Proactively, the world is taking steps forward to re-engaging. Whether it be dining in at your favorite local restaurant, singing your heart out at a concert, or attending the most intriguing convention - people are ready to begin the journey of socializing again. Every event starts with an idea. An idea that is only capable followed by action, some might call a secret weapon, the event planner.
Moving forward the question for event planners is, “Now what?” With precautions that need to be taken, it may seem as if having a successful event isn’t possible. Last week my CEO, Len Gauger, and I had the opportunity to have a Zoom call with two outstanding event coordinators, Senior Event Coordinator for Michigan Economic Department Corp. Amy Parker and Chief of Protocol & Director of Events at the Michigan Economic Development Corp., Lindsay Kirchinger.
The conversation was refreshing. The four of us together were able to be candid and share how we are feeling about the current state of in-person events. Our discussion led to the talk of how future in-person events will look like. There was a mutual feeling of determination to return to in-person events.
“The industry is eager to get back at it,” said Kirchinger. “We’re people. We like to be around others.”
Walking away from the call (well...the camera…*wink wink* Zoom call) we could see that the future of live events is brighter than we expected. Rather than live events depending solely on digital tools and turning away from in-person experiences, the future of events will simply encounter an evolution. Organizations will be forced, in a positive manner, to become more intentional about the groups and content used to convey a topic.
Things that may have sounded ridiculous in the past, such as canceling general sessions or focusing on significantly fewer attendees per event, will in turn be advantageous for attendee engagement and improved attendee satisfaction. The key is to remember that while this may appear to be negative, it is an opportunity to grow and learn a new way to connect with your audience.
Moving from general sessions
While canceling general sessions sounds like a complete loss to reaching a large number of people at a time, the option to invest in relationships is opportune. The option to host something similar to a breakout session presents itself. As a planner, you have the liberty to specifically choose who you would like to invite to the event. Yes, you are already doing that, but now with the “breakout session” events, you can become a matchmaker, ensuring that your attendees will leave feeling valued, creating meaningful connections.
- This time of transition also calls for a time of creativity. One way you can continue to host events is a virtual event. There are a plethora of approaches to a virtual event. The most common are hybrid, webinar, and live stream. “I think the model for the next 18 to 24 months is going to be hybrid,” said Kirchinger.
- A webinar, which is a combination of the words “web” and “seminar”, is a video workshop, lecture, or presentation hosted online using webinar software. Sometimes it is hosted just with sound and other times it is hosted with video.
- Live stream, as mentioned earlier, is a real-time video presented to viewers – most commonly referring to as live video content. Streaming events provides your audience with the ability to see you in real-time and creates a more personal connection.
With general sessions no longer hosted there will be significantly fewer attendees per event. While it might not be that same buzz of a large gathering at a convention, it will allow the networking to flourish due to the focus shifting from meeting as many people as possible to developing the relationships that are available now. The decrease in numbers also allows you, as the planner, to make the event even more personal. An example would be giving out favors that relate directly to the attendees - maybe something engraved? Or prior to the event date ask the attendees what music they would like to hear and create a playlist explicitly for them.
Expand on value
The need for value in every aspect of the event is critical. Take the time to know what your attendees value and elaborate on that. The steps that have been taken above are a positive step in the right direction. Creating personalized moments, like the unique, matchmade break out sessions or engraved favors, shows your audience that you care for them and their success.
All three factors play into one another. With no more general sessions, there are fewer people attending, and with fewer attendees, the opportunity for a more personal connection is established. With a more personal connection established, valuable experience is manifested.
Choose to matchmake
Connect Space wants to see you and your events succeed. Our unique matchmaking algorithm can help you create the breakout session that your attendees need. With our matchmaking system, you are able to do more business, connect the right people, and give your members value by allowing them to be connected with suggestions and introductions to preferred businesses.
Ready to start matching? Try our free demo!