Coronavirus – How to Manage Your Live Events
By Steven Bouchard
We find ourselves in unprecedented times yet again, as the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic began in China late last year and has continued to spread causing widespread impact throughout the globe.
Earlier this week, the impact intensified as the USA announced widespread travel bans for Europe, now considered the epicenter of the pandemic and many schools, events and offices across the country shut-down in order to slow the spread of the virus.
As the situation continues to evolve on a daily basis, many organizations are faced with making difficult decisions on how to manage live events, travel, office environments, all of which have serious implications for community health and economic impact.
We consider ourselves a “collaboration company” and the XChange methodology is our proven process that enables us to deliver massive outcomes through carefully designed experiences. Our core competency is certainly in the design and facilitation of live events, with experience spanning both ends of the spectrum, from small intimate Mastermind style retreats of 20 people, to large conferences and summits of several hundred or more.
In addition to our live experiences, we also apply some of our methodology in the virtual space, where we offer different solutions to create value, solve problems and establish cohesion between live events. This is not the core of our business, but we’ve certainly learned quite a bit about how to do this effectively and transfer some of what we deploy in a live event effectively in a virtual environment.
To be clear, we would never advocate that a virtual experience is the same or equivalent to what we can accomplish in a room full of people. There is a certain irreplaceable magic and richness that exists when you fill a room with a group of amazing people and have a formula to unlock their collective wisdom. We do however recognize that the current landscape has forced many organizations to rethink how they collaborate, which may require a virtual option for the time being and perhaps sometime into the future.
As a service to our customers and community in these challenging times, sharing how we’re approaching live and virtual events may help provide some ideas or guidance as you work to solve your own challenges. Below is how we’re approaching and responding to our own events and the situation in general, directly from Jon Berghoff, Co-Founder of XChange.
As an organization, identify a respected, trustworthy source to serve as your main conduit of information. This will help to alleviate discrepancy and any possible confusion as you evaluate data to make informed decisions. Two options we recommend include: Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).
Keep your teams, employees, community and event participants regularly updated on the status of any live events. Don’t be afraid to tell people that you’re canceling or postponing, but don’t have firm plans on a new date. This situation is rapidly changing on a daily basis and it may not b clear when you can reschedule your event for a variety of reasons. Most people will understand that and will be glad to know as much information as you’re able to provide.
Communicate when your next update will be provided. Let your community know that the next update will be in 30-days for example or on a specific date so they know what to expect. Avoiding and eliminating uncertainty should be the goal to reduce any potential anxiety.
Be flexible and offer options. To the extent that you’re able, work to be as flexible as possible for your community members and allow them to choose from several options (i.e. refund, transfer, credit, etc.) based on what best fits their specific individual needs.
If you are a vendor, collaborator, or partner to any type of event, it would be wise to do whatever is possible and necessary to help your partners manage the economic strains they are facing, by being understanding and flexible. Consider the longer term relationship versus the short term impact from terms or contracts that might not have accounted for this kind of scenario.