Back in action: How to ease participants’ ‘in-person event anxiety’

In the UK we’ve been ’back’ to in-person events for nearly a year, but are you still worried about attending live events? Or as an event organizer, are you concerned your attendees will even turn up? 

Dahlia El Gazzar

With many events like Event Tech Live, IMEX and the Meeting Show all making a safe return as well as new launches such as Reset Connect, there are lots of lessons learned to help attendees feel relaxed at your next in-person experience. 

In this blog, we’ll uncover why people may be fearful of the return to in-person and offer ways to help you when planning your next ‘IRL’ event. 

Understanding fear

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." - Franklin D. Roosevelt

This quote is often cited when people are feeling afraid or anxious. And for good reason, it's a reminder that fear is an instinctive reaction that doesn't always reflect reality. Just because we're feeling fear doesn't mean there's actually something dangerous present. However, fear can still be a helpful emotion in moderation as it can motivate us to act and keep us safe. 

So how do we use that fear to help encourage your attendees back to in-person events? 

What do people worry about when it comes to in-person events? 

Whilst some of your exhibitors and attendees will be more than happy to not wear a mask, shake everyone’s hands and generally get back to the ‘old normal’ there are many that still have concerns about mixing with crowds of any size. 

Those with anxiety about the return of face to face need to ensure that their fears are allayed. Ensure participants know you’ve put the appropriate safety measures in place, so they feel safe and risks are reduced. 

Acknowledge fear

Long before your event returns, survey your attendees and exhibitors about what it is that may concern them about attending in-person. 

Take those results and deliver it as part of your event promotion strategy. Make the safety steps you’ve taken obvious to quell those fears, such as:

Fear: It’s going to be crowded, I won’t have my space. 

Solution: Social distancing, tell participants to respect the space around delegates. 

Fear: I don’t want to shake everyone’s hands. 

Solution: Anti-bacterial gel will be placed throughout the event venue. 

Fear: With that many people in a hall, the air might spread the virus more easily. 

Solution: Publicize your event venue‘s air purification system (and if they don’t have one, they certainly should). 

Fear: I’m here to meet new people, but don’t want to speak to everyone. 

Solution: We’ve got a really simple event networking app so you can pre-schedule appointments. 

Anticipate Obstacles

None of us truly predicted the effect of Covid-19 on the events industry at the start of 2020, or the rise of hybrid events in such a short space of time. But if nothing else, this pandemic has taught us to be prepared for the worst. 

Something every good event planner would say they do already.

Look at your disaster action plan for your event, does it cover the potential impact of a further rise in covid cases? Or a new variant? What’s your backup plan? Do you have sessions pre-recorded to share in a virtual event setting? Look at your plan and make a plan for that plan. Be prepared for new obstacles that challenge you at your next live event. 

Expect fewer attendees

You didn’t want to hear that did you? 

But let’s be honest, there’s lots of distractions, not just Covid related, that are pulling people back to their desks. Be honest with your audience and your exhibitors about what expected attendance levels may look like on your return. 

Exhibitors will be happier they have more time to spend with quality leads and attendees sitting on the fence about attending may be happier knowing the aisles aren’t quite as packed as pre-pandemic levels. 

Perhaps you can then expect to only have visitors in your event that are there to do real business. 

Give your attendees reasons to attend

This is obvious right? Tell them what they want to hear. Show them what they want to see. 

There will be great content. There will be new products. There will be innovation zones. But wait… you can find most of that on the internet nowadays, can’t you? 

One of the most challenging elements of an event throughout the virtual epoch of 2020-2021 was networking. And that’s something we at Grip are pretty good at, having done it for over six years already. In fact, we were founded to focus on delivering matchmaking and networking at in-person events. 

Making connections count

The world has changed a lot in the last year, and many of us are still adjusting to the new reality. 

One thing that hasn't changed, though, is the power of networking. In fact, making new connections may be more important than ever in the post-pandemic world and with the return of in-person events, we’re glad that everyone is back at face-to-face events, meeting customers, prospects, partners and industry friends. 

Whilst networking online can be helpful, there's no substitute for meeting someone in-person. That serendipitous moment of meeting someone new is difficult to replicate virtually.

By using the Grip platform, we make it easier for your attendees and exhibitors to connect. This results in leads for exhibitions, which can help you demonstrate ROI when trying to rebook exhibitors and sponsors for the next show. 

While for attendees, you’re able to connect them with other participants they could learn from.   

All of these interactions ultimately lead to a better event experience and record breaking NPS ratings for your show. That’s the power of a must-attend, safe in-person event. 

Book a call with Grip’s experts to learn how the best organizers run their in-person events.

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