We’re living in an unprecedented time, with a global health and economic crisis that has disrupted industries across the world. While many businesses are adjusting as best they can, the wide-reaching impact of the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be denied, especially for sectors such as tourism, catering, and retail.
Asia-Pacific countries continue to face the pandemic, and the economic consequences that follow, the prospect of recovery can seem distant for many businesses. But when times are tough, businesses with a willingness to innovate emerge as pioneers and winners. When we focus on people and put our customers and partners first, we can provide a much-needed human connection, re-establish important relationships, and tackle the recovery period together. After all, as the President and CEO of Marriott International, Arne Sorenson, said, “Through it all, we [have] to remain true to our core values, which include putting people first and acting with integrity.”
Events that bring people together and provide an opportunity to establish human connection will be essential to the recovery period.When we say “events,” we don’t only mean in-person gatherings. In fact, with restrictions on the number of people that can be in public together (Hong Kong), evening curfews (parts of Australia), and congregation limits of up to 50 people (Singapore), the most successful events in the recovery period will no doubt need to incorporate a virtual element. From what we’ve seen so far, virtual consultations, live chats and livestreamed product launch events have proven to be effective means for brands to at least partially replicate the in-store experience for consumers and grab the market even in these times. Hybrid events that combine virtual and in-person elements are quickly becoming the new trend.
Event planners, it’s your time to shine! And Marriott International is here to help.
To help you navigate this new normal, we have put together 4 key things event planners can do to prepare for recovery, create valuable human connections, and win the market for their industry:
1. Embrace the digital world. This means connecting with consumers and partners virtually through tools such as livestreaming.
Over just a few months, the world has seen a digital revolution. While the transition to doing everything digitally has been difficult for many, the ongoing effects of the pandemic suggest that much of people’s interactions with each other and with brands will continue to take place in the digital world. It is therefore essential to adapt and learn how to effectively organize virtual events. The success of online events hasn’t gone unnoticed. Those that succeed and stand out in Asia-Pacific countries often rely on livestreams. For example, Bonpoint, a French luxury clothing line for children, participated in JD’s livestream and attracted over 400,000 views in one session.China’s livestreaming market value reached RMB 90 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach RMB 112 billion in 2020 From the infamously broad-reaching Singles shopping festival on 11.11, we can see that using livestreaming is key to growing a business quickly in China – just look at Tmall and Taobao’s success across consumer segments.For all its appeals, going virtual is not an easy feat. Fear not – Marriott is here to help.We’re working with experts from the e-commerce space to help local businesses become more digital. We want to make sure that every brand, and every consumer, can benefit from this virtual connection.
To start, all Marriott locations are equipped with full-service tech teams, high-speed internet, top-of-the-line AV facilities, and Virtual Meetings packages to more effectively connect your team, your clients, and your consumers. Let us take care of the technical details, so you can focus on forging strong relationships and partnerships. Together, we can seamlessly navigate this new digitally-led ecosystem.
2. Combine the best of both worlds in a hybrid event. This means holding an event that seamlessly combines the virtual and the physical.
Hybrid events were a great idea even before 2020, because they allow more people to attend, connect, and share in the experience. But these hybrid events are even more important during a global pandemic, to ensure proper safety, and to circumvent potential travel restrictions.
When running a hybrid event, it’s essential for businesses to ensure that the image of the brand is protected. That’s why both the virtual and the physical space need to be up to par with the look and feel of the brand.
Marriott can do just that. Our world-class hotels ensure the best experience for you and your guests, guarantee a luxury image, and provide the convenience and support that is instrumental to a successful event. And with our expertise and scale, we can provide a seamless integration of your virtual and offline communities. Beyond our tech expertise mentioned above, our exclusive and elegant locations provide an impressive venue, that’s also designed to reduce physical contact through touch-less technology and plenty of socially-distanced seating space – a must-have as the world deals with recovering from the pandemic.
3. When virtual events are not feasible, or simply don’t make sense (e.g. job fair), make sure you have a safe and spacious venue for your event.
Professional firms – especially those in finance, law, and consulting – are always looking to hire the best people, which means that a virtual meeting may not be enough to make the hiring decision. A virtual job fair would make the difficult process of hiring even more cumbersome for both the employer and the potential hire. In this scenario, a targeted in-person job fair can make a huge difference.
But in a COVID-19 world, the job fair needs to be safe, spacious, and sanitized – otherwise, the risk of participating would not be worth the benefits of the in-person interaction. Our Marriott venues are perfect for a professional event, but more importantly, they’re designed and managed to keep everyone safe – from the companies at the booths, to the potential hires, and all of our staff. We take pride in our flexible spatial arrangements, our 24/7 support team, our delicious and safe catering, and our enhanced cleaning protocol. Our trusted team is always up-to-speed on local regulations, and we are fully committed to providing you with a safe and clean environment, so you can enjoy your event and rest easy.
4. When virtual events fall short of building connection, consider a location-fluid approach that would allow you to bring a personalized customer experience directly to your customers.
Sometimes, meeting customers where they are can be more beneficial than sustaining a single store or focusing only on one geographic area. Think, for example, about the benefits of a food truck – it can go wherever the demand is, reach more customers, and even make the experience more seamless and convenient for the owners themselves.
Now, you can do the same thing for your company. Brands can work with Marriott to hold individual small-scale events, or even band together as an industry to book our venues. Marriott can provide individual function rooms or suites as personal showrooms to maximize the personalized shopping experience for the consumer, enable stronger connections between consumers and brands, and, at the same time, minimize the risks involved. On our end, this means setting quotas for the number of people allowed in the venue and in each room, closely monitoring and enforcing those quotes, putting a robust cleaning protocol in place, and much more. But this will all happen in the background, so you can focus on building connections and relationships with your customers.
We hope these tips help you navigate the ever-changing recovery period that is to follow. As you continue to adjust and evolve your business in this unprecedented time, know that Marriott has your back. We are equipped with high-tech capabilities, spacious venues, robust cleaning protocols, and the latest information to ensure local regulations and restrictions are followed. Our local expertise, our global experience, and our longstanding commitment to people make us uniquely positioned to help you organize successful events. Our teams are professional, responsible, and innovative, and they will work with you to make sure your vision comes to life – regardless of whether you choose to do a virtual, physical, or hybrid event. Book an event with us now, and experience the best for you and your guests!