While it is natural for everyone to feel frustrated and pessimistic after the pandemic year of 2020, there are many reasons to remain optimistic as we move toward the future. All of the live, in-person events that were canceled could have led to financial ruin for event organizers and associated parties. However, the increased digitization of live events, and the world as a whole, opened up new possibilities for exhibitors, event sponsors, and the prospective and existing members whom these groups wish to reach.
This guide will serve as a summary of our longer eBook on hybrid event planning and how associations can seize the opportunity to make hybrid events better than their fully virtual and fully in-person predecessors.
The Current State of Event Planning
As the events of 2020 unfolded, we gained unique insight into the preferences of the average person. With regards to work, shopping, and event-attending; we saw that many people not only tolerated virtual and hybrid set-ups, they actually preferred them.
Therefore, as event organizers and associated organizations move forward with live events, it is important to keep in mind that many people will still want to have the option of attending in a remote capacity, while others will want to return to the live experiences they’ve come to love from pre-2020 years.
Pre-Event Marketing and Engagement Strategies
Hybrid events come with many positive aspects that weren’t previously accessible through purely in-person events. Now, event organizers can reach people all across the world through their pre-event marketing, as well as during their events. In light of this new global marketing potential, associations need to pay special attention to their pre-event marketing and engagement strategies.
One area you’ll want to consider heavily before your event is your online presence. Generating a list of all potential avenues of marketing and reaching prospective attendees can go a long way in creating excitement for the upcoming event. This includes the creation and utilization of:
- Posts on all associated social media accounts
- Websites dedicated to the sponsors and exhibitors at the event
- Emails and newsletters
- Any other mediums in which potential attendees can be reached before the event
After you’ve established these potential marketing and promotional tools, you’ll want to ensure that you have an exceptional event website that is the go-to place for all questions related to the event. This website should clearly outline the “W’s” of your event: when, where, what, why, and who. Links to all of the key speakers, sponsors, products, etc. should be easily accessible on this site, as well as answers to other common questions such as when and where the event is taking place, safety precautions that will be in place, etc.
The event website will also serve as an easy means to register attendees before the event. Your registration page should be simple, straightforward, and attendees should be able to complete the process in seconds. Utilizing auto-fill technology and prompts will help to streamline this process.
How to Engage Attendees During an Event
Now that you’ve completed your pre-event checklist, generated buzz about the event, and have attendees ready and waiting for your event to take place; you need to consider how you will keep these individuals engaged throughout your hybrid event.
One way to ensure that attendees don’t become frustrated or put off on the day of your event is to streamline the check-in process. Make sure that you have plenty of check-in options such as:
- Multiple kiosks
- Staggered check-in times
- Different check-in days (if the event is going to take place over multiple days)
Another issue that bears consideration during the event, is attendee boredom during the sessions. For both virtual and in-person sessions, you’ll want to ensure that you vary the presentation formats. The use of polls, surveys, Q&As, quizzes, and other varied methods of engagement can go far in keeping your attendees interested and engaged throughout the entirety of the event.
The Value of Post-Event Performance and Data Analysis
Once your event has concluded and the attendees have all logged off or gone home, your job is far from done. You’ll now need to pay close attention to the analytics gathered during the event to see what people liked, didn’t like, and why they felt this way.
An effective, tried-and-true method for gauging how people felt about various parts of your event is to send out engagement surveys. How your attendees respond to these surveys will be paramount to the success of future events and will guide any changes that you may need to make going forward.
Collecting data about the event is another essential step. You’ll want to get as much information as you can about the number of registrants, how attendees interacted with social media accounts and other services associated with the event both before and during the event, demographics of attendees, and so much more. This data will be invaluable for you to modify and improve your future events.
More specific analytics, such as the number of time attendees spent engaging with certain aspects of presentations, are gold mines of information as well. This information, combined with data from post-event surveys and all of the other particulars collected from the event can give you an overall picture of what worked and what didn’t during your hybrid event.
How Your Tech Stack Impacts Event Success
Many of the steps mentioned above rely on efficient, effective technology that can accommodate your needs. You can have the perfect hybrid event pictured in your mind, but if your technology is unable to keep up with what you have planned, it’s likely that your event will not come to fruition, and you’ll be left scrambling as things begin to unravel.
The perfect technology stack for a hybrid event should include, at a minimum:
- A single, integrated platform
- Options for customization
- Effective support available at all times
- Options for analytics pre, during, and post-event
- The ability to adapt to your event’s unique needs, not the other way around
You can put together the perfect hybrid event, but you need a technology partner that will work with you throughout the process.
Aventri's fully integrated event management platform helps associations unite virtual and hybrid event experiences to increase engagement and leverage the power of analytics. Request a demo to find out more.