Many event organisers from every type of event business face the same choice with their next event: pivot to virtual, cancel or postpone the event? So exactly how do you decide on the right option for your event?
Well, the first thing to say is that some organisers simply don’t have a choice.
If you have an Easter Fair there’s no option but to cancel: you can’t postpone that until the summer!
Many events are in the category of being seasonally dependent.
We all know that canceling an event is the absolute last option for everyone involved in an event but many have had to cancel.
From huge events like SXSW to much smaller events, many event organisers have had to bite the bullet and cancel the event.
Some events have disappeared, never to be seen again. Well, not until the 2021 version anyway. But that seems like a long way away, especially if you have a business to run.
Make no bones about it, the events industry, event businesses, and event companies are already taking a big hit due to COVID-19.
But some events do have options.
Postpone rather than pivot is the most popular choice (at the moment)
It seems like postponing has been the most popular option.
Postponing seems to be the default for the events that were scheduled for the next few months.
As an example, here is EVENTIT, an event I was supposed to speak at on March 19th.
It has been postponed until 25th September.
This six-month postponement appears to be pretty standard for events that were supposed to take place in Feb/Mar.
And with cancelation being such a horrible option I can see why so many have taken this decision.
But in such uncertain times, I have to ask: how do you know when to postpone until?
Is Q3 still an option of should you be looking at Q4?
Six months takes you to the end of Q3, but I reckon by the end of March, events will be postponed until Q4 (at least)
Assuming that social distancing measures and travel restrictions are things of the past, and events are “back to normal”, a few questions will remain:
- If you go Q4 won’t everyone else be doing the same?
- Will attendees have the capacity to attend a year’s events in 3 months?
- And will any of our suppliers be able to cope with such a huge spike, especially after being dormant for most of the year?
But there is an even bigger question……
Can we assume the hangover from social distancing won’t negatively affect our physical events for even longer?
So let’s ask that question again: should you pivot to virtual, cancel or postpone the event?
Is postponing just delaying the inevitable cancellation?
I have, if I can be as bold, summarised the thought process that many organisers will be taking right now.
As I said, some event planners have no option but to cancel altogether.
But for those who remain, most will decide to postpone.
And I fear that they are making the wrong decision.
Rather than postponing their events, they should be pivoting to virtual events.
Virtual events should be seen as a viable option for almost any event
Every organiser has to embrace digital/virtual events and every organisation that currently runs events has to see the huge potential in creating digital content and connections.
Sure, for many organisers and organisations, it is a big jump from the safe physical space of your venue, to the unchartered territory of the digital world.
But it has to happen.
If you postpone your physical event you are going to be at least six months behind the organisations who choose to pivot to digital.
It is decision time
If you are about to make the decision to postpone without fully understanding the potential of digital events then please, please, take a moment to look through our online events resources page.
But I may be wrong. Maybe postponing isn’t delaying the inevitable cancellation. Maybe.
But one thing is for sure.
By not fully understanding the role that digital events will play in the future, you are delaying the inevitable demise of your career as an events professional or your entire events business.
It really is that clear cut. Digital/Virtual events are here to stay.