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As meeting planners, we are always planning for the unknown and trying to mitigate loss. The unfortunate outbreak of the coronavirus was no exception. In a matter of weeks, the world changed drastically and professionals in the meetings and events industry were forced to make difficult decisions swiftly. We needed to balance the health and safety of all parties involved while meeting financial obligations or minimizing loss. In most cases, planners were left with four choices:

  1. Cancellation
  2. Postponement
  3. Virtual meetings
  4. Hybrid meetings

A cancellation is the least desirable outcome for all parties, but this may be necessary if you are not able to guarantee the safety of the participants or if travel restrictions prevent the majority of your audience from attending. A thorough analysis should be completed before determining that cancelling is the only viable option.

In some cases, postponing the meeting may be a logical choice, but this requires a collaborative effort between the planner, venue managers, suppliers, sponsors and ultimately the meeting participants. A clear and professional communication strategy is key to effectively managing a postponement. If you are delivering time-sensitive information, the postponement date must meet the needs of all parties or else it becomes futile.

Virtual meetings have taken center stage in a matter of weeks providing an alternative for groups to meet. Redesigning your event to a virtual platform provides a safe and cost-effective way to deliver your message as long as they are strategically planned. It is critical that the right technologies be put in place with experienced staff and contingency plans. There are lots of variables to consider with a virtual meeting and it’s the planners’ job to prepare for all potential disruptors.

Hybrid meetings will be important to the future of events. This model combines live in-person and remote participation options eliminating many physical attendance barriers. These are complex events to manage from a logistical standpoint as you need to balance the deliverables for both live and remote audiences. An advantage to a hybrid meeting is that they can easily be modified into a virtual event if necessary.

The coronavirus has created an unpredictable environment that is ever changing. We are rising to the challenge by staying informed and making sound decisions that ensure the safety and effectiveness of our meetings.

Coming soon…follow along as we share our creative out-of-the-box solution to an upcoming CME meeting.

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