Why in-person only events should be a thing of the past
We’re turning the corner on the pandemic. Sales and marketing teams are chomping at the bit to get face to face with their clients. We all want to get back to doing incentive events in exotic locals and celebrate achievements. I understand all of this and I’m sympathetic to “Zoom fatigue” and the desire to get back onsite with my production family. But going back onsite and not bringing a streaming crew and strategy would be turning your back on what may have been the only good lesson of the last year.
We’ve all heard about hybrid events. And before you roll your eyes and ignore me cause you’ve heard it all before and don’t think it fits in your event strategy, keep in mind the all amazing ingenuity and inventiveness over the last year from everyone from online video platform programmers to content creators and artists that kept our audiences entertained, informed and engaged. Going forward, no longer do we have to settle for a simple static video feed and chat streams for our online audiences.
And we’ve also had our audiences educated for us. Before the shutdown, we would have to have put aside tech teams and training time so that we could guarantee that our online viewers would be able to connect and attend. That seems almost quaint now after a year of online meetings, sending our kids to online school, and learning to navigate all the different platforms and apps for delivery, streaming movies, and virtual doctor’s visits.
The question you should be asking yourself is why would I throw away an audience that was proven to be there? I have heard so many examples of events that INCREASED their attendance over the last year. Think about it; all the barriers to attendance are reduced. No longer are family commitments, travel complications or the expense of hotels and meals a necessary obstacle for your attendees. Why would you purposely exclude so many voices from your meetings or events just because going back onsite is now again possible. Whether you’re doing a trade show, running an incentive event, or planning a corporate event, think to yourself how you can use a hybrid event to bring together your entire audience without sacrificing the quality of the content.
And as for your on-stage talent, your options there have been expanded as well. The tools have always existed to bring talent in from all over the world, but it is now “acceptable” without a satellite feed. Speakers out of necessity have become lighting and sound aware, audiences are more receptive to glitches and drops since we’ve all been there, and two way communication is now no longer a Herculean feat to have done well. No longer do we have to sacrifice a speaker because their travel schedule doesn’t allow it.
That said, the success of your hybrid event depends on how well you can create an online experience comparable to your in-person one. One of the biggest mistakes of the pandemic event was when we simply pointed a webcam on someone who was sitting in their living rooms talking at their screen. We all got sick of those meetings pretty quick. But the more swift footed of us started virtual tastings, cooking classes, drink boxes and more… They understood that just because we are online, doesn’t mean we can’t contribute, collaborate, and share an experience. So it’s not enough to have your camera feed streamed out. Use apps to create interactivity and make sure the two audiences can communicate. Take “Gamification” beyond what most apps allow and look for inventive ways for your online audience to participate in activities (if it helps getting you into the correct mindset, think of them like mission control to a field team).
But comparable doesn’t mean the same. The real key is to understand your two audiences have two different needs and expectations and knowing that will help you gauge when and how much effort to make both audiences feel equal and when your online audience would need a break from the screen or would understand that it’s just not feasible to duplicate the experience. Then use your experience that was gained over the last year and create an environment that keeps their interest and attention. And therein may lie a real key to online success: because it’s always fashioned as how we can create the onsite experience online, but what if we give our online audience (if they are large enough of course) an experience of their own and let the onsite people join from the hotel if they wish? What a great way to productively use that moment of onsite burnout that we’ve all seen.
It’s something to ponder as we head into our new normal of hybrid events and this exciting time in meeting planning as the future is coming at us at full speed.
About Event Analytics & Design
Event Analytics & Design (EAD) is an event project management, event support, and technology management company specializing in virtual events, hybrid events & in-person/live events, registration services & attendee management, event technology, and event data analytics & engagement metrics. EAD excels in using data and technology to deliver exciting and innovative event experiences. Event Analytics & Design is a sister company to Typ A Marketing and a subsidiary of Video Illusions, Inc., a full-service production company focused on video production, web development including site design & online application implementation, brand development, multimedia creation, and corporate consulting. See all the ways that the Video Illusions, Inc. suite of properties (VIIP) can deliver a one-stop destination for all your branding, marketing, and programming needs. Headquartered in San Francisco, California, Event Analytics & Design is the brainchild of two industry experts with the mission to revolutionize the event management industry. For more information, visit www.eventanalyticsdesign.com or follow @EventANDSF on Twitter or Instagram.