Events in a post pandemic world pose new considerations, challenges, and more meticulous planning than ever before, to ensure they can be executed safely, securely, and sustainably. As we have seen, the digital boom is showing no signs of abating. The move to online hosted events has provided a wealth of benefits, from reduced costs, adhering to sustainable targets, to capturing an even larger and geographically diverse delegate base. So, what does the future landscape of events look like in a post Covid world and what positives can businesses glean, when planning events in the ‘new normal’?
There is no denying that the events industry has been ravaged by the pandemic. Many businesses have been forced to close their doors for good, and the ones that have survived have had to rapidly adapt their business models to accommodate for a new way of working. Video conferencing tools such as Zoom and Teams have been lifelines throughout the pandemic, both personally and professionally.
Many have enjoyed the accessibility these platforms provide, reducing travelling times and giving us a better work/life balance. However, as lockdowns ease across the globe, many of us have cited the craving that they have for human, face-to-face interaction. The challenge many event organisers may now face won’t be the return to the old, but rather how they can embrace new technologies and the need for face-to-face interaction.
The perfect solution to this problem can be found in ‘hybrid events’. By definition, a hybrid event combines both in-person and virtual experiences. They tap into a diverse range of benefits for businesses, enabling delegates to meet in person alongside communicating with those who attend via video, voice, or virtual sharing.
They in turn expand delegate reach and provide a more sustainable means of event planning; particularly pertinent as CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) climbs up the agenda. Hybrid event content can also be recorded and repurposed for a range of marketing activities, again reaping significant benefits for brands.
The marketing and advertising world has warmly embraced the move to digital and hybrid events. Key events on the respective calendars, from PI Live, Social Media Week London and AdWorld Conference, have all shifted the dial on their events planning, moving to a blended online and in-person event approach, providing delegates the opportunity to tap in or out, should they wish to attend in person or not, or watch the recording at a later date. Flexible and adaptable, this mirrors the new way in which we work and live.
At Hey Me, our team of experts are well versed in the world of events and understand the intricacies and challenges that go into end-to-end event planning. With that in mind, we have developed a series of top tips to help you plan the perfect hybrid event:
- Plan, plan, plan: Plan a hybrid or virtual event as you would an in-person event. Make sure you produce content that stands out from the crowd and offers potential delegates something different. Just because you won’t be meeting your attendees in person, the impact and success of your event and brand buy-in will remain the same.
- Technology: Understand the technology that you will use during your event and ensure the people who will be running the event know how to use the tools and software in advance, to avoid the ‘black screen of death’ on the day of the event.
- Venue: Explore booking a venue to host your event, to both professionalise and expand on potential marketing opportunities (e.g., pull up banners, etc.) If you don’t opt for a venue, explore hosting your event in a nice and bright space in your office, to give delegates a look ‘behind your brand’.
- Use your background to your advantage: Use the electronic background to your advantage and develop a design or template that your event speakers can use, for an additional marketing opportunity.
- Create captivating content: Harness new technology such as video, to create dynamic and interactive content that those at home can engage with. Explore using tools such as Google Hangout to create spaces or focus groups for smaller forums to meet and exchange ideas. Embed live chats in your presentations, to encourage audience interaction. Think big and go above and beyond with your online content.
- Cost: If you have both in-person and online delegates, ensure you charge the ticket prices appropriately, as an in-person delegate may receive event add ons (e.g., free lunch or marketing collateral) that a virtual delegate might not.
- Record the content: A key benefit of a digital event is the option to record event content, to share with delegates post event or repurpose for additional marketing opportunities. Explore gatekeeping this content for business development purposes, gathering contact details and new business targets with key targets, in exchange for in-depth event content.
It will be an interesting to see how the events world will embrace and adopt new technologies and balance it with the intrinsic need that we all hold for face-to-face communication. Challenging as it may be, it could herald a positive change and culminate in a step change in how the business world engages.
If you would be interested in hearing more from our team on how we can support you with your event planning or further information on how we can help promote your event, get in touch with a member of our team today.