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Beyond the screen: A guide to restarting in-person events.

by Sharon Bannister, our Head of Venue Find, Event Account Management & Sales.

Agiito beyond the screen blog - image of faces pushed up against glass

As we approach the Spring period, it’s naturally a good time to reflect on the first quarter and plan for the rest of the year.

We’ve been reviewing current trends on recovery levels* and are seeing some encouraging signs of rate growth for 2022, with in-person events making up the majority of event programmes for more than 70% and virtual events making up the bulk for only 25 of the UK and European planners.

We too have seen an encouraging return to live events this year. With the average event size peaking above 2019 levels in March, the indications are very much pointing towards a strong recovery for large in-person events in 2022.

Companies are keen to reconnect their teams in person and delegates have missed that level of engagement that can not be replicated on a screen.

Whilst the majority of delegates are excited to start attending events again, not everyone feels comfortable in doing so and event planners need to continue to be mindful of this. Hybrid events continue to feature regularly in our requests from customers, in order to provide inclusion for those delegates, enabling them to benefit from the content of the event through the use of technology.

What’s changed since the pandemic

If you’ve not had face-to-face events in over two years – where do you start? This is one of the biggest questions companies are asking and I’ll share the key things that need to be considered. If you are unsure where to start, it is best to reach out to the experts.

An experienced event agency will be able to guide you on the most appropriate solution for each event, whether that be a full return to a live event or a carefully blended mix of in-person and virtual elements.

Going ‘green’

Another key consideration for event planners this year is sustainability. Following the COP26 conference in Glasgow, we have seen a heightened focus on sustainability. This runs throughout the organisation process and can often determine choices of venue, catering, collateral and delegate travel to and from the event. We are finding that our customers are making more considered choices and the sustainability credentials of venues are key. Whilst there isn’t currently an industry standard for accreditation, there are lots of great schemes that can independently appraise venues' activity in this area, such as Green Tourism.

At Agiito we recognise the significant impact that we have in our role of supporting customers with over 62,000 meetings and 300 large events each year. Every small step towards running a more sustainable event really does add up! I would highly recommend giving consideration to your own organisations’ sustainability goals and how your next event could support those objectives. At Agiito we are working towards the ISO20121 accreditation this year to further demonstrate our commitment to delivering sustainable events. Maybe this is also a framework you may want to work towards?

My top tips

Thinking of planning a conference or event this year? These are my top tips:

  • Start planning early. Venues are incredibly busy – especially as there are a backlog of events that have been postponed - so you may not get your preferred venue if you leave it too late. The earlier you start, the more choice you will have.

  • Be flexible on dates. If you have some flexibility at the initial stage this will help to give you more options for consideration.

  • Consider an off-peak day of the week. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the peak days for conferences and events. If you want to achieve a more competitive rate and find more venue availability, try opting for an off-peak day and you will be pleasantly surprised at the savings that can be achieved!

  • How do your delegates normally travel to the event? If they normally drive, taking the train is a much more sustainable option and can greatly reduce the total carbon footprint of your event.

How can an event agency support you?

Many companies organise effective and engaging events and conferences without any support. This area has become a minefield over the pandemic, with many businesses now turning to specialists for advice and support. Working with an agency can provide added value by accessing their network of suppliers, with access to exclusive rates and they can share the most up to date industry knowledge.

More importantly, you can save time and take away the stress of event planning. At Agiito we love to generate creative ideas to make events memorable, in addition to supporting: venue negotiations, contracts, delegate registration, audiovisual and even third party suppliers, if team building elements are introduced. Get in touch to find out more.

*Cvent 2022 Q1 Planner survey of more than 500 event planners, managers, coordinators and directors across the UK and Europe in January 2022.

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