All of us in the event world are looking forward to 2021 with a lot of tough calls to make. We can’t predict the future, but we have to begin planning for it – now! No matter how things unfold, there isn’t going to be a flip of a switch back to normal. We will enter a transitional gray area with ongoing lifts of restrictions and improvements to public health and safety.
As legal mandates fade away, the decisions about how to approach a COVID-conscious event will be your choices to make. Some of the questions we’re all considering are things like:
- Are we too conservative or too optimistic?
- How can we be flexible, so we’re ready for whatever 2021 brings?
- What will our attendees, sponsors, and industry think about our choices?
- And the big one – in-person, virtual, or both?
Hybrid Covers All the Bases
Once there’s the option to hold in-person events, a hybrid event will be the only way to go. You can cover both bases and include everyone – those who are running full speed back to normalcy and those who aren’t.
You Need In-Person
Well, I think this is obvious. People like events! We’re social creatures! Virtual events give many opportunities, but there’s no debating that face-to-face human connection builds relationships in a way that’s hard to replicate online.
But, You Also Need Virtual
- Safety: Until COVID is completely handled, there will be a certain amount of people who aren’t going to travel or attend large gatherings. If you don’t offer a virtual option to your event, you will be excluding a lot of people.
- Cost: This past year has shown that many things usually done in one room can be replicated virtually, and it works perfectly fine. This means that employers will be thinking more critically about the necessity of paying for airfare, travel, and attendance for in-person gatherings. More people are going to be asking, “Do you REALLY need to be in Miami to listen to that presentation?”
Thinking about going hybrid for 2021? Already decided and looking for ideas?
There’s good news and bad news. The good news is that a hybrid event has twice as many opportunities to engage attendees and sponsors. You can bring people together and also meet people where they are. The bad news is that a hybrid event is essentially a double event – which means double the work. But, with the right strategy, you can pull off an engaging hybrid event as efficiently as possible.
When you’re planning your hybrid, here’s 3 P’s to keep in mind.
How are you going to make the magic happen? In the past, you may have live-streamed or recorded sessions from your event for online viewing. However, you can’t just stick a camera in the back of your ballroom and call a YouTube link a virtual event. In 2021, as an industry, we’re going to need to kick it up a notch. Your virtual attendees are going to have higher expectations in a post-pandemic world. They are going to want opportunities to ask questions, network, and actively engage with your event. Your sponsors will want effective opportunities to engage all attendees, even the ones joining from home. Make sure you’re thinking about having the people, equipment, and plan in place to bridge the gap between the two versions of your event.
- Livestreaming: Create a high-quality video experience with multiple cameras, graphic overlays, and more from a professional production team
- Recorded Sessions: Create polished, edited video presentations to be shown both on-stage and online, with a live Q&A that includes questions from attendees in-person or remote.
Which platform to use is always a big question for any virtual event. For a hybrid event, it’s important to consider flexibility. Bringing together a virtual and in-person event in an engaging, unified way is a new challenge. You are going to be seeking solutions for the unique needs of your event. Whether you need to have a board meeting or a happy hour –you want to create an environment where people on-site and online can both engage and feel like they’re on an even playing ground.
You’re going to want a platform that allows you to create a user experience that makes your creative ideas come to life. Maybe you set up iPads at the bar for drinks via Zoom or put cardboard cutouts of your attendees in the audience (like Major League Baseball).
New virtual event solutions are popping up every day for different niches – like a digital networking session. If you have a platform that can seamlessly bring together specialized tools, you can explore the possibilities and create a perfectly tailored platform. You can check out our platform and contact us if you want to see first-hand everything your event can be with the Taoti Virtual Events Platform.
You already know how to develop and stick to a budget for your regularly held events. To expand your event to a digital setting, you have additional costs to keep in mind. The audiovisual needs on-site may be increased due to a higher quantity and quality of recording and streaming. You may need to peruse additional technologies to support your robust event – including upgrading your event management system and your virtual event delivery platform.