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Top 3 Strategies for Virtual and Hybrid Events in 2021

by Neha Mallik
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Virtual Events exploded in 2020 and trends show they will continue to be an incredibly useful and cost-effective way to reach a large audience even after the pandemic subsides. In-person events on the other hand will make a much-awaited comeback this year. 

Most eminent Event Marketers predict that the future will be Hybrid events. And with that come the challenges that both formats of events bring – attendee engagement, availability of experts, and alignment of sales and marketing teams.

In this blog, we talk about the key strategies one should follow to ensure the success of virtual and hybrid events in 2021. Let’s get started:

  1. Think Hub & Spoke model

Plan every large virtual conference as the hub for major corporate keynotes and sessions, but extend it to multiple smaller events in local regions or by business units. The regional teams can cater to the needs of the local audience and more precisely customize the messages and products or services to them.

There has been a significant shift toward smaller meetings and events. Since July 2020, most event management companies report 40% of all RFPs from their supplier network were for small events and that 90% of those small events RFPs are less than 50 rooms on peak.

2. Strong Events and Marketing Teams Collaboration

Any event is a humongous task that involves the efforts of all teams – from the events team in setting up the event, to the marketing team to create buzz, and the sales team to meet with important prospects, clients and customers. Digital event execution requires a stronger blend of planning and marketing mindsets and skillsets to maximize their reach. For example:

i) Event professionals need to get more involved in pre-production of digital content  

ii) Systems must integrate with sales and marketing systems

iii) Digital marketers can offer expertise in digital automation

iv) Regional and field marketers know how to engage with customers and drive coordinated attendee experience

3. Be Creative with Content

One of the most crucial aspects of a virtual event is the content. From driving attendance to keeping your audience glued to, to engage them –  it is the very core of the entire attendee experience. Attendees are more likely to get distracted at virtual events, with so many options available just a click away! You may thus need to consider spreading the event out over several days, provide live and on-demand content options and keep sessions short and informative.

If each of your sessions looks and sounds the same, is of the same duration, the audience will lose interest. You could host a whiteboard session that allows viewers to easily give inputs and a roundtable that brings experts together for a unique debate — in addition to more traditional sessions like a keynote or panel.

 Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

i) Be aware of session length. Keep sessions shorter than you might at an in-person event.

ii) Ensure your event content is actionable and has clear takeaways as that will help your guests validate their investment in your event 

iii) Have a dedicated host for the event who guides the audience through the course of the event

iv) Train speakers before the event and ensure their equipment is working.

v) Integrate engagement opportunities, such as live Q&A and polling, quizzes, and games into the sessions.

vi) Test your technology and record the sessions that will be on-demand ahead of time.

In our next blog, we will talk about the most important aspect of strategizing for virtual and hybrid events, and that is driving ROI from these events. Stay tuned!

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