Event Group Houston Perfects the Pandemic Pivot
Event planner Amanda Mora has found a silver lining around the cloud of the pandemic.
Owner of Event Group Houston, Mora and her team had been working non-stop keeping up with client demand — producing and hosting as many as four-plus corporate events in a single month. The pandemic brought that to an abrupt halt. And gave Mora time to think.
“I’ll never forget that day when the pandemic really started changing the lives of people on a widespread basis,” she said. “I was in a big client meeting and someone announced they just closed the rodeo (the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo). We started saying okay, let’s add hand sanitizer to all of the tables and hand-washing stations to our event. Three weeks later, all events were shut down.”
With an abundance of free time, Mora began thinking more about virtual events and hybrid events — those that have limited in-person attendance and many more participating virtually. She spent time considering new processes, learning about different audiovisual techniques and determining costs. She also had to imagine how to make these events interactive.
“A recent survey of event planners showed that they had limited confidence that a virtual event can meet client goals,” she said. “You can’t just have a person talking into a camera and a couple hundred people simply watching. There has to be a way to engage the audience.”
After several months of repositioning her company, Mora had her first virtual event in early August — a Realtor event for Sienna, a master-planned community in Missouri City.
“Originally planned as a model home tour for Realtors, the event was to highlight 11 recently opened models in a new neighborhood in Sienna, with entertainment that included wine pairings with tasty bites from local restaurants, shopping and other live entertainment,” Mora said. “By mid-July, we switched it from the Realtors & Rosé All Day come-and-go event to a Realtors & Rosé Let’s Play virtual event.”
Participants were treated to virtual tours of each of the four model homes with a virtual wine pairing and trivia questions peppered throughout, giving Realtors a chance to win cash prizes. It was held via Facebook Live.
“The interaction was amazing,” Mora said. “We had more than 400 people watch each model home tour, with hundreds more watching the recorded version after the event ended. There were more than 750 comments.
“We were definitely able to reach more people and showcase the model homes to a larger market than we would have been able to if hosted in person.”
Like the originally planned event, proceeds from Realtors & Rosé benefitted the Arthritis Foundation. Sponsorships raised about $5,500 for the organization.
“I always included a charity tie-in with my events and plan to keep doing so,” Mora said. “The Arthritis Foundation had a whole team in January when we first started planning this event. In August, they had just one person. The non-profits are really hurting.”
Mora — who has been an event planner for more than 15 years — says she has seen virtual events take precedence over live events before, but thinks this time, the concept has staying power.
“Back in 2009 when the recession happened, events went virtual because marketing budgets were the first to be cut,” she said. “Large companies in particular had to find ways to adapt and started using Zoom and Platform 24 to get to their sales teams and potential clients worldwide.
“With today’s technology so much smarter, I think virtual and hybrid events are here to stay.”
And Amanda Mora and Event Group Houston will be ready.