Danielle Renken and colleagues at networking event

In-Person Events in a Post Pandemic World

Danielle Renken and colleagues at networking event

Life has returned to normal… or has it? For those of us in the hospitality and events industry, life as we knew it has changed. The excitement and relief of “In-Person” events returning to the professional and social scene was like a breath of life after careers and relationships had suffocated for over a year at the grip of COVID-19.  “It would be like riding a bike,” I said to myself, business as usual. But, lesson learned, I was wrong, and a few imperative techniques and processes I now have added to consideration and my planning techniques.

1. Interaction is NOT the same

Consideration of everyone’s comfort level of space, touch, and interaction has changed. When planning your “In-Person” events allow room for people to distance or for population flow. Offer bracelets, stickers on name tags, or other like differentiation for those not comfortable with handshakes or “touch” interaction. Accommodation to attendee’s comfort levels is key for optimal attendance.

2. Connections are Important as Ever

The second lesson learned was that the connections were more important than the content at meetings, shows, fundraisers, and conferences. In the past, the goal was to network, educate, and build business. This was an easier element pre-pandemic because the guests attending the conferences and trade shows had been doing so regularly for years. The time necessary to “catch up” on life was minimal. Make sure when building your event schedule to accommodate for time to re-connect. Your attendees will have more need to rebuild or reestablish their connections with one another. Your ability to maintain a tight conference or event schedule will be difficult when attempting to gather attendees after breaks or gain their attention during educational moments initially.  For instance, allow more time if operating conference meetings in a speed dating process, or provide longer breaks, or more social events at your meeting.

3. Fatigue is Real

Many have grown tired of virtual meetings and longed for the return to in-person communication and networking events. But, with the time away and pandemic-driven virtual world, we have become less focused. Medical reports show that our attention spans as employees or attendees have drastically lessened. When planning your events, keep this in mind. Try to shorten educational seminars, long-winded speakers and focus on interactive moments. As the world migrates back to more in-person events, we will rebuild our attention span. Still, in the initial event planning stages, be cognizant when planning your days to allow time to reboot for your guests or shorter days with less content as people rebuild their stamina.

Much like riding a bike for the first time, it takes a few laps until you get the hang of it. My advice is to attend an “In-Person” event as soon as possible. The experience will better educate and prepare you as an attendee, event planner, or professional leader. Just like the comfort that is found following those first few laps of riding a bike, your comfort will rebuild after your first few laps at “In-Person” events.