Technology & Events: Planning for the Best & Preparing for the Worst

This is a guest blog post from our friends at Saffire, a platform for integrated, contact-less ticketing for events and venues. Thank you to Cassie Roberts Dispenza for leading a webinar on this topic and sharing her final thoughts here!

As 2020 continues to go on (and on and on and on!) most of our friends in the event industry have been impacted in one way or another by the Covid outbreak. For almost everyone, this means cancelled events and lost revenue. At Saffire, we are constantly looking for ways that technology can afford new opportunities for our clients and this year is no different! While some of the tools available to you may not be your first choice in producing events, we’ve come to terms with the fact that in order to survive we all have to adapt to the opportunities available.

Here are just a few ways that you can use technology to turn your brand in to a revenue producing machine in 2020:

  • Ecommerce – Even if your event was canceled, there are still SO many things you can sell online. Create a “festival in a box” with goodies from your 2020 event and your sponsors. Allow patrons to support you with donations with tools like Patreon. Typically on these transactions, small gifts are given to donors, which can be a way to encourage donations. (Think like a bumper sticker for a $2 donation or a T-Shirt for a $20 donation, etc.) You can also set up virtual shopping on your website with your vendors. Drive up “to go” festival food events have also been profitable for many of our clients. You may even be able to sell tickets to next year’s event super early! We’ve seen the most success with people who offer a generous refund policy. Use your online carts to their fullest potential!

  • Socially Distanced Events – While you may not be able to manage a virtual or socially distanced event the same way as you would an in person event, we’ve seen a lot of festivals have success. In virtual races, participants are encouraged to bike or run at their own convenience on their own route. They are often still mailed a race t-shirt or medal once they’ve completed a race. Other socially distanced events are becoming popular too—you can arrange for drive thru Christmas or Fall Festival displays or drive in movies. Online registration or tickets are easy to implement through your own website, ticketing provider or services like Google Forms. Virtual events via Vimeo and Facebook Live can also generate revenue for events you may host live on social media. Even if you don’t do a password protected event, revenue can still be generated via tips or donations on apps like PayPal or Venmo. In many cases, viewers like this low pressure option to be able to donate an amount they prefer as they’re watching, rather than having to buy a ticket in advance.  
  • Social Media – Our tried and true social media accounts can serve as a way to stay connected to our loyal followers on any of the above intiatives, even if you didn’t get to see them in person this year. Invite a sponsor or two to host a contest – give them credit and give prizes to your followers! It keeps your sponsors engaged and may be a way to keep some of your commitments to them for 2020. Social media ads are drawing a lot of attention right now because everyone is glued to their devices! While many brands have held back on ads, we encourage you to move forward with yours! (Making sure your messaging is considerate of the times of course.) Since ads are not in as high of demand right now, they may actually be less expensive. Finally, make sure to utilize stories and Live features as “in the moment” content. This is what your audience is most likely feeling like they’re missing at the moment—something with human contact!
  • Software Advancements – If you are authorized to have an in-person event in 2020, it’s possible that there will be new regulations for event capacities to control crowds or more advanced selling systems to avoid the exchange of cash. Many technology & ticketing companies are offering new ways to manage these requirements with things like capacity tracking software and contactless selling terminals. Often times having these types of systems in place can help convince your local officials that you are prepared to host events safely again!

It takes a little creativity and thinking outside the box to launch safe and legal events during these times, but the extra efforts can really pay off. You may even uncover new ways to make or save money that you will carry with you in to future years of your event.

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