In a digital world, today’s events must change to meet the needs of tomorrow’s attendees.
As the workforce adapts to new ways of doing business, the events industry must also look to a future of continuous digital presence.
We’ve seen it before: innovation, disruption, and transformation in everything from transportation to healthcare and our social connections. Are the marketing opportunities as follows? If so, what will drive events during this critical period and how will it affect marketers?
The need to scratch: the pent-up demand for marketing opportunities
As we continue to overcome COVID’s constraints, one thing is certain: marketers are eager to get back to normal, and that includes participating in industry opportunities.
When the pandemic hit, many brands and agencies took a break or increased their marketing budgets. Services and partnerships were restricted, launch plans were frozen and business travel was thrown out the window. All expenses were scrutinized and teams were asked to do more with less. The 2020 climate is only moderated by the promise that 2021 will be a year of recovery.
We are finally seeing signs of life as marketing budgets rise again. Understandably, many of us miss the opportunity to meet in person. As a result, attending marketing events in the future will be more intentional, more personal, and more intimate.
We all participate in opportunities for the same reasons: seek new market share and increase brand awareness, attract new customers and reconnect with existing customers, be seen and heard, or identify new trends and research. Those intentions haven’t changed, but the way we participate in events will change and organizers need to rethink their options to fulfill those intentions in new ways.
Technology already plays an important role in bringing people together in person and online. And while many marketers will want to travel to events again shortly, face-to-face opportunities will attract fewer visitors. Regional events that require less travel may become more common, and hybrid events that bring together face-to-face and virtual crowds may become the norm.
Need: the engine of virtual opportunities
When the pandemic hit, meetings and events had to move quickly to virtual solutions. Unfortunately, many aspects of face-to-face events (eg organizing meetings, visiting the exhibition, networking at festivals and events) did not translate well into their digital counterparts, and engagement was hampered.
By engaging the audience, the best digital resources remain integrated with third-party plug-ins, from transcription services to mobile app experiences, calendars, and more. In terms of focus, event organizers need to determine what is most important to their attendees. Internet? Technology acquisition? Discover best practices and trends?
How does the onsite experience change?
While the professional staff is optimistic about the return of personal opportunities, security remains the most important factor when hosting live events. Implementing security protocols that ensure social distance and sanitize and sanitize meeting rooms is as important to venues and organizers as it is to attendees.
In addition, events will improve physical and participant safety, especially for large meetings.
Finding Success with Hybrid Marketing Events
Most event organizers agree that the future of events lies in hybrid offerings. Their success depends on how well they connect online audiences with their audiences.
The idea of creating a virtual experience, in addition to a personal experience, creates unique challenges in itself. How do organizers and sponsors organize both events at the same time? What features and content should you cross and what should be unique for each experience?
Now we all understand the distractions at home and the fatigue of the conference. Event producers will need to find unique ways to engage audiences online, including live-streamed content and opportunities to participate in discussions like Q&A and real-time polls.
Hybrid opportunity models also offer new sponsorship and intervention options. Imagine some possibilities:
- Personal Sponsor and provide an excellent headliner personally and remotely to a wider audience or at a range.
- Become the brand behind a virtual/face-to-face matchmaking service
- Organize a personal poker league by participating in an online tournament
In all cases, brands can use technology to their advantage to create awareness. For example, during the conference, sponsors can share a relevant introductory video, use the bottom third of the video frames, or record in real-time during a presentation.
To help online, sponsors can leverage a mobile event app experience by moderating a mobile or desktop chat. Alternatively, they can sponsor a lounge with webcam stations to connect visitors face-to-face and virtually.
To increase engagement, sponsors can help attendees connect online and in-person by hosting a virtual treasure hunt in conjunction with trade show booths involving groups of attendees face-to-face and online, or via the event’s mobile app to be used with a “Check-in Feature” that allows participants to earn virtual points by completing activities that result in a raffle.
In the future of marketing opportunities, the sky is the limit. Success depends on budget and time constraints and the pursuit of your imagination.