John D’Adamo is Head of US Sales for U.K.-based hybrid events platform VenuIQ. Based in Florida, he boasts more than 10 years of experience within the events industry and has built long-standing relationships with some of the world’s most respected brands. His appointment and goal of establishing VenuIQ’s American entity mark a pivotal moment in the company’s development.
The Hybrid Event Toolkit: 5 Steps to Making Your Activation a Success
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the events industry was forced to quickly pivot to an alternative format incorporating video and networking software, and virtual events soon became the norm to keep the industry moving safely.
Now that venues have reopened, and a pathway to normality is forming, hybrid will continue to play a crucial role in allowing organizers to combine the best features of virtual, such as global accessibility, with the elements that make live events so popular, like networking.
Try using this toolkit to help you navigate and make the most of this new era of the events industry.
1. Refine your ecosystem
The attendee experience is vital for ensuring attendees are satisfied and excited to return should your event run again. Therefore, after choosing an appropriate event technology provider, building a relationship with them to make sure you are getting the most out of the services they provide is key to creating an easy-to-use and consistent ecosystem.
Using the same vendor for as many aspects of your event as possible is a great way to create fluidity across live and virtual components and helps make the experience as seamless as possible for those attending.
Working in true partnership with your event tech company will move the focus from disjointed apps, websites and video software to the content that is provided across one, unified software provider.
2. Take advantage of AI
Often seen as a buzzword in today’s tech landscape, Artificial Intelligence has already proven its worth to event organizers looking to run winning hybrid events.
AI is currently being utilized to improve efficiency across the events industry, and we are set to see greater and deeper integration in line with the increased reliance on the live aspect of events. For example, U.S. AI software company Celayix uses machine learning to create non-conflicting and effective schedules that ensure the most efficient teams are using their time in the best way possible. For events, this can mean sending the relevant delegates to the most influential talks and presentations without impeding work or leisure time.
Giving as many tasks to AI as possible will allow you to focus on content to create the best attendee experience possible. From automatic scheduling and attendee management to live dictation for subtitles and translation, integrating AI now is a futureproof way to increase operational efficiency as the tools become more refined and readily available.
3. Restructure your budget
When spreading your event budget across both live and virtual platforms, traditional events management finance models can quickly become dated. Therefore, take the time to restructure your budget to ensure event attendees—both virtual and live—benefit.
For example, adjusting your catering budget to accommodate for fewer attendees could give you scope to further invest in video conferencing software without detracting from the experience for those attending in-person. There is a range of software available to support these decisions, including the intuitive Mint mobile app. Managing and tweaking your budget on something like Mint in accordance with external factors will allow for more effective and managed spending.
With the event industry recovering from an unprecedented period of uncertainty, return on investment is key, and sensible and measured budget adjustments can ensure more tickets are sold, helping you recoup money lost throughout the pandemic.
4. Structure your event to benefit attendees
Being considerate of both virtual and in-person attendees is vital in making them feel comfortable, welcomed and valued, and the structure of your event will dictate whether both parties feel like a part of the event or merely an onlooker.
Implementing virtual Q&A software to allow all attendees to engage, as well as holding smaller, intimate in-person seminars, can create an inclusive atmosphere that leaves all attendees satisfied with the return on their ticket purchase.
Proving the worth of your event with a structure that benefits all is key to encouraging them to return year-on-year and converting virtual attendees to live when the time comes.
5. Invest in interactivity
As already mentioned, the balancing act of catering for both virtual and live attendees is key for creating a truly beneficial experience that delivers value for the businesses paying for their employees to attend.
There is no doubt that the virtual experience is different from live, but it also opens up unique opportunities for those who choose to attend remotely.
For example, a virtual mixology evening session from a vendor such as Cocktail Curations can extend the delegate experience beyond the event venue and leave a lasting impression of being more than just an event and instead, an experience. Alternatively, wellness sessions can give virtual and in-person attendees the chance to take some time to themselves and slow down among the busy events schedule while demonstrating your commitment to self-care for your guests.
Interactive sessions are proven to increase engagement levels among all event audiences and can also make your activation stand out against the hundreds of events returning across the country.
The Bottom Line
With fewer live attendees expected at events for the foreseeable future, smaller venues, less catering and skeleton on-site staff can all allow you to save money, which you can reinvest into enriching a hybrid event and making it truly unforgettable.
By following the above steps and adapting with the changing landscape, you can create an engaging and memorable event experience for all, no matter how they choose to attend.