cost more than in the past, but people are also probably willing to pay for any sort of novel experience after a year of being cooped up in their homes. Secure the bottom line by going above and beyond your regular in-person event routines.
Try bringing in brand ambassadors who can enhance the experience and make it more personable. Having influencers and ambassadors in attendance can help spread the word virtually, thus driving your attendance up from across the globe. This can drastically increase positive feedback and your brand’s reach.
During these ever-changing times, it’s necessary to continue adjusting accordingly. By implementing these effective measures now and in the post-pandemic landscape, you can position your brand as an engaging and memorable company that leaves a lasting impression.