By: Encore Research

According to Meeting Professionals International [MPI], over half of meeting planners say their next in-person meeting is contingent on the distribution of a safe and effective vaccine. In the February 2021 edition of The Meeting Professional, MPI shares results from their winter 2021 Meetings Outlook survey.

Virtual Events and Hybrid – Keeping Us Connected

While planners keep an eye on the long-term safety of mRNA vaccines, they turn to virtual and hybrid formats to stay connected and offer value. A live hybrid event combines a group of in-person and online participants in different locations. Wherever they’re viewing from, participants are looking for a collective and individual experience that’s positive and memorable – through their eyes.

Attending in-person is a weighty decision based on comfort level with traveling, risk/reward analysis with what they expect to gain and experience, and how they prefer to engage with others. In an era of customer experience and targeted marketing, hybrid and virtual experiences cater to a person’s comfort level with live events, learning style, desire to network, and desire to travel.

Make Hybrid and Virtual Events Memorable

And so, more than ever, it’s critical to really know your audience to know what to prioritize for your in-person and digital experiences.

Setting up a camera on a tripod and streaming it for your audience might be appropriate for a single presentation, but it won’t work well for an annual meeting or congress.

Meet their experience needs by putting yourself in their shoes at EVERY stage of your event, just as you do with your in-person attendees. With creativity and the right partnerships, you can effectively find solutions that won’t break your budget. For example, at an in-person annual meeting, your audience is overcome by the environment. There’s a buzz in the main concourse. People are mingling, walking from space to space; there are branding elements everywhere. How do you recreate that excitement online? Use a hand-held camera and do a live walkthrough in your event space. With in-person attendees in the background, highlight fun or unique areas onsite as well as in your event app. Pre-record segments from in-person or remote attendees asking them to share what they’re most excited about and play those segments at the beginning or during breaks.

Vary the Experience – Based on Audience and Meeting Type

The example above does not work for every event type and audience. The point is to develop an experience specifically targeted to those personas in your audience. Fostering that feeling of a shared experience increases your value proposition. Why? People feel seen, and their needs get met.

How else can you break the monotony of viewing online or sharing a new meeting format? Use an event platform. Engagement tools during your educational opportunities allow your audience to check in with themselves about what they’re learning, engage with your presenters, and chat with other participants. Plus, it’s one solution you can use for both onsite and online participants. Two-way communication and feedback through chat, questions, gamification, and other methods, plus the ability to review additional materials, can all reside in your platform and elevate the virtual or hybrid experience.

Other Hybrid Experience Types

For those who prioritize meeting like-minded people and building their professional network, a local meetup in smaller numbers or ‘pods’ might benefit both your in-person and remote attendees. They may not be willing to travel across the country, but they may consider meeting with others across town. How can you best serve them? What do you need to invest in? Don’t be afraid to try new things. Implement and measure. The reward is customer loyalty and attrition when you develop an authentic understanding of your audience. Want to learn more about creating hybrid event experiences? Check out this upcoming session in our Professional EDge How to Hybrid series: “A Meeting Environment to Suit Every Hybrid Experience,” airing live on March 17th at 12 p.m. ET and later on-demand.


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