The COVID-19 outbreak has placed businesses all across Australia under immense strain. And with widespread bans on gatherings in place since early March, the events industry has been one of the hardest hit.

But Australians rally together when times get tough. Many Aussies are already seeking ways they can support their favourite local businesses and that means events too. Here are five ways you can ask your community to support your events business during isolation.

1. Create virtual events

Events bring people together and while we can’t meet in person, our desire to be part of live experiences remains. Since March 10, we’ve seen a 10x increase in searches for online events on Eventbrite worldwide. Traffic from consumers to the online events browse page has gone up by 200%, compared to traffic before the social distancing measures. 

Hosting virtual events allows you to continue doing what you do best — provide an experience for people. It also keeps you connected to your attendees and is a great way for them to support your business. From virtual book clubs and dance parties to online paint & sip classes, we’re seeing event creators of all shapes and sizes get creative with their skills to pivot their business. 

If you’re considering hosting a virtual event, here are a list of resources to get you started:

2. Offer gift cards for future events

If your event format doesn’t work online, there is another option: offering gift cards.

Gift cards give you the chance to receive financial support upfront to help you build future events when restrictions are lifted. It also gives loyal fans something to look forward to.

There are two ways you can use gift cards for events:

As a way to support your business: Reach out to past attendees and people within your event community and encourage them to buy gift cards for future events.

As an alternative to traditional refunds: When discussing cancellation and postponement with your attendees, give them the option to accept a gift card rather than a refund. Make sure it is offered as an optional refund alternative, not a mandatory policy change. Show your attendees that you are willing to be flexible, and it may inspire them to help you out too.

To get started and link gift cards to your Eventbrite account, check out the Gift Up! app here. 

Note: Because every dollar counts, Eventbrite will cover the gift card fees for up to $50M of new gift cards (up to $50K per creator) until June 30th, 2020. 

3. Ask for donations

Another option that many event creators are choosing is to ask for donations. This allows fans to give what they can, acknowledging that many people are doing it tough right now. 

You might want to put on a pay-what-you-like virtual event or send exclusive video content in exchange for donations. You could also ask for people to donate what they would have spent on a ticket to help support the survival of your business. Remember to be clear about what people are paying for to avoid any confusion.  

Donations can be collected via a separate crowdfunding page, but to avoid doubling up, you can also accept donations through Eventbrite by selecting ‘Donation’ as your ticket-type for a fundraising event. This allows fans to register for an event and support your cause in a single transaction, and keeps your attendee data in Eventbrite with your other events. 

4. Promote the #KeepYourTicket movement

It’s exciting to have a ticket to a much-anticipated event — and disappointing to hear it won’t be going ahead as planned. Not everyone wants to receive a refund, with many attendees keen to hang on to their ticket so they can attend at a later date. Maybe they scored epic seats and don’t want to lose them, or maybe they just want something to look forward to post-isolation. 

If you want to postpone your event rather than cancel, communicate to attendees that your event will be taking place when it’s safe to do so, and give them the option to keep their ticket. 

The hashtag #KeepYourTicket is a growing online movement within the music industry, where fans are being asked to hold on to tickets rather than requesting a refund. While refunds should still be offered, giving people the opportunity to keep their ticket will let them show their support for your future events. 

5. Sell merchandise or goods

Depending on what kind of events and niche you’re in, you may be able to earn revenue from alternative sources to live events. Just as fine dining restaurants are switching to takeaway and delivery services, your event business may be able to sell merchandise or items relevant to your specific event. 

For example, if you run yoga events, you could sell online tutorials and exercise programs, or equipment such as mats and athletic wear. If you run food & wine festivals, you could work with your vendors to offer quarantine sampler packs and hampers for people to discover new items to enjoy at home. 

Get creative and stay in touch with your attendees past and present via email and social media to let them know how they can get involved. 

Financial assistance for the events industry

In addition to staying connected with your own events community, there are several government initiatives out there that may offer financial assistance to you and your events team. Check out our COVID-19 Resource Hub for more information on your options, including financial relief initiatives available in Australia.