The year 2020 saw a lot of first-times for businesses, corporations, & organizations. As the months progressed, people were forced to stay inside & a host of in-person events & meetings were cancelled.
As the world took a deep dive into the pool of Virtual Events, event planners & organizers were faced with the task of keeping people engaged & excited for each new event on the horizon.
Granted, Virtual Events were pretty much the only option in the initial months of 2020, but that didn’t mean that audience retention & engagement came easy to organizers.
Event planners & marketers were challenged with the problems of maintaining audience interaction & interest in the virtual event, along with designing virtual events with the latest cutting-edge technology.
With the pandemic showing no signs of slowing down & mass vaccination programmes still a long way ahead, event planners have no choice but to quickly pivot to Virtual Events.
Now that the physical restrictions have been somewhat lifted in most parts of the world, organizations are quickly moving towards Hybrid Events.
Hybrid Events combine the elements of a live, in-person event along with the specifications & the ease-of-access of a Virtual Event to give attendees a truly immersive experience.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a lasting impact on logistics, event venues, & attendance of participants, Hybrid Events are pretty much the way forward for the event industry in 2021.
As easy as Hybrid Events make things for organizers & corporations hosting those, they open up a whole new can of worms for event planners & marketers.
They are challenged with seamlessly combining two formats of events into one, taking care of the logistics involved in each event, staying on top of the latest event technology, & retaining audience interest in the event.
As Hybrid Events grew in popularity, event planners & organizers were also tasked with defining new success metrics, health & safety guidelines, & the technological input necessary to pull off the event.
It might sound like a tall order, but Hybrid Events, when implemented with finesse, are more than capable of leaving a lasting impression on audience members & giving them a Virtual experience encompassing the best of both worlds.
Given the marketing wonders Hybrid Events can perform for any company/brand/organization, it makes sense that the event industry is going all guns out in understanding, designing, & implementing Hybrid Events.
Which is why we have combined the top 4 expert tips event planners & organizers need to keep in mind to design & implement Hybrid Events in a better way in 2021.
Read on & become well-equipped with the knowledge needed to design a brilliant, successful Hybrid Event for your clients in 2021!
1. Think Events, Think Virtual
Even when the pandemic gives way to regular interactions & restrictions are lifted from all across the globe, there is a good chance events will continue to be held virtually.
There is a good reason for this. Event planners will be reluctant to adopt live, in-person events again considering the dangers of a second wave of infections, & venue owners will be hesitant to shoulder the onus of any medical mishaps.
Keeping these developments in mind, event planners need to pivot to a ‘Virtual First’ way of thinking, not unlike how developers are constantly in the mode of ‘mobile-first’ thinking.
Adopting the train of thought of Virtual First involves carefully studying the latest technology available to design engaging, immersive Virtual/Hybrid Event experiences for your clients & attendees.
This involves doing away with the logistics involved in designing live, in-person events, & gravitating to thinking of implementing technologies conducive for Virtual & Hybrid environments.
The first thing you need to do is utilize the existing technology to create immersive, engaging virtual experiences for your clients & attendees. This means designing Virtual/Hybrid events with Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, & introducing elements of AI & machine learning in those.
You can try creating life-like virtual/hybrid environments for your attendees with the help of VR/AR tools, & integrate mood-detecting software to gauge out the feelings of your attendees at regular intervals during the event.
This will, in turn, help you design better engagement activities & audience interactions to keep your attendees hooked on the virtual/hybrid event.
You’ll also need to design the Hybrid Event keeping the comfort & accessibility of the virtual attendees in mind. Try keeping sessions shorter, & play out information in interactive, interesting ways using engaging Audio-Video tools to keep the virtual attendees interested.
No matter what you do, it’s essential that your virtual attendees don’t feel left out or second to the physical, in-person ones at your Hybrid Event.
Success metrics for Hybrid Events also differ substantially from those of live, in-person events. Along with check-in, check-out times, registrations, & the number of attendees that signed up for any courses/trivia/activities/CTA of the event, you’ll also need to look at different metrics when it comes to Hybrid Events.
Keep a tab on measurements of the average time the virtual attendees spend on their screens during the event, clicks on any of the clickable links, & sign-ups for any online activity during or post the Hybrid Event.
Remember, whatever you do, keep in mind the virtual nature of the Hybrid Event. If you think Virtual First, you are set to scale through 2021 with a bright A on your event planning report card.
2. Hire the best talent to help you with your Hybrid Event strategy
Although 2020 has officially been the year of Virtual/Hybrid Events, event planners & organizers are still in dark about the various technical aspects of those.
Hybrid Events are set to play a decisive role in the future of the event industry in 2021, & as such, there is a need to work with the right people to design & implement perfect Hybrid Events.
Event technologists can greatly help event planners understand the various nuances of Hybrid Events, & work closely with the marketing team to design engaging & brilliant Hybrid events for your clients & attendees.
No two virtual events are the same, & there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to planning & hosting Virtual/Hybrid Events.
With the recent explosion of event technology tools, it is indeed possible to make Hybrid Events resemble live, in-person events, & Hybrid conferences look & feel like real-life ones.
These event technology tools include multichannel virtual conferences, virtual networking tables, scheduled sales meeting features, among others.
These features need not be all used at once for the Hybrid Event you’re designing, & the specific decisions relating to it can only be taken by event technology managers.
Event technology managers know the various ins & outs of the event industry, & thus have a better understanding of exactly which virtual/hybrid event tools will work best for any particular client/industry.
3. Upgrade your technical skills
Before 2020 hit, it was common practice to outsource the technical production of events. Very few event planners/hosting companies/organizations would actually look into the technical aspects of a Virtual Event.
However, as 2020 progressed, & Virtual Events started becoming more popular, it became apparent that event planners & organizers would have to get acquainted with the various technical aspects of Virtual/Hybrid events themselves.
One of the many reasons for this shift was the sizable budget cuts that companies experienced during the pandemic, leading to the growing demand for in-house event planners & event technologists.
Since outsourcing event planning to event agencies is no longer a feasible option now, it only makes sense for event planners & organizers to learn the various technological aspects of hosting Virtual/Hybrid Events themselves.
Event planners have to learn how to plan & design immersive, engaging Hybrid Events for their clients & attendees.
The only way to do this is by reading about & understanding the various technical aspects of virtual/hybrid event planning in detail & depth.
If your budget allows, you can always look for event planning agencies that have a proven track record of delivering nothing less than perfection in the Virtual/Hybrid event department.
But if that isn’t an option, then we suggest you get learning. And this is a great space to start, as we are constantly posting & discussing the latest updates & technological developments in the world of Event technology.
4. Venue selection is important, more than ever
Venues have always been an integral part of events, but now as the event industry is witnessing a rise in Hybrid Events, they are so much more important.
As event planners/organizers, you’ll need to ensure adequate safety measures for all in-person attendees that arrive at the Hybrid event venue. This includes arrangements to make the place less crowded at every possible pitstop, having proper safety equipment to ensure sanitization of the venue, & designing the event in such a way that no two sessions/activities get filled with attendees. Venues should also have a contingency plan in place for when any medical emergencies arise.
Aside from these obvious health & safety concerns, Hybrid Event venues must also be adequately prepared for the increased technical requirements of hosting Hybrid Events.
This goes way beyond just ensuring if the venue has a good internet connection, as Hybrid Event deployment requires AR/VR stations, as well as a high bandwidth internet connectivity to live stream the entire event to virtual attendees.
The venue must also be spacious enough to avoid overcrowding, & give ample space for the installation of lights & camera equipment for live-streaming purposes.
As can easily be concluded from the above discourse, event planners sure have a tough job ahead of them if they wish to stay relevant in this age of Hybrid Events.
But as they say, hard work sure reaps rewards.
If you are willing to put in the work needed to learn about the various aspects of planning & hosting a Virtual/Hybrid Event, then a bright future awaits you in the ever-changing event industry!
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