Becca had an awesome conversation with Shari Pomerantz from Reno Tahoe Promotions about how BB Events reinvented itself in the virtual world and continued moving her event planning business forward. They talked about a lot of great benefits that the virtual space affords us including sustainable event practices and party kits. Check out the interview below!
Story By Shari Pomerantz, Published January 14, 2021
When Covid brought her business to an abrupt halt, San Francisco event planner Becca Bloom of BB Events wondered, “Now what?” But today, she’s back on track with new focus and direction.
Becca took a virtual event planning course, got certified, and started advertising her new focus. Now she not only plans her own virtual events – but consults other companies and organizations on how to self-manage their virtual affairs. She’s focusing on working with clients who share her environmental and social values.
Reno Tahoe Promotions spoke with Becca – and listened to her top tips for planning virtual events, networking in the virtual world, and strategizing for success in a post-COVID environment.
Here’s what we learned!
Virtual Events vs Zoom Meetings
A virtual event is different from a Zoom call because “There’s a before, a during, and an after,” Becca explains. “That’s part of what makes an event special.” There’s a strategy leading up to it, which involves stakeholders, sponsors, and guests in the planning process. And after the event is over – there’s a plan in place to keep everyone engaged.
This year, Becca Bloom has relished the opportunity to get creative with virtual events. In traditional event planning, there’s a formula to follow. This year, she’s had to rethink how everything works. She’s revamped “happy hours” as organized speed-networking opportunities and broken up longer events with virtual cooking classes.
Screen Printed Products for Virtual Events
Party Kits are a huge trend in the event industry! For one of Becca’s favorite events, these gift bags included wine glasses etched with each attendee’s name, photobooth props, beverages, and snackable treats.
”At a traditional event,” she says, “you’re stimulated with so many things – you’re tasting, seeing, smelling, touching – and it’s engaging with so many of your senses. How do you bring that into people’s homes?” The perfect party kit makes your guests feel extra-special and more connected to their virtual experience. To personalize the experience – consider hand-delivering party kits to your guests’ doors!
Are you looking to make your virtual event more sustainable? It’s easy to offer party kit options through a virtual store. When your guests chose between embroidered hats, backpacks, and other items, they’re bound to pick products they’ll love – and use again and again.
Virtual Marketing Strategy
Even as Becca’s repositioned herself as a virtual event planner and consultant, she has found most of her marketing FEELS nearly the same. She’s always done her best networking through events – only now they’re virtual instead of face-to-face. One difference is that Becca has been focusing on making connections rather than bringing in new clients. Instead of directly selling her services, she’s asking how people are doing, listening to their needs, and making every conversation more about them. She’s also spending more time showcasing her work on social media.
Coping with Uncertainty – Will My Event Be Virtual?
Can’t decide whether to plan a virtual or in-person event? Becca Bloom advises: Pick one format and stick with it. The hardest thing is to start preparing for an event and then switch tracks at the last minute.
In 2020, many organizations kept postponing their events. But you can only push your event out so long, especially if you have fundraising or organizational goals to meet. She knows a lot of nonprofits that brought in more donations through virtual fundraisers than they would have with traditional events. These events may cost less to produce, and can attract audiences from much farther away.
For organizations planning events for late 2021, there are so many unknowns. “We’re hopefully on a trajectory of people getting vaccinated and coming back in person, but it’s too soon to tell,” says Becca. So her favorite approach is to plan for virtual events but consider modifying with face-to-face elements as the date gets closer. By keeping most of the event virtual, but adding pockets of in-person networking or a big keynote speaker, you can stay true to your plan and the resources you’ve spent developing it.
The Future of Virtual Events
Becca concludes: “I think people are realizing the benefits of the virtual. There are certainly areas of cost savings, of environmental savings, time savings. I think for certain events and certain organizations, the virtual space is going to be really important and certainly stay. “But,” she says, “we all miss that connection and coming together in person. So, there will be a little bit of both – virtual and in person.”
Becca sees a future in hybrid events. Like spectator sports, she envisions a combination of onsite audiences and viewers at home. For an event planner, this means two separate events to coordinate. Sure, it will be a challenge to ensure that everyone is experiencing something meaningful. But Becca is looking forward to being a part of it!