Inclusivity vs. Exclusivity: Deciding What’s Right for Your Event

August 26, 2017

The philosophy of the more the merrier may be the conventional wisdom when it comes to social affairs, but should the same principle apply to professional events and conferences?

Well, yes and no.

There are times when attracting as many in-person and digital attendees as possible – an “inclusive” event – may be the key to creating a valuable experience for your client. However, other times an exclusive event, where attendance may be restricted to only the most engaged and relevant attendees, may actually be the best option for the company’s requirements.

Creating an inclusive event

For many events, the success of the experience will be judged by the number of guests who attend. After all, it’s the perfect opportunity to gain exposure for the company’s brand and products. If your client wants to reach as many people as possible, the more inclusive that you can make the experience, the more effective you will be in satisfying this objective.

Thanks to modern technology, the amount of people that you can influence with an event isn’t limited to the number of bodies packed into a single room. AV providers are now setting up video livestreaming or webcasting for clients and allowing them reach people not only in a certain region, but around the world. You can even help your client set up smaller events at remote hubs where guests can view the broadcast together, maximizing the value provided by sessions.

As an added bonus, using the appropriate audiovisual technology, you can film speakers and archive these presentations, creating assets that your clients can use later for promotional and marketing efforts and expanding the reach of their event even farther.

Google is an example of a company that executes the inclusive strategy well. In 2016, its annual I/O event was attended by more than 7,000 guests at its campus in Mountain View, California. However, that was simply the tip of the iceberg in terms of reach. Using livestreaming technology, the conference was broadcast to 530 external events located in more than 100 nations. Google CEO Sundar Pichai reported that over 1 million people streamed the event from China alone.

Opting for an exclusive event

Event planning that focuses on inclusivity is a popular choice and, for most applications, the obvious one. But despite the benefits of this type of event, sometimes your client’s needs will be better served by a more exclusive experience, focused on serving the key stakeholders who are physically present and reinforcing value via a select guest list.

When planning an event, each decision must be strategic. The AV needs and other technological components required add up quickly and cut into your budget. If a piece of tech doesn’t contribute in a significant way to meeting your client’s objectives, it’s not worth the extra expense, space and setup time.

Dedicate your budget to components that will encourage guests to physically attend the event, such as high-profile speakers – who may command high speaking fees – or interactive displays featuring virtual reality technology. Or draw guests in by creating an immersive experience using augmented reality strategies, blending the physical and digital worlds to design an experience that needs to be experienced in person.

Once you’ve determined which of these two strategies will best suit your client’s needs, you will have a better idea of the elements that you’ll need to create an event that will provide the most value, setting yourself apart as a leader in your field.