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Take Your Event to the Next Level
As the hybrid event era dawns, don’t make decisions that leave big segments of your audience out in the cold. Your job is to create intersections of connectivity where more members can connect, learn and grow their businesses.
All Events are Hybrid
It can feel overwhelming, so let’s break it down.
Table of Contents
All Events are Hybrid: A Planning Workbook
As the hybrid event era dawns, don’t make decisions that leave big segments of your audience out in the cold. Your job is to create intersections of connectivity where more members can connect, learn and grow their businesses. Your audience needs to connect, learn and grow!
Members are seeking to connect in different ways. Brands are trying to connect in new, impactful ways. Last month, a broad SurveyMonkey poll showed 56% of workers say they would prefer to attend large meetings virtually from home. A Deloitte study showed 61% of executives are focusing on Reimagining Work: Achieving new or different work outcomes with new combinations of technology and people.
When the stats are coming in between 40% to 60%, it shows there are solid groups on both sides of the answer. When work goes hybrid, business events must go hybrid. That leaves organizers with two audiences (virtual and in-person) and three environments: virtual, in-person and hybrid. Add in the ubiquitousness of social media tools and phone apps that allow any and all participants to stream out content, consume content and make connections within an event organization’s universe and all of a sudden…All events are hybrid.It can feel overwhelming, so let’s break it down.
Start Strategically For Hybrid Events
Know your audience. Learn what they like and what they need -- in this new environment, not necessarily what they always loved in 2019. Talk to people, ask questions. Know WHO you serve.
Member associations are called by their mission to meet their members where they are, and feel this often more deeply than corporate brands organizing events. What is YOUR unique selling proposition and WHY do people come to you?
You create Intersections of Connectivity for humans to connect, learn and grow. The more dense your network, the higher return for attendees, exhibitors and sponsors, your organization overall. Brainstorm, with the guided questions here, HOW you will deliver compelling experiences for each of your audiences.
Enable deep networking, education and commerce across all channels, expanding reach and continuing to embrace virtual engagement as a winning long-term play. Partner with the right companies, and ask questions that you can connect back to your purpose. Always look at people AND technology solutions to problems.
Try out solutions then make them better. Ensure data is collected and collated, then sit with it as a team, to gather insights that will enable you to create even better tomorrows. Ask questions of your data.
Want more strategic tips for hybrid events? See the 5 Tips for Strategic Hybrid Events or check out our Hybrid Hour series.
Ideate the Experience
Many people balk at overwhelmingly large customer journey process discovery projects. That’s fine, but you do have to walk in your customers’ shoes. Their experience with your organization and your event colors everything they do with you in the future.
This workbook allows you to walk through the experience for each audience in each environment.
1. How will you serve digital stakeholders?
2. How will you serve the in-person stakeholder?
- What tools are you offering to enable them to connect?
3. How will you connect stakeholders across digital time and space for a hybrid event experience?
- What tools will you deploy for cross-channel connection, content consumption and even commerce?
- What kind of sinage, space, setting, software, hardware do you need in each venue?
- What types of connective experiences will you design?
- NBA/Voice Walls
- Shoot Contact Information to Each Other
- Create Gamification Around a Buddy System with In-Person and a Virtual Person
- How are you defining hybrid and communitcating the possiblities to your audiences?
Make Your Hybrid Events Better
A Companion App for Shared Experiences
For years, in events, the second screen was a way for attendees to connect deeper with content while onsite, and Ipads would be passed out for audience response, or a QR code would point people toward apps where they could ask questions, download slides and comment. Now we know the second screen is often the first, and the digital migration of society will play out at events as well.
Remember we talked about two audiences, three environments? Well, those environments are simultaneous. Whether you plan it that way or not, participants are going to pay attention to their mobile devices. When you can create a cohesive experience in those mobile devices, that’s when the second screen mentality becomes cross-channel opportunity. That’s when seemingly silo-ed participants fully enmesh themselves in the experience you designed.
The first screen is everything the eyes focus toward, whether you are an in-person attendee physically sitting in front of a speaker or whether you are a virtual attendee in front of a laptop or desktop. The second screen is the the phone, or other technology device that is in people’s hands, supporting supplemental activities, which could be in your universe, such as checking to see who the next 1:1 appointment is, or outside it on social media, email or the ESPN app.
You want physical attendees paying attention, of course. Will they? No. They are going to be on their phone anyway. Almost 90% of TV watchers are also on their mobile devices, many times for activities that enhance their viewing experience.
Know that whether or not participants are in-person or virtual, they will use their digital, mobile devices, their companion apps!
All events are hybrid. Use digital experiences to:
- Offer MORE content, year-round
- Create DEEPER engagement
- Enable CROSS-CHANNEL networking
- Boost ROI for everyone
Ask Your Tech Partner:
- Does your digital platform allow for interaction between onsite and online?
- Do you support sponsor engagement?
- Does your platform create exhibitor matches?
- Does it offer digital poster halls?
- Does your companion app help those onsite find better matches?
- Does your second screen engage introverted learners?
- Does your solution support future needs in our digital strategy?
Execute & Optimize
Goals are specific to each group and event. Overall the business of business events is to enable deep networking, education and commerce across ALL channels, to embrace more members where they are. With a 50/50 or 40/60 split in where members want to partake in activities you offer, technology is essential.
Technology vendors and digital experience partners are different. A digital experience company has more robust solutions that will enable digital transformation for you and your stakeholders, while also providing the timely solutions you need to go Hybrid.
Questions to ask yourself when selecting a tech partner:
- Will this solution enable me to acquire more attendees?
- Will it allow me to aquire deeper knowledge about attendee during onboarding with rich AI tagging?
- Will this solution allow me to create cohorts, to connect people across channels?
- Does this partner have a companion app so those in-person can interact in the tech platform and those a home have all they need for a robust experience?
- Will it suggest connections across channels, so participants can choose to connect with those all-present phyiscally or online, or even toggle to all-community and connect with anyone there physically and virtually?
- Will this solution allow me to enable Commerce? Education? Connections?
- Is this a robust soulation that helps attendees find each other and recommends connections for great matchmaking?
- Can you sell, connect, get educated and have fun across all these three channels?Is this an optimized solution that learns more as it goes?
- Does it help me create a more dense network with strong bridges from human to human?
Ideas for Truly Hybrid Events to Explore with a Tech Partner
- Physical Connection Stations
- In-Person to inperson connection stations based on AI matches (source my connections for me)
- Digital Connection Environments
- Digital Lobby
- Topic and time meetups (Physical attendees can join too on the app)
- Team experience conneting hybrid and physical as one Digital Platform and Physical Venue
- Scavenger Hunt
- Engagement Points
- Digital tools and functions used by both physical & digital
- Seat Selection
- Text Chat in Sessions
- Live Streaming (Home or Hotel Room)
Digital Transformation is Here
Investing in transactional event software that is here for three event days and gone does not affect the long-term success of your organization as deeply as transformational software that integrates digital experiences into the way you deliver on your mission. Stronger solutions have tools people can use after an event because of the strength of the connections and content. You can invite members to return often with smaller-scale events and publications.
JUNO is ushering in the Digital Transformation Era, right alongside the emphasis on Hybrid Events. Harness technology for good to connect people to data and content that will help them achieve their goals.
Use technology to make human connections.