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What is HOGO?

Diane Hall


bored children at a party

Have you ever heard of the term ‘FOMO’? This translates to ‘Fear of Missing Out’, where people feel panic or regret from not being at a party or other type of event. You can feel FOMO about events that, logistically, you probably wouldn’t have been able to even get to—it can simply stem from seeing pictures of other people enjoying themselves there. Google defines FOMO as this: ‘Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media’.

FOMO is a symptom of the Insta-generation…the social media platform where it’s not uncommon for events to appear more exciting than they may have actually been in real life.

Pictures of an event on Instagram can suggest a completely different experience than those in attendance may have documented. The fear, however, comes from the not knowing. What if the event you’ve been invited to turns out to be the party of the century? Will the night in you’ve planned be better than going out? What if something amazing happens to those who make the effort to go?

Now, let’s flip the coin…

HOGO is a relatively new term. It’s practically the antithesis of FOMO and stands for ‘Hassle of Going Out’.

I’ve certainly been in this position, more so now that the weather has turned. On one occasion, I even bought tickets to an event and subsequently had to fight the miser in me (I’m someone who enjoys spending money, but I hate to waste it) about whether I went to the event or stayed exactly where I was. The latter won out.

The evening of that particular event, the weather was absolutely howling outside; it was a weekday and work had felt particularly long and drawn out. The thought of getting changed, going out into the sleeting rain, fighting the rush hour traffic to find somewhere to park, then digging deep for the energy to be sociable…it felt much, much easier to simply write off the ticket cost.

Had I not worked that day, had it been better weather, had the event been at a time that traffic wouldn’t have been an issue…maybe I could have summoned up the energy to go. As it was, I definitely felt HOGO—it just felt like it would be an enormous hassle to go out. And, considering the alternative was to continue lolling on my settee in my comfies in front of my warm fire, I’d be lying if I said it was a difficult decision.

Tired young businessman with his eyes closed touching wet office window by his forehead

Tired young businessman with his eyes closed touching wet office window by his forehead

Covid has encouraged HOGO. Due to lockdowns, and our social lives being almost non-existent because of the pandemic, we’ve become more comfortable with staying in—even the party animals amongst us. When social distancing was lifted, some venues/events kept a modicum of restrictions, and whilst we can feel reassured that these rules exist for our safety, they can ramp up the hassle factor and make what should be a carefree day/evening into something else completely.

Some people have almost become hermits after the last eighteen months. Not only do these people work from home, they also socialise at home and occupy themselves within their four walls, too. I’m not someone who enjoys being inside for too long; however, I must admit, when we locked down in January for a few months, it became more ‘normal’ to stay home. Even the weekly food shop became a hassle—despite being the only excuse we had at that time to mix with other people.

I was keen to go back to the office when it was allowed and to start eating out again when restrictions lifted, but once I’d re-experienced these things, the novelty wore off and I wasn’t yearning to repeat the experience as much as I thought I would. Maybe this is why the hospitality sector is taking time to get back on its feet…though people will make the effort to go out and enjoy themselves, they’re not doing it anywhere near as regularly as they did before the pandemic.

So, what can businesses do to get people off their sofas? How can they ensure the events they hold are well-attended or that their venue will be full?

Perhaps take my experience above and work out what would have made me go from HOGO to FOMO. You can’t do much about the weather, but you can create an event that seems easy to get to/to park and hold it at a time when traffic isn’t too much of an issue. Promise them a much better evening than they’d experience if they (yet again) fall asleep in front of the TV at 8.30pm.

Do everything you can to minimise the hassle people will experience if they choose to attend, and also play on people’s fear that they will miss out on a fantastic night if they stay home. Emphasise that they can stay in any other night. Suggest that having no social life is not something to shout about. Tease them with what they’ll experience and enjoy…if they only get up off their sofa.

Go all out to create FOMO, and aim to dissipate HOGO.

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