The last two years forced marketing gurus worldwide to leverage many digital tools to connect and engage with their target customers. One tool that emerged as a clear winner has been ‘virtual events.’ It has been a lifeline for brands.
As per Stastita who surveyed over 8K marketers said, 40% of events will be virtual , 35% Hybrid and the rest expect return of in-person events
The transition from in-person events to virtual in 2020 was sudden. There were some glitches, some things worked better, and some did not. But it has become clear that going virtual has its benefits for both corporates and agencies alike .
Going virtual is a bridge to hybrid events.
While the debate might continue on virtual vs in-person there is no question that ‘hybrid events’ seems to be the new normal. Hybrid events are an ideal combination of virtual and in-person events, making them a sustainable and practical option beside other advantages.
So with so many different formats the question is how should you go about planning your event ?
Here are seven most important steps in this checklist to help you any of the formats
Event Planning Checklist
- 8 months prior to event – Describe event goals, vision and objectives
- 4 months – Plan, organize and start delegating to your team
- 2-3 months – Finalize on your hybrid event platform
- 2 months – Be flexible with your content based on event format
- 1 month – Kick off communication with attendees
- Keep tab on news
- Have a backup plan
Describe event goals, vision and objectives
Even before you set out to plan your event, ask these questions to make a robust plan
- Who is my target audience?
- What is the purpose of this event? Is it marketing, networking, increasing sales, educating and so on.
- What do they expect out of the event?
- What will be a feasible date and time? (This is important especially when you have attendees in different time zones.)
Plan, organize, and delegate every minor detail
Even before you put together a team, plan every small detail of the event such as:
- Create a list of all tasks that must be done
- Create a workflow around the same
- Identify the number of people you will need on the team
- Identify who will do what
- Plan out the financials and logistics in detail
- Event promotion, registration process, data repository workflow, etc.
Once you have the detailed event plan in place, the next step is to break down the tasks, identify who within the team will do what, and delegate.
Define the tasks and deadlines clearly, there really is no room for any ambiguity here.
Identify an event platform that supports multiple event formats
Technology is the foundation of a successful virtual and hybrid event. A report by Bizzabo suggests, 90% of event marketers believe that investing in technology is important for the success of an event.
Choosing a platform that gives you the flexibility to add or reduce participants is important. The platform you choose must work on multiple devices such as a laptop, mobile, tab, etc. It should be easy to understand, navigate, and be user-friendly.
Some key features it should support are interaction with speakers, green rooms, attendee networking (virtual and in-person) and virtual booths. Leverage technology to automate and streamline operations.
Indeed, investing in a robust event platform helps automate tasks such as registrations, event check-ins and check-outs, attendance tracking, and a lot more. It brings the core team on a single platform to better communicate and streamline tasks.
Plan your collateral & content well to make it hybrid-ready
Content is the hero of any event irrespective of its format. Analyze the data you collected in the events that happened last year and make notes of what worked and what did not in terms of engagement tools, content, etc.
Plan your content based on what people liked better, what excited them more, make the content relevant and ensure it meets your objectives. Make sure that content is available for both formats – digital & physical.
Here are best practices focused on events created by our team.
Communicate and engage with the audience using ‘virtual event apps’
Talking of ‘hybrid events’ you will have attendees who will join the event virtually. It is critical to not ignore them and be inclusive with remote attendees.
Event apps will enable you to broadcast the latest updates about the event, you could create videos like movie trailers about the event and post on the app to generate interest and curiosity, provide attendees a platform to network, and a lot more.
A report by Markletic suggests that 30% of businesses use event apps for virtual events to engage better with their audience.
Keep a tab on the news
With the virus mutating, it looks like 2022 will be pretty much the same as 2021. One can expect complete or partial intermittent lockdowns depending on the spread and new wave.
When planning events in 2022, keep a tab on the restrictions and rules being imposed and relay the same to the core event management team. Places that have restrictions may require to host the event online instead of in-person.
A report by Statista suggests that by June 2021, one-third of trade shows globally were staged as hybrid events and the trend may well continue next year as well.
While it will be a welcome change to have in-person events after a hiatus of almost two years, it should not be the only option. Be flexible enough to make a switch to a ‘hybrid’ or ‘virtual’ format if the need be. The uncertain world we are living in going the ‘hybrid’ way, if need be, makes sense.
- Hybrid events can be hosted on a virtual event platform like nunify and be live-streamed at a physical location as well, so basically one event is hosted on multiple channels/ formats.
- It could be an event where some attendees and speakers come together physically at one location and those who can’t attend the event virtually.
Keep a backup plan
We can’t emphasize enough on the importance of having a backup plan ready. Any event involves multiple components, people, vendors, suppliers, and stakeholders. The challenges only add up in a virtual or hybrid event scenario. It is always a good idea to have a stand-by team, supplier, vendor in case someone from the original team is not available at the last minute. As they say in showbiz, “the show must go on.”
The event industry has been through unprecedented times since 2020. However, there have been a lot of learnings on the way and the event industry seems well prepared to navigate through 2022.
Safety and security have been the focus and will continue to be a focus in 2022 as well. Change is constant and those who embrace it are the ones who succeed. Though in-person events will always be an important element of events, virtual and hybrid formats will thrive as globally people have begun to focus on sustainability, flexibility, and safety.
One major takeaway for event planners in 2022 will be to be flexible and willing to host on different event formats to stay in the game.
Need help with your virtual and hybrid event strategy in 2022?
Speak to one of our experts today