(Updated December 2020)
It’s safe to say that 2020 has been an interesting ride for us in the evenings industry. A massive shift has happened from in-person events to virtual as the pandemic has taken the freedom of being able to go to our usual 200+ attendee conferences, or work in an office with our team mates. Hybrid digital events are the new ‘norm’ for the foreseeable, why not make the most of this exciting new journey?
As we look into the future of meetings and events for 2021, one thing is certain - no one knows what could happen or what is on the horizon. One thing we are all sure of though, is that virtual and hybrid events are here to stay and will become permanent fixtures in most go-forward event programmes.
Now is a perfect opportunity to engage and reach out to new audiences, not just your network - this need is larger than ever before. Although it's great your company may now be reaching out to a different audience, maybe even much larger companies or clients - this requires practicality and a shift in your strategy. Where your main aim may have been just planning one big in-person event, maybe your mindset is to plan several smaller virtual events. With virtual events in mind, technology will certainly be moving to the forefront - but how do you make the pivot from in-person to digital? The need to modernize your process and simplify your actions is becoming critical for event success.
What’s the current situation?As many of you will agree, meetings and events look very different to how we expected when this year started. There has been sudden disruption and the impact it has had to our industry has been unbelievable - but lets not let a pandemic ruin us. Many companies have been forced to reevaluate their structure, as well as working area, and most importantly their event programmes they had planned. Deciding upon a path forward has been tricky for many, but has also been very costly as millions of revenue has been at risk.
Although 2020 has been challenging and unfortunate, it has been a great time to become innovative and think on our feet. With this change in our industry as well as the world, there has been a massive acceleration of digitization and use of new technology. I’m sure many of you had never dreamed of multiple video calls a day - had you even heard of Zoom? According to CVent’s recent post, McKinsey has announced that “We have vaulted five years forward in consumer and business digital adoption in a matter of around eight weeks.” Although this is very intimidating, it's exciting to be innovative and put the technology we have to use. In a recent webinar, Julius Solaris from Event MB mentioned that "we have to adapt our mindset for the future", which is excellent advice.
Where are we going?It’s safe to say that virtual and hybrid events are here to stay - whether you like it or not. In a recent study completed by PCMA, 76% of planners have made the move to go virtual. Where you usually decide where you’re going to host your event - this is where technology comes in, technology is the new venue. Digital events not only allow you increase your target audience, but also allows you to enjoy new levels of digital engagement.
With the current increase in the virtual world, the need for consistent technology is required. Using digital channels to host your event means the success of the event depends upon the marketing used but also the importance to capture the data and insights which can lead to future event successes.
How do you start upon deciding on the technology out there?This is where we come in. There is an abundance of technology out there, where do you even begin to start? During this tough time, where organisations may have a tight budget, they cannot afford to waste money on systems which are quite frankly - useless.
Here at EventMind, we offer an unbiased opinion on the best event technology for you and your event. We have recently discussed a review on current virtual event platforms out there, but our friendly team is always available for a conversation on how to pivot your events digitally, we are the specialists.
One strategy with one event platformWhilst running a total events programme requires a cohesive strategy and deep understanding of what you aim to achieve, it shouldn't be overwhelming making the switch to digital. Once you have come up with your event strategy, the next step is to decide upon what type of platform you’re looking for. Whether the events you’re looking to host are hybrid or virtual, one event platform can be used to ensure the success of your event.
Attendee engagementMany organisations are all pondering the same question - but how does attendee engagement work? Let me ask you a question - have you ever attended an online webinar? Or have you ever streamed an online workout class? For many people the answer will be yes. The engagement of digital events really are stunning - the popularity for them have rocketed up, with many people even suggesting that the engagement of virtual events can be even higher than in-person as long as you plan correctly. On a recent Event MB webinar, Joe Schwinger, CEO of MeetingPlay said that to have a successful hybrid event as an example and to boost virtual engagement is to "make your virtual attendees feel like they aren't second class citizens, make them feel involved and safe."
Believe it or not, there really is event technology out there that offers a true virtual platform, which is designed to capture engagement as long as the use of immersive virtual sessions is used. Not only is it important to have a successful virtual live event for many organisations, but to make the event available on-demand, so your audience are able to catch up on anything they have missed - a bit like on demand TV, right?
Why not have a look at the below points to give you an idea of how to engage attendees to a maximum?
SponsorshipOk, so we all understand that sponsorship is critical for many events and can contribute to the success of the event. Sponsorship doesn’t just work for in-person events, why not bring your previous sponsors online? Invite them to your virtual events, and use your social media to shout from the rooftops about them!
Using event tech allows your sponsors to manage their own profiles, and engage with your audience to maximise their ROI. For example, at your virtual welcoming booth at a conference - why not allow your sponsors to meet and greet your attendees? It is important to have a ‘contact us’ section at all your booths, so any event attendees can share their information. If a further conversation is required after your virtual event, then you will have the correct information to jump on a video conference, or have a one-to-one conversation.
2021 is on the horizonAs mentioned, 2020 has been a very bumpy year but there’s no going back. This year has proven that the events industry really is strong and adaptive - with virtual and hybrid events being the new normal. As 2021 is on the horizon, it is time for you to consider the move to the virtual world, and find the event technology that works for you to lead to your event success.
EventMind does not endorse any particular virtual event platform or software. We review the platforms available on the market monthly (through a combination of client feedback, test events and demos). If you're looking to make online events simple, or want trusted and unbiased advice, then contact the team today by emailing email@example.com or calling 0330 133 3485.