by Shannon Licygiewicz (pictured right), director of sales, CEM, Albany Capital Center
For reasons that don’t need to be explained, this “down time” isn’t what anyone in the event, tradeshow and live industry ever expected. Chances are, you most likely thrive on the smiles of event planners and attendees as they come into your facilities and the times when you go above and beyond delivering on expectations. What used to be familiar is not so familiar anymore. With events currently looking a bit different, with smaller numbers and many opting for hybrid or virtual gatherings, chances are your day-to-day schedules aren’t what they used to be.
Here are a few things the event industry can do as we count down the days until our new “normalcy” returns.
Update Your Marketing Materials
Have you upgraded your technology or come up with new best practices your clients could benefit from? Update fact sheets and other materials on your website to highlight your new offerings. This could be a chance to develop a deck of commonly used creative floor plans for events, or even test some setups yourself.
Currently, our new “normal” most likely has restrictions on capacities and attendance. Are there social-distance-friendly setups you can include in your client packets that would come in handy?
Consider creating a toolkit that event planners and clients can download, reference and share before planning and attending an event at your facility. For example, the Albany Capital Center created a COVID-19 Updates & Information page where this toolkit lives. It includes everything from FAQs to social media graphics, so your clients have everything they may need at their fingertips.
Communicate with Your Clients
No one has all answers on what the future holds, but letting your clients know you are still here and will do everything you can to keep guests safe while providing a stellar event can go a long way. Listen to the concerns your clients have, and take notes. Customer relations are at the utmost importance right now, and you have a duty to your clients to keep them up to date on what you know. You are not selling space anymore— you are selling confidence. Communication is a powerful thing, and how you deliver information will be important when messaging how to welcome them back safely to your facility.
When it’s time to welcome guests back to your facility, it will be even more crucial than ever to get your calendar dates filled again. One tactic can be to advise your staff to execute owned events that you can use to fill holes. Maybe it’s a safe Trick-or-Treating event, Breakfast with Santa, an Expert in the Room Webinar Series, Hybrid Art Gallery, or a Virtual Comedy Night. There are many things you can do to get people through the doors this fall and winter or to highlight the facility as a safe venue, keeping the building and your offerings top of mind.
There is a good chance you are not working face-to-face with your staff right now. Fortunately, there are still plenty of things you and your staff can do for professional development while connecting remotely.
Encouraging your staff to invest in themselves during this time is a great way to continue to strengthen their skills, as well as strengthen your team’s knowledge of industry trends. Certifications are a great way to achieve this; companies like CVENT, Meeting Planners International and the Events Industry Council offer many opportunities to invest in yourself.
Challenge your team to work on social distancing floor plans for tradeshows, corporate events and galas. Having sample floor plans ready can be a huge help when selling space in this new COVID-19 era. Updating LinkedIn profiles and encouraging your staff to share facility updates, improvements or highlights that are happening is also a great way to make them feel a part of things.
Improve your email or Excel skills, watch a webinar on meeting and tradeshow trends, and share feedback with the team, do some cleaning of your inbox, organize digital files and more. Event planning requires many different skills, such as creativity, communications, organization and networking. Pick at least one of these to work on during your time working remotely.
As facilities begin to reopen safely, many under attendance limits and mandates, it’s important to start preparing your facility and staff for different scenarios. Whether it’s a smaller in-person event or a larger event opting for a virtual platform, there are ways you can best prepare your building and team. While you may be asking your clients to think outside of the box right now—it is your duty to be there with them every step of the way.
Opened in March 2017, the Albany Capital Center, operated by leading venue manager ASM Global, is a modern, premier event and meeting destination in New York’s culturally rich Capital Region. Connected to the Times Union Center, Empire State Plaza and Renaissance Albany Hotel via enclosed walkways, the convention center hosts a diverse array of tradeshows, consumer and social events, and meetings for up to 5,000 guests. It boasts 22,500 sq.ft. of ballroom/exhibit space, six meeting rooms with 9,200 sq.ft. of space, 13,500 sq.ft. of pre-function space, state-of-the-art technology, and impeccable dining options. The ACC is conveniently located in downtown Albany and within walking distance of the New York State Capitol, business and warehouse districts, performing arts venues, museums, shops, restaurants and nightlife. For more info, visit www.albanycapitalcenter.com, or contact the sales department at (518) 487-2009 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story originally appeared in the Sept./Oct. issue of Exhibit City News, p. 44. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecn_sept-oct_2020