The future of modern event management isn’t what we might’ve imagined fifty or even five years ago. Between COVID-19 and the speedy development of event technology, the dream “future state” of corporate conferences has moved from flying cars and neurological implants to a brave new world of hybrid engagement.
Like a match made in heaven, a successful hybrid event can engage virtual attendees and improve the experience of your in-person participants.
This might sound tricky, but the key to a hybrid approach is just finding the right tools to engage all of your participants (no matter which side of the screen they’re attending from)!
From digital event platforms to location booking platforms, we’ll dive into just a few of the ways that software can help you increase the success of your next “modern” conference.
Streamline Event Planning
Newbies to the world of hybrid conferences will make their biggest mistakes during the planning process. This is because they’re thinking of their hybrid event like one big mess of in-person and virtual activities.
Instead, you have to think of your conference as two separate events, one physical and the other virtual. This will guarantee that everyone will have a good time, from in-person participants to pyjama-clad stay-at-home attendees.
Your in-person attendees are lucky — they have the benefit of actually interacting with all of the activities and attractions you’ve planned. But your remote participants will be trickier to please. They’ll hardly be able to enjoy the same events just by watching a live stream of other people having fun.
Instead, use your virtual event platform to brainstorm unique experiences for your virtual participants, like:
- Interactive tours and walkthroughs
- Customizable, digital learning materials
- Virtual games, badges, and prizes
- Live chat rooms and video forums
- Sponsored interactive exhibits
For example, create customised chat rooms for attendees from different places, let them take a virtual reality adventure through sponsored exhibits, or offer up a vacation getaway for the winner of your digital scavenger hunt.
A dedicated virtual event platform can support all of these experiences. On top of that, you may even be able to optimise them for mobile use! That way, anyone from anywhere and with any device can enjoy the activities you have to offer.
Find and Map the Right Event Space
We’ve spent quite a bit of time talking about how to improve the modern conference experience for virtual participants, but what about your in-person audience? Winning their approval is half the battle. And if you’ve lost their interest, then your event is a wash.
Luckily, technology can do far more than just provide a cosy virtual space for remote attendees to enjoy.
There are corporate venue booking platforms that can help you pick the perfect space for your specific event. Is your conference big, or smaller and more intimate? Will it be multi-day or take place in a single afternoon? Is it outside, inside, or a combination of the two?
You don’t have to saddle yourself with all the stress of finding a venue that fits all of these criteria. Instead, a venue finding and booking solution can take the stress out of your hands.
And once you have your perfect venue picked out, event management software can help you puzzle out the logistics of what sessions will be hosted where and when.
On top of that, a virtual event platform can map out the entire space. Share these maps through a mobile event app, so in-person attendees will be able to easily navigate your venue. They’ll be able to quickly find the activities, meetings, and events you’ve organised, plus their experience will be all the better for it.
Make a Masterful Event Website
Having a strong online platform for your event won’t just make you look more professional. It can also dramatically improve the conference experience for your participants!
For virtual attendees, your web platform is their entire event venue — at least from where they’re sitting. It’s where and how they will enjoy your content, bent over their laptop screens and clicking from widget to widget.
For in-person participants, this is your company’s major marketing, registration, and event preparation resource.
It’s probably encouraged them to attend your event in the first place. It’s how they registered. And it’s what they can use before the big day to look at schedules, syllabi, and pre-conference course materials for your professional development opportunities.
To build your own sophisticated event website with all the dazzling features, bells, and whistles, use an event-specific virtual platform with a built-in website builder.
However you choose to create your site, just remember to include the following:
- Easy navigation and clear menus
- Multi-device accessibility and mobile optimisation
- Simplified registration processes
- Detailed event schedules and agendas
- Portals for virtual participant attendance and engagement
- A live streaming link of your event
These design best practices will make it easier for users to, well, use your website. And providing important resources before the event will let attendees enjoy and plan for it on their own terms.
Even the best corporate conferences can perform poorly with a mismanaged marketing strategy. What does it matter if you’ve invited rockstars to perform or offered lavish door prizes if no one’s around to enjoy them?
Level up Your Marketing
Luckily, there are software solutions that can streamline the difficult task of marketing a hybrid event.
The key is to properly leverage the data stored in your company’s database. AccuData’s data marketing article cites that data-driven marketing strategies reportedly experience 5 times the return on investment than their data-poor counterparts.
Clearly, your data is an invaluable resource. And with the right reporting and analytics tools, you can break down these raw numbers into usable information for your marketing campaign.
Whether you use a constituent relationship management system, a virtual event platform, or a bunch of spreadsheets, consider these strategies when you comb through your data:
- Compare virtual versus in-person registration to tweak what type of events you market (and to whom).
- Segment your attendees by interests, skills, and personal demographics to figure out what events they would find most rewarding.
- Find out which platforms your attendees spend the most time on, focusing on social media and similar live-work-play platforms.
For instance, if your target audience is on the younger side, then maybe Instagram and Facebook would be better for promotion than direct mail. If your anticipated attendees look like they’re going to be mostly virtual, spend a little more time making your virtual activities as engaging as possible.
Don’t stumble blindly into your next conference marketing endeavour! There are dozens of software solutions that can help you turn a string of numbers into savvy marketing strategies.
Gamify Your Event
The big day has arrived. Your conference is in full swing and your participants are milling to and from the various rooms.
But you don’t just want your attendees to be mindlessly goofing around your event. Your attendees aren’t tourists, and a truly successful conference will engage them beyond just poking at your exhibits.
To promote a rich, fun, and engaging conference, gamification tools will provide the boost you’re looking for.
Gamification refers to the practice of taking classic game elements, such as rewards, competition or teamwork, and audio-visual stimuli to increase engagement.
Here are a handful of the different ways you can leverage gamification through your chosen event software:
- Virtual badges and titles
- Leaderboards, both digital and physical
- Digitally joinable mini-games and quizzes
- Breakout sessions and community-building activities
You’ll surely stir up excitement by splitting your attendees into teams, sharing the leaderboard, and giving gift baskets to the group with the greatest “participation score.”
Or you could promote team bonding for all of your attendees by having them work together to crack a secret code, the clues for which you’ve tucked away in your event app and venue.
These activities are fairly easy to host with the right tech and they can create a stunning impact on your overall conference experience. From third-party extensions to all-in-one event management solutions, there’s a way for any conference planner to roll out these powerful engagement tools.
Boost Post-Event Success
Your event isn’t over once the day (or days) is done. What you do immediately after your conference doors close can maximise the impact of the event itself and even future events.
- Send appreciation emails to your attendees
- Share a post-event website with additional resources and highlights
- Give sponsors the tools to reach out to interested participants
- Send post-event experience surveys
- Ask attendees if they’d like continued access to “evergreen” content
- Invite attendees to form communities on your online platform
- Analyse attendee attendance and engagement among your different events, speakers, and exhibits
Just picture yourself in your attendee’s shoes: You’ve just driven home from a conference. It was fun and well-planned, but you’re already thinking about work and your attention is drifting.
The next morning, when you’ve started to forget about the event, an email lights up your inbox. The organisers want to know what you think and have given you access to tons of interesting content that you’ll be clicking through for months to come. See the difference?
You can launch these strategies on your own, but technology is an asset that can ease the burden. Constituent relationship management, event management, and virtual platform software can make it easier than ever to roll out these post-event messages.
A Closing Word
It’s understandable to be a little intimidated, or at the very least unsure, about the future of your conferences. Luckily, no matter what new curveballs the world has left to throw at you, the technology needed to engage your audience is ready to adapt to these changes.
Hybrid events are a constantly evolving breed with fun new ways to engage your attendees popping up by the day.
So as your audience changes and their interests and expectations change with them, this modern event type and the right software will be there to satisfy their appetites.