What Would Vaccination Sites Run by Event Planners Look Like?
Perhaps a lost fact in the pandemic is that large groups are indeed gathering at one site with a common goal—the very definition of what a corporate event should be. Naturally, it would take experienced event producers to see the potential for enhancing the shared experience of getting stuck with a hypodermic needle.
“We are going in with a mindset of when they arrive, how do you ease them through it?” said Mimi Eayrs, chief operating officer of JWP, a boutique event and fundraising agency founded by Josh Wood that is in talks to energize vaccine centers across the county. “We want to make their experience as pleasant as it can be.”
Eayrs and Wood hope to add DJs, musical performances and other safe, entertaining elements to sports stadiums, convention centers and other venues currently serving as public health centers. “We would love to figure out how to do that,” said Wood, whose group did add some elements to testing sites earlier in the pandemic.
While JWP is negotiating to make its vaccination site proposal a reality, the company leaders have incorporated their background in nightlife and fashion into the new world of events. “We moved into virtual events reluctantly, but people are starting to like them,” Wood noted.
Now both Eayrs and Wood view hybrid and virtual events as necessary, but not a necessary evil. They note the reduced risk factor and chance to increase profit margins as reasons to produce in-person and virtual gatherings.
That mindset surprises the team as much as anything has during the past year. But they’ve come to expect the unexpected.
Here’s how they see the events industry is moving forward.
- Planners are Planning Differently. Preparing for the unforeseen was something discussed but not necessarily fully practiced by event professionals previously. Now as JWP works with clients anticipating a return to face-to-face, there are many more layers. “We are getting a lot of our clients who are ambitious and they're planning events for the summer and fall,” noted Wood. “We just need to have a contingency plan upon contingency plan upon contingency plan and they're rolling with it.”
- Smaller Events Will Return Faster. There’s no way to tell how many people will be willing to travel this year, Eayrs and Wood agree. The uncertainty will highlight the strengths and weaknesses of virtual events. “Some of the intimate events we do don’t translate as well to an online setting,” Eayrs said. “It really helps being in the same room to create deeper bonds.”
- Working Will Never Be the Same. In some ways, it feels as if Eayrs and Wood are working more hours. But in others, it’s the opposite feeling. That’s because there is increased family time around their homes and schedules have shifted—usually until later in the evening. Eayrs, in particular, appreciates the flexibility of doing away with the 9-5 routine. “It doesn’t have to be exactly how it is now, but there are a lot of people who don’t want it going back to the way it was either,” she said.
- More Dancing and Silence. Want proof of how people with similar jobs can be total opposites? When asked what technology they’d love to see invented, Wood opted for a virtual immersive dancing experience. Eayrs opted for a cone of silence for her home—a dream of every parent, especially right now.