By Elizabeth Busch Wiese

Our mission has always been to connect people. Being face to face is our preferred method, but amid the pandemic and a shut down of just about all meetings, we’ve found new ways to continue doing just that.

When it comes to the industries hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, live events ranks right near the top, along with restaurants, hotels, and airlines. 

As the fear of COVID-19 raced across the globe in March 2020—what seems like a lifetime ago—companies were forced to cancel scheduled in-person events and rethink how to gather their communities. That hit us and our clients hard, especially since we’ve built our business around the mission that “being face-to-face moves business forward.” 

As the cancellation and refund requests poured in, we were forced to look at each other—virtually of course—and admit: “This sucks.” Our business is quite literally based on connecting people, yet we couldn’t do that the same way anymore. It was painful. In short, we miss you. 

“Despite everything that’s happened—or perhaps because of it—the need to connect people has never been more urgent.”

The good news was that we were well-prepared to work remotely—we’ve been a virtual team ever since we started our business in 2008. We work from home offices across the country to plan events around the world. We’ve been using videoconference tools like Zoom and honing our ability to collaborate without being in the same space for years. That helped us to stay connected and in touch even when we couldn’t meet in person. It also gave us a leg up in terms of keeping our business moving forward.

We gave ourselves a moment to grieve the loss of what could have been in 2020. And then we got to work on our new reality.

After the initial shock of the pandemic wore off, we got back to work. Because, as we’ve come to realize, our clients need us now more than ever. Despite everything that’s happened—or perhaps because of it—the need to connect people has never been more urgent. It just looks a little different than it used to.

Adapting to an Uncertain Future

Expectations are that we won’t see the return of live events at scale until 2022, at which point the hope is that we’ll have the virus under control via a vaccine or treatment. Until that happens, some people won’t be willing to board an airplane or cram themselves into a packed room to hear your keynote speaker.

There are also the liability issues that come with asking employees to travel or congregate in large groups. Any employer worth their salt wants to do anything and everything they can to keep their employees safe.

“You can still move your business forward—you just have to think differently about how to make that happen.”

That’s why the temptation can be to just punt—to hit the pause button—until a solution to the virus arrives.

Guess what? Your business isn’t going to wait that long. The same factors that drove the need to hold those live events—to connect with employees, customers, partners, and prospects—still exist, pandemic or not. 

In other words, it’s time to adapt to the new reality. You can still move your business forward—you just have to think differently about how to make that happen. As the old saying goes, scarcity is the mother of invention.

Rethinking the Events Business

Once we settled into COVID life, we mobilized to help support dozens of our clients in hosting successful virtual events. Where we once might have spent our time researching hotels and contracts, we shifted into the latest and greatest virtual event platforms  and understanding how to create interactivity in new ways.

From emoji signs for Zoom meetings to the art of mixing pre-recorded and live presentations, we’ve held true to our mission—being face-to-face moves business forward—only we found new ways to connect people virtually. 

The future of live events will look very different from our pre-pandemic past. Virtual and Hybrid events, in one form or another, are here to stay. We’d even wager to bet that we’ll take more than a few strategies from our deep dive into meeting virtually that will forever change the face of in person meeting too. The question then becomes, what are you doing to get ready for that future?

If answering that question sends shivers down your spine or leaves you scratching your head on where to begin, we’re here to help give us a shout. We’re learning to adapt to the new reality around us, and we’d like to support you too. Remember, we know—this sucks. But staying connected will make us all better on the other side.