HTS Highlights: Leading Through Uncertainty: 25 Ways to Inspire and Elevate Your Events Program

On Wednesday morning, the Hospitality and Tourism Summit welcomed David Saef, the Chief Instigator in Freeman’s strategic advisory practice, to share his expertise in event organization and corporate marketing in a post-pandemic world. In his interactive webinar, Saef explored 25 ways to implement strategies that will inspire and elevate your event programs, whether it be in-person, online or a combination of both. While his 25 reasons cleverly served as an acronym for “Leading Through Uncertainty”, Saef successfully cultivated a safe, welcoming space to learn how to best navigate through the changes in the industry. Here are a few takeaways. 

“Not Your Old Floor Plan” 

Being the most requested topic of the 25, Saef explained how traditional floor plans had to seriously change in order to make the most of both the space and the participants. Floor plans are commonly planned within a structured grid. However, due to circumstances of the pandemic, such as limited guests and health regulations, Saef suggested the industry move towards Area Zones. These zones are geared towards allowing people to safely share by community based on interest within the event. Area Zones prioritize time and audience needs. 

“Gamified!” 

Guests also inquired how gaming can affect a digital event and exhibitor success. In general, we saw a positive outlook when incorporating gaming, with a 45% and 12 min increase in exhibitor engagement. However, it was noted that companies need to choose who and when these tactics are utilized. For example, investing in graming tactics with a more entry-level crowd will not be as efficient compared to a more experienced crowd.

“Touchless Immersion” 

The pandemic has placed multiple restrictions on what an experience entails. With Touchless Immersion, we can create our own picture, transporting guests into a new environment. This option is not only cost-efficient but would be truly memorable for everyone involved. The examples provided included a room evolved into the painting “Atelier de Lumieres” and another room immersed into a pattern created by artist Yayoi Kusama. 

“Designing for Intent” 

Saef noted that the pandemic may often have us asking “How can I make my on-site, online?”. However, no matter how many times you ask yourself this question, it’s the wrong way of thinking. He suggested to not forcefully convert all our work online, but instead that by doing less, and doing it better, we can find an equilibrium with doing both online and on-site events. For example, content curation will better help choose what should be delivered to certain audiences.

“Delivery Matters” 

As we move toward online, it is important to recognize how someone presents themselves on screen. Some suggestions for creating a successful online presence includes a smile, adequate headroom, alignment with the top third of the screen, and including your elbows. To create more lively communication, include body movement using your hands and upper body. 

Throughout the webinar, Saef reminded us of the importance of taking breaks. Whether it be escaping to your safe haven, walking through nature, or having a coffee break, we all need to take a breather. By having the goal of uplifting others, we are creating an environment where we can all thrive. 

Written by: Jessica Narvaez