Covid-19 – how to rearrange events

As planners endure unprecedented challenges, Lara Burnes shares ways of rearranging events to help keep business afloat

Editor’s note: Lara Burnes has over a decade of experience and is driving events for Melbourne & Olympic Parks’ newest venue, CENTREPIECE at Melbourne Park, scheduled to open in late 2021. 

SUPPORTING businesses and industry has become more important than ever. With the weeks and months that lie ahead, there will be a lot of uncertainty – but what’s for sure, is that we’ll all be tested on how we work together and embrace opportunity.

1/ Contact your event partner, even if you don’t know what the future holds
Venues, suppliers and partners are all having it tough, just like you. While you might not know if you can reschedule your event, or if your event at a later date is going to be impacted, contact your partner to discuss your options.

Weigh up the possible scenarios – and begin to problem-solve together.

2/ Keep moving. Detail a new timeline, even if only a draft one.

We must remember that venues will re-open and events will happen again soon. With this in mind, begin to map out new timelines, even if you only have a rough idea. It’s important to keep on top of key dates and update your event partners accordingly.

To avoid congestion when everything is back to normal again, don’t be afraid to begin locking in dates. While there are still a lot of unknowns, confirming sooner than later will ensure that you have your top pick for your next event.

3/ Be flexible, prepare for the what-if

Remember a lot of event organisers are facing the same challenges.

Once life returns to normal, demand will be high for venues and event resources – this means dates and availability may be limited and you might not get your first, or second, choice on dates. Use this time to prepare for those what-ifs – and be flexible.

Remember, dates can change. It’s the experience your event offers that will be unique to your brand and the point-of-difference. Think about the busy and quieter periods of your industry and the 12-month calendar. You may even find some of your later choices in dates may drive a larger audience attendance.

4/ Get planning.

Your event might not be happening next week or month, but that doesn’t mean you can’t continue to refine the experience to make it the best event yet.

Ultimately, while it might not feel like business as usual, venues are here and available to continue planning as normal. Most businesses are operating remotely, with the benefit of having the time to really invest on your event. Use this ‘downtime’ as an opportunity to brainstorm how to make your event the best one yet.

5/ Think differently and embrace change.

When we emerge from this, the world will have changed and we will have adapted along the way. Embrace the changes and think about how you can incorporate them into your event.

Some of your attendees may not be able to travel due to budgets, health or simply because travel won’t be a priority for their business. Work with your event partners on ways to enhance your event experience, such as working with a charity partner, local suppliers, or incorporating the digital space into your event with a live stream.

6/ Be empathetic and kind.

We’re all in this together. People may be slower at getting back to you than usual or battling personal and professional challenges on different fronts.

Be empathetic and be kind – and remember that our actions now will shape our industry’s future.

Lara Burnes is General Manager of Premier Events & Experiences at Melbourne & Olympic Parks


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