The Covid-19 pandemic has required event managers to devise creative strategies for safely conducting corporate events. Although virtual and hybrid (part virtual, part in-person) events were initially offered as safer alternatives to in-person events, event managers are finding that these two formats offer additional benefits.

Virtual and hybrid events allow attendees to access the event from anywhere globally, which leads to higher attendance rates. Operating costs are also lower for these two formats because there’s no need to rent a venue (or as large a venue). For these reasons, virtual and hybrid events are expected to stick around post-pandemic.

However, for all of its benefits, the hybrid event format can make networking more challenging. It doesn’t readily allow for the kinds of spontaneous networking opportunities found at in-person events. Hybrid event attendees are looking to build effective relationships with like-minded professionals and expert event managers to facilitate those interactions. But how can event managers foster an effective networking experience when some attendees participate via an online portal and others are at the physical event site?

During breaks, in-person attendees will typically assemble and interact with one another, while virtual attendees will use an online forum to network. How can an in-person attendee network with a virtual attendee?  Also, how can the virtual attendees feel as much a part of the event as those attending in person?    

Although challenging, event managers can create a positive networking experience at hybrid events. Here are eight ideas for making it happen:

1.   Devise a Plan

To make the most of the hybrid event experience and offer attendees the networking opportunities that most interest them, event managers must be cognizant of what attendees really want. If some attendees have opted to participate in person, how eager will they be to interact with virtual attendees?  Will virtual attendees be satisfied connecting only with other virtual attendees?  A pre-event poll could prove helpful in ascertaining how best to facilitate networking at your hybrid event.

If you find that the majority of both in-person and virtual attendees are interested in connecting between groups, plan to provide a way for them to communicate and collaborate. The method that you decide to implement shouldn’t feel forced.

2.   Connect Both Groups Using Technology

Designate an on-site space/room for in-person attendees to log into your virtual event platform and have face-to-face video chats with virtual attendees. In-person attendees could also connect to the virtual platform via their phones or laptops.

Event managers can also use virtual matchmaking tools such as vFairs to connect in-person attendees and to connect virtual attendees. These tools allow attendees to be matched based on profiles and chat face-to-face or via online chat.

Using social networking platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn offers additional opportunities for attendees to connect. By creating an event hashtag and encouraging attendees to track it, you’re providing another way for them to find others who are talking about the event.

3.   Enable Face-to-Face Interaction

To keep both in-person and virtual attendees fully engaged, provide opportunities to connect in a way that allows face-to-face interaction. There are various methods for accomplishing this:

  • Set up breakout rooms for group discussions
  • Integrate the virtual platform into the in-person event space
  • Arrange for both in-person and virtual speakers to answer questions from both attendee groups

4.   Include In-Person Attendees in Virtual Group Chats

It’s common for virtual event attendees to post comments or ask questions within the virtual event space. Consider giving in-person attendees at your hybrid event the opportunity to do the same. They’ll appreciate it even more if you allow them to access the discussion group via their smartphones for easy access and mobility.

You could also use a large projection screen to show in-person attendees what virtual attendees are saying within the online discussion group.

5.   Include Virtual Attendees in Breakout Rooms

If your hybrid event will have breakout rooms or include activities (scavenger hunts are popular breakout games), take advantage of technology to allow both in-person and virtual attendees to participate. Make sure your venue can accommodate your equipment and technology needs.

6.   Let the Games Begin

Another way to encourage interaction between in-person and virtual event attendees is to incorporate games into the hybrid event. Healthy competition is an ideal way to unite groups. When teams are created, their shared goals (winning the game) will foster invaluable networking opportunities.

7.    Don’t Forget Virtual Attendees’ Swag

To ensure that virtual attendees feel as much a part of your hybrid event as in-person attendees, send them the same swag (welcome packet) they’d receive if they attended in person. Also, send any items required to participate in activities.  

 8.   Don’t Underestimate the Value of Surprise

Although there’s something to be said for executing a well-structured event, add excitement for attendees by creating unexpected moments. An event that’s too structured could cause attendees to lose interest quickly. Leave space in the itinerary should attendees want to connect with friends or start a spontaneous face-to-face chat.

Final Thoughts

Planning an event in any format can be challenging but planning a hybrid event presents unique challenges. Event managers are tasked with ensuring that both in-person attendees and virtual attendees have a positive experience. In fact, a survey conducted by Swapcard found that of 352 event planners polled, 33.5% stated that their biggest challenge when hosting hybrid events was engaging two audiences. Most managers find that connecting the two groups of attendees allows for more organic networking opportunities and makes it easier for speakers and moderators to engage with all attendees.

With adequate planning, creativity, and taking advantage of available technology, managers can provide all hybrid event attendees with opportunities to make meaningful connections. At eShow, we provide event managers with customizable web-based solutions and interactive networking tools that make it easy for attendees and speakers to connect before, during, and after the event. We can provide everything you need to manage all aspects of your event – from planning to execution.

 Contact us today for a no-obligation demo.

One of the beautiful things about in-person events is the ability to make true connections with the people you meet. Whether you’re interacting with clients, vendors, or speakers, there’s just something about being able to engage in natural, organic conversations.

The good news is, it’s totally possible to spark memorable conversations during your virtual or hybrid events as well! The key lies in taking deliberate steps to increase interaction in ways that create a natural and exciting experience for your attendees. Start with these tips.

1. Allow for Detailed Profiles

Allowing attendees to create detailed profiles is one of the best ways to encourage engagement. Make sure your virtual event platform gives online attendees the ability to add a photo, bio, contact info, and more. Not only will this allow everyone to showcase their personalities and interests, but they’ll also easily be able to follow up with each other after the event is done.

2. Add a Private Social Feed

Adding an environment where both in-person and virtual attendees can chat with each other during the event will create bonds. This will also allow them to share their thoughts and ideas and interact with each other in a way most people are already familiar with. To ensure the best possible participation, make sure you let attendees know about the platform ahead of time and encourage them to use it throughout the event.

Once your social feed is in place, you can also spark interesting conversations by asking interesting questions. This may be something event-specific, like “Which upcoming speaker are you most excited to see?” or something more random, like “What smell brings you back to your childhood.”

3. Use Breakout Rooms

Using a virtual event management platform will allow you to incorporate breakout rooms into your virtual and hybrid events. By allowing smaller groups to get together at certain points during the event, you’ll give everyone a chance to speak, ask questions, and share their thoughts and opinions.

4. Make it Fun!

No matter how exciting your event is, sitting in front of a computer all day can start to feel a bit boring. Break things up by adding in some fun and light-hearted sessions throughout the day or, at a minimum, at the end of the day. Virtual happy hours have grown in popularity. If that doesn’t appeal to your audience, you could add a cocktail class, virtual baking class, or a fun craft.

You can also involve your sponsors by having them offer swag that goes along with your planned event. For example, a sponsor could mail each attendee a cocktail glass engraved with their logo. While this is will require some pre-planning to make sure all attendees have the materials they need, the payoff is well worth it.

5. Add a Chat Feature

Providing a chat feature will keep your off-site attendees engaged and ensure they feel like they’re an important part of the event. By allowing attendees to chat with each other, you’ll also encourage personal connections that they can pursue after the event has ended. For best results, make sure your platform allows for both group and one-on-one chatting.

6. Group Attendees by Interests

During sign-ups, it’s a great idea to ask attendees why they’re joining the event or have them choose from a list of interests. Then, when you’re planning your smaller breakout rooms, you can use this information to match up attendees based on their shared interests.

7. Create Comfortable Spaces

When planning hybrid events, it’s important to pay attention to the comfort of both on-site and off-site attendees. In addition, you’ll also want a set-up that makes it comfortable for in-person and virtual attendees to interact with each other.

Luckily, there’s plenty of modern technology that does just that. Many event spaces are already equipping their conference room with systems that help everyone communicate. While it’s normal to focus on the comfort of your in-person space, it’s also critical to make sure you can make it work for everyone. Live attendees must feel that they have enough space to walk around and not feel over-crowded, while virtual attendees must be able to contribute to the conversation just as if they were there.

8. Pan to the Crowd

One of the benefits of hybrid events is the ability to use cameras to make everyone feel connected. When recording your events, take advantage of the opportunity to cut to the crowd and put their faces up on the big screen right alongside your featured speakers. This can break up an otherwise monotonous event and create unexpected conversations. Even better, the randomness of this unexpected move can make everything feel even more real.

9. Add Some Friendly Competition

There’s nothing quite like competition to get the conversation going. Plan a fun event that both virtual and in-person attendees can do together. This could include taking certain actions during the event, solving puzzles, posting photos, or having a scavenger hunt. You may even consider creating teams made up of virtual and in-person attendees, so they have to work together to achieve their goals. This is also another way to involve vendors, as they can provide branded prizes to the contest winners.

10. Get Social

The excitement of your event doesn’t have to end after everyone goes home! Consider creating a Facebook group for attendees. This will allow them to connect more deeply. You can also share photos of the event, create posts to spark additional conversations, and start generating excitement for the next year’s event right away.

eShow Helps You Create Unforgettable Events!

At eShow, we provide the technology you need to make true connections during your virtual and hybrid events. Ask us today how we can help you create memorable conversations that will have your attendees thinking about you and your company long after your event is done.

As an event manager, you may often find yourself having “champagne” aspirations for your events, but you’re working with a “beer budget.” A tight budget will require you to flex your event-planning muscles to make the most of the resources at your disposal. You can still pull off the successful events that you aspire to even if your funds are limited; you’ll need a healthy dose of creativity and ingenuity to do it.

Add the practices below to your event-planning arsenal, and you’ll be able to host legendary events despite a tight budget:

1.  Pin Down the Budget

Before you can start planning how to make the most of a tight budget, you have to be aware of just how much money you’re working with.  Knowing this can be instrumental in determining the best format for your event.  For example, you’ll know if you should opt for a virtual format if your finances don’t allow for venue rental, catering, decorations, and other aspects of in-person or hybrid events.

As you’re assessing your budget, keep in mind that you’ll need to allocate part of the budget for promoting your event.  Your budget will dictate the types of promotional methods that you employ.  Buying television ad spots and full-page spreads in popular magazines aren’t likely to be part of your promotional plans.  With proper planning, however, you can research cost-effective methods of reaching your target audience.

 2.  Cost-Effectively Booking Your Venue

If a virtual format isn’t right for your event and you must host your event in a physical location, there are some things to consider when searching for an affordable venue.  Of course, the venue needs to be large enough to accommodate your attendee list, but it also has to fit your budget.

As you search for venues, go off the beaten path and consider non-hotel conference/banquet rooms. Hotels typically charge a premium for meals and beverages, and there are often added service fees.  Also, compare venue rental rates for different days of the week and at different times of the year. You may be able to get a lower rental rate on your preferred event space during the venue’s off-season.

To get the best deal on your venue rental, start your search well in advance and stay flexible on event dates. This will give you time to weigh all of your options and compare different locations before making a final decision.

If your event requires specialized equipment (i.e., audiovisual), ask if the venue provides this as part of your rental rate or if you will have to pay extra.  Added fees can wreak havoc on your already tight budget.

Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts or waiving add-on fees. For example, if you plan to have a concert pianist provide the entertainment at your event, some hotels will charge for the use of their piano. If you’re hosting a large enough event, ask for this fee to be waived. Stress to the venue manager that your event could result in repeat and new business for the venue.   

 3.  Keep Food Costs Under Control

If you’ve ever had to organize a social event, you likely know that the way food is served to guests ultimately affects the cost. For example, if you’ll need to hire waiters to provide guests with table service, that will be more expensive than a buffet arrangement.  

Don’t feel that you have to provide a full meal. You could serve lighter fare such as crudités and other finger foods that guests can help themselves to. A spread of desserts, fruit, and coffee is another way to go.  Also, the costs associated with an open bar can add up quickly, so consider eliminating liquor and offer less expensive options such as wine, beer, and non-alcoholic beverages like soda and juice.

 4.  Book Local Guest Speakers Early

Corporate event attendees are accustomed to guest speakers being part of the program. However, booking guest speakers on a tight budget requires a bit of savvy and adequate planning. Not only will speakers’ fees likely be higher if you book them close to the event date, but if they’re not from the area in which your event is held, you’ll need to provide transportation and lodging.

To find suitable speakers in your area, check local public speaking groups or your local Chamber of Commerce. Some speakers may be willing to work for free as a way to promote their businesses if your event topic is in line with their industries.  An online search is another method of finding speakers willing to work pro bono.

5.  Defray Costs Through Sponsorship

The tighter your budget, the more you could benefit from event sponsorship. Not only can a sponsor(s) help offset the costs of hosting your event, but sponsorship from a popular, well-respected brand could also add prestige to your event.

To get sponsors on board, you’ll need to convince them of the benefits of partnering with you. The sponsor(s) that you choose should be closely related to your business/industry (you’ll likely have the same target market), but their product/service shouldn’t clash with yours.  Also, their interests shouldn’t clash with those of your event attendees.  

6.  Make Use of Technology

When you’re planning an event on a tight budget, you’ll need to keep a close watch on all expenditures made by planning team members.  Each member must stay within the budget set for his/her particular task(s). To keep expenses under control, consider using event management tools that make it easy to see where every budget dollar is going.      

Final Thoughts

Planning an event can be stressful, but a tight budget can heighten the stress level. By implementing the above practices, including using technology via budget-friendly event management tools, you can host an impressive event.

At eShow, our tools and web-based solutions can be customized to meet the needs of event planners working with limited resources. We not only help you stay on budget, but we provide you with everything you need to manage all aspects of your event. We’re with you every step of the way: from planning your event to executing it. Contact us today for a no-obligation demo.

Slowly but surely, people are starting to emerge from lockdown and beginning to mingle once more. As this happens, governments focus on trusted vaccines to boost the level of immunity within the general population. Event planners may take some consolation from this situation and look forward to a sense of normality but, at the same time, realize that things may not be the same as they once were. So, if you’re thinking about staging a live event alongside an online version or as part of a hybrid approach, what do you need to consider – to give you the best chance of success in this new world?

More on Your Plate

For the foreseeable future, event planners will need to be careful and, importantly, will need to demonstrate to everyone else just how cautious they intend to be. Planning was never straightforward before and was always multifaceted, but now there will be even more hoops to jump through to ensure that an event is both safe and successful.

Screening Obligations

Most attendees are going to be very wary. As an event planner, you may need to introduce a screening regimen, so you know if your attendees are healthy or, perhaps, where they may have traveled recently. The easiest way to do this is by including a simple questionnaire within the registration process. You may also need to comply with local rules if regulators require you to screen those attendees upon arrival.

Eliminating Paper

You will want to keep paperwork to a minimum and move your entire registration process online. This move will minimize physical interaction and, at the same time, make your whole process much easier to handle anyway. You can use a product like eShow’s Advance Online Registration. This tool allows you to pre-populate these online forms and produce badge options customized and filled with barcodes before arrival. You will be able to take secure online payments and use all the gathered data for networking and event management.

Being Realistic

When it comes to targeting attendance figures – be realistic. Budget for a smaller attendance and make sure that you give people plenty of space when they are on site. The local government may set rules here, but even if they don’t, ensure that you keep at least 6 feet between seated participants. Work with the venue to handle meal functions and other activities as efficiently and sensitively as possible.

Be Seen to Be Clean

You need to go above and beyond when it comes to on-site hygiene. Event planners would typically leave this to the venue owner, but they will need to micromanage these more challenging days. Somebody will need to sanitize and clean all regularly touched objects during the day. You may need to place freestanding sanitizer stations at the entrance to each function room, and you should have a stock of facemasks available just in case. While the government may no longer mandate masks, some attendees may choose to wear one anyway. You’ll make people more comfortable if you show that you care.

Keep on Top of the Rules

You may also need to interact directly with the government in any case, as local authorities will surely look more closely at events during the early days of this new era. Consequently, you may need to provide them with a lot of information about your event – before, during, and after. You may also need to satisfy the authorities that you have taken the required steps to keep your attendees safe and ensure hygiene throughout the venue. Always be aware of the latest rules and regulations (which can change by the day), and don’t lay yourself open to any criticism.

Work Closely with the Venue Owner

Most event planners work with a third-party organization such as a hotel or conference center. Bear in mind that these companies may face their own challenges as they begin to reopen, and you may need to be aware of some shortcomings. After all, some of these venues may face staff shortages, which may mean that certain facilities on site are not open or running at a reduced rate. Many hotels have now eliminated the daily housekeeping routine. While this may make sense from a safety point of view, some of your attendees may not expect the change.

Always keep in close touch with the venue owner and ask all the right questions during the planning stage. Don’t wait until the event is upon you and run into a shortfall or find that you need to inform your attendees of a change. The more you know in advance, the better your communication can be – both with the venue and your attendees.

Tools and Platforms to Help You

There is no doubt that event planning will be more of a challenge in the post-pandemic world than before. It’ll be tough to create a hybrid and ensure that your virtual event is on par with your live experience. Therefore, it stands to reason that you should look for help from partner organizations that have as much experience in these fields as possible. 

For example, eShow has 24 years of relevant experience and can come to your rescue with a Virtual Event Management platform. This platform seeks to combine the worlds of digital and live into a full event experience. It can cover every element from registration through networking to session management, exhibitors, and sponsors.

You will find a powerful Webinar Event Management tool within the platform, a customizable environment to help you with your online presentations, interactive polls, chat sessions, or Q&A. You can organize customizable booths for virtual exhibitors so that they can promote their products to your online attendees. This can be particularly powerful if those exhibitors are not too sure about attending live events yet.

Opportunities Ahead – Choose Your Partners Carefully

One thing is for sure – you need to be flexible and aware as you plan any live or hybrid event. Yet remember, many of your attendees are hungry for that real-world experience, which will continue to present you with opportunities in the future. So, prepare well, stay safe and work with some forward-thinking partners like eShow to get you across the line.

Virtual events are getting bigger each year and it’s bound to get even bigger and bolder in the future. With bigger events coming at a rapid pace, bigger responsibilities are inevitable. As a planner, it is of utmost importance to compose a full team with a diverse set of skills and expertise that’s going to bring out the best in your event.

Map out the roles and assign necessary responsibilities to your team. Having a dedicated person to a designated task creates a solid foundation and eases the process in terms of planning and execution — creating a well-oiled team machine. Listed here are the most common virtual roles to keep in mind:

Identify the key roles according to your team’s strengths and you can even combine them if need be. One person can take on multiple roles and be a flexible member of the team. Once you have delegated these roles, you can breathe easy since you are now prepared with any possible challenges with a specific person that can instantly and directly jump into it when needed. Do note that each member of your team should be well versed about the theme of the event. Provide all the necessary training and brief them with your goals. Once you have all the pieces together, all you need to do is put some oil on that machine and step on the gas now that your virtual event is good to go.

If you have years of experience in the event management industry as we do, you know how complicated it can be. Throughout the challenges of COVID-19, you have been surviving with virtual events. Now you can foresee and celebrate the day when live events will come roaring back. But will they come back entirely in person? […]

It’s no secret that digital (formally virtual) events have recently taken over from many traditional in-person events. Hosting a successful virtual event takes a different kind of planning. One question on the top of the event manager’s mind is, “How can I keep my virtual attendees engaged?”

It’s certainly more manageable when you have a large group of people in the same place. Networking happens organically. Plus, people are drawn to music or laughter and find entertainment opportunities easily.

If you want to sponsor a successful virtual event, increasing engagement is a must. Use these nine tips to ensure that your virtual event is the one people will remember.

Conduct a Pre-Event Poll

You can start getting attendees involved even before your event formally starts. Conduct a pre-event poll to understand how they heard about the event. Also, be sure to include some questions that will help you create an even better experience for attendees. You may find unique digital event ideas to address their feedback. You can ask things such as:

  • Which social platforms do you use most often? Your analytics will let you know where to promote your event.
  • How interested are you in . . .? Ask the attendees to rank different factors such as the topics covered in the sessions, networking, and talking to vendors. You could gauge their interest in the issues you’re discussing to give you some insight into which sessions might have the high numbers of attendees.
  • How easy was it to access information about the event? If there is an opportunity to respond to this type of feedback before the event, it can be constructive. Easy access to events and information is crucial because people don’t want to spend personal time digging through useless information. The easier the accessibility, the happier the attendee.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you’ll need to respond to the feedback you receive.

Encourage Presenters to Prepare for the Virtual Sessions

Speakers accustomed to presenting to a room full of people need to change their presentation approach to keep attendees at a digital event engaged. Here are some of the issues you’ll want them to consider:

  • Lighting and camera placement. The presenter’s face should be well lit to avoid having them look like the allusion of an apparition. A camera set at eye level will help the audience make virtual eye contact.
  • Background. Minimize background distractions to help the virtual audience maintain focus on the presenter.
  • Body language. It’s challenging to pay attention to a talking head. While the camera should be at eye level, an angle that lets the presenter use their hands, as this audience will find this to be a more natural and inviting look.
  • Use visuals to good effect. Encourage presenters not to read from a set of slides but encourage them to use graphics to expand or go more in-depth on their topic.
  • Look at the camera, not the monitor. Eye contact is still critical, even in a virtual setting. Presenters shouldn’t look at their monitor but focus on their camera. 

Consider Shortening Session Length

It’s far more challenging to hold the audience’s attention when they aren’t seeing the presenter in person. The hour-long presentation that makes sense in a face-to-face event may seem unusually long for a virtual attendee. Besides that, the presenter must maintain a good level of enthusiasm that wanes without in-person feedback. Consider reducing the length of the sessions at your event by 15 to 30 minutes. Keeping a session short is always better than losing attendees who will leave if it goes too long. And plan to include pauses in the session to make sure the audience is engaged and understands the material.


Encourage Questions Throughout Sessions

Some presenters traditionally ask their audience to hold their questions until the end of the formal presentation. Waiting until the end of the session can have some merit, but it’s easier for the attendees to lose concentration in a virtual environment. Setting up a moderated chat other than the speaker can keep the audience more motivated. The moderator can ask the presenter questions if they come in a natural place in the presentation. For example, if a question comes in after the presenter has changed topics, the moderator can hold the question until the end.

Schedule Live Q&As

Nothing will keep your attendees engaged more than the chance to participate and get their questions answered. Some presenters like to have a live Q&A session at the end of their presentations. But, sometimes, attendees don’t have questions until they’ve had a chance to think about what they’ve heard. It may not be reasonable to have a separate Q&A for every session, but scheduling one on a broader topic that covers several sessions is an excellent way to let people participate.

Consider Priming and Synthesis Sessions

Providing context for event attendees is always a good idea. But, again, the concept of priming and synthesis sessions can help. At the start of each day, schedule a short session hosted by a knowledgeable organizer or expert to point out the relationship between the day’s sessions and the event’s theme. Next, schedule a challenge session where you encourage attendees to share their experiences and how they plan to take action based on the day’s information.

Use Mobile Apps

Attendees aren’t always sitting in front of a computer; they’re on their cell phones or tablets. Creating a mobile app for attendees will keep them involved because they can view interactive floor plans, search for exhibitors, take notes, participate in games, and more.

Take Advantage of Chat Rooms

Chat rooms promote engagement. You can set up chat rooms on specific hot topics while having a moderator or subject matter expert manage the interaction. You can also use chat rooms to help vendors talk in more depth to interested prospects.

Use a Tool that Drives Engagement at Virtual Events

An all-inclusive virtual event management tool like VEM™ from eShow will let you manage the entire event experience. It’s a tool that drives engagement by offering virtual exhibits, video chats, interactive polls, chat tools that promote two-way communication among attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors, and much more.

How Can You Increase Engagement at Virtual Events?

It is possible to promote engagement at a virtual event! As technology evolves to adapt to these new landscapes, it is becoming easier to achieve your goal for any virtual event. eShow applies its 25 years of collective experience in the event industry to continuously developed professional solutions and web-based tools to help you manage any size event from start to finish.

eShow’s Virtual Event Management platform gives you the tools you need to increase engagement and to manage your virtual event in one place, regardless of its size.

Selling more sponsorships for an event can seem like a daunting task. Suppose you’re trying to figure out how you’re going to manage everything effectively and efficiently. In that case, the following guide can teach you how to find unique ways to reach your audience and improve the guest experience at your event. It can also teach you how to measure success the right way, select the right key performance indicators (KPI) and build better sponsor relationships.
But before you do any of that, you’ll need to figure out the objective of each sponsor so that you are equipped with the right tools and knowledge to approach them (change, need a diff. word) and, in turn, increasing your business chances of success.

Figure Out the Objective Before You Start Selling

Before you start selling any sponsorships for the event in question, it helps to know the sponsor’s objective. Don’t just send over the standard media kit or price list. Instead, take the alternative route and ask your sponsors,
“What’s your goal for the event?”

Listen to them carefully so that you can determine their main hopes and goals. Then try your best to emulate that into your event. They are your audience, and by understanding their needs, you can cater specifically to them with a well-formulated plan, executed efficiently.

Figure Out Which Companies to Reach Out to

You’ll likely have many options when it comes to companies that might be able to sponsor your event, but that doesn’t mean every company would be a great sponsor. Look for sponsors whose audience matches yours in both demographics and interests to narrow it down a little.

It would help if you also made sure that the companies you’re thinking of reaching out to understand the value of event marketing. You don’t want to have to try too hard to convince companies that this would be a good idea for both of you—you want companies that can already see the inherent value.

Finally, you’ll also want sponsors who will focus on the ROI of the event. You don’t wish for vanity speakers. You want the sponsors who are looking to get a little more out of the partnership. One’s best bet? Focus on companies that are looking for not only a collaboration but also understand that this is not a one-way street. Demonstrate your value and eagerness to gain their trust while also building a new relationship and possible sponsorship.

Find Unique Ways to Reach Your Audience and Improve the Guest ExperienceImproving the guest experience means finding ways to help the sponsors reach their audience while keeping guests thoroughly entertained.
You might try offering something guests could take home to their families or planning a fun activity during the event.
Some ideas you could use to spice up your event and get people involved (and the sponsors more exposure) include the following:

  • Silent auctions
  • Raffles
  • Sponsored bar
  • Gamification
  • A red carpet
  • Casino night
  • Carnival theme
  • Charity photo booth
  • Fashion show
  • Roaming competitions
  • Mindfulness workshops
  • Dessert signage
  • Segmented escape rooms

You can also come up with some of your ideas. Remember always to utilize ideas that make the most sense for the atmosphere you are trying to foster and make the most sense for the sponsors.

Bullet 2

Measure Success the Right Way

If you want to determine how successful your event was, you’ll need to know how to measure your success correctly. And your sponsors are going to want to know, too. After all, these sponsors are spending their hard-earned money. They want to know that their dollars are utilized not only efficiently but effectively. The proof is in the event pudding!

 

It is necessary to create key performance indicators (KPI) to help you measure the success of your event was and have something to show your sponsors.

KPIs for Your Event Below is a list of key performance indicators that we believe, when incorporated successfully, are timeless:

  • Total registrations
  • Customers acquired
  • Event check-ins
  • Registration by ticket type
  • Cost per customer acquisition
  • Speaker engagement
  • Accounts influenced (ABM)
  • Gross revenue
  • Live polling response rate
  • Number of active community members
  • Social media mentions
  • Cost to revenue ratio
  • Number of qualified sales leads
  • Session analytics
  • Sponsorship satisfaction
  • Pipeline generated
  • Number of messages sent within the event community
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  • Number of returning attendees
  • Revenue by promo code

Make a Great Pitch and Build Better Sponsor Relationships

Suppose you genuinely want to sell more sponsorships for your events. In that case, one needs to learn how to deliver a great pitch to Sponsors while also learning how to build even more significant relationships with these future companies and build and create significant sponsor relationships. That means slow down and take your time to understand and pay attention to the small details; they are what matter..

For example, look for the best times to call sponsors. Call Human Resources and ask when the best time to call would be. Then, you’ll want to make sure you get into contact with the right person at the company. Depending on the organization’s size, you might be speaking to the owner or the sponsorship department (if you are dealing with a larger company).

Reaching out months in advance is always the best practice. You want to give sponsors as much time as possible to be considerate and to ensure that they’ll be able to sponsor your event.

What to Do When Reaching Out to Potential Sponsors

Before reaching out to potential sponsors, check their sponsorship guidelines. You’ll also want to:

  • Prepare a list of your previous sponsors along with some key attributes
  • Be concise (you only really need 20 seconds to introduce your conference, mission, audience, and any press that will be there)
  • Know your ideal market (so you can convince potential sponsors that your event is the best event for them to get involved with)
  • Attempt an emotional connection (tell a story that helps them connect emotionally with your event and your company)
  • Tell them your mission and why it’s important to you and your organization. Show them that you share their values.

Bullet 1The Path to More Event Sponsorships

Selling more sponsorships for your event means using every resource at your disposal. eShow offers registration management, housing, and travel management, a virtual event management platform, lead retrieval, banquet seating and direction, and network and appointment management, and more.

As you present more of your events online, you may need to reinvent your approach. While you can use the latest technology to help you craft a stunning virtual event and potentially reach far more people than ever before, you still need to ensure that your attendees are engaged. Here are eight ways to keep those eyes glued to the screen so that they absorb your content and stay on track.

1. Virtual Networking | Attendee Chat

There is nothing like a live event when it comes to building camaraderie and enhancing the shared experience. It may be hard to replicate some of that “magic” for virtual events, but that does not mean that attendees need to feel isolated or somehow distant.

You can make sure that they interact with each other by setting up ways to connect. For example, you can open topic-specific chat rooms if your events cover many different areas. In addition, you could post a list of attendees in each chat room to spur others to join.

Make this part of your mobile event app’s functionality, ensure that this asset has the messaging capability, and look at the many solutions from eShow to help get you started. Interact with attendees before, during, and after the event to plant comfortable seeds with conversation starters in each chat room if necessary. It gives it not only a personal touch but shows you care by being in the chat as well. That should get the ball rolling!”

2. Getting Their Input | Live Surveys and Polls

For best effect, you should constantly interact with your attendees in the run-up to the event. This effort will help build interest and engagement, and this process will be even more potent if you celebrate their perspective. Continue this interaction through your virtual events by running live polls or surveys. It could be helpful to look back on these as a case study or reference point when planning and implementing new ideas for your next major event, as they can help you improve the structure or content for next time.

You do not need to make all your polls or surveys serious, either. Instead, throw in some fun questions to break the ice, and prompt further interaction.

3. Introducing the Fun | Gamify Your Event

Everyone likes a challenge, and you can engage your attendees by throwing in a game or two during the event. You will need to be creative, though. Draw up competition and allocate each attendee a score depending on their performance. Perhaps you can make this challenge last throughout the event and use a pop-up screen to post the ever-changing leaderboard. Motivate your attendees to score by giving away interim prizes and offer a lovely award for whoever scores the highest points. Put the icing on the cake by presenting these awards in a virtual ceremony.

Combine the ceremony with a significant announcement of some kind, keeping everyone on the edge of their seats and encourage them to stay until the end. Do not be afraid to weave Social Media into your games! It can help spread the word even further and make it even more worthwhile for your attendees.

4. It’s All in Presentation | Focusing on Your Platform

When you run a live event, you often have the luxury of working with the design team (both in-house and at the venue) to ensure that everything looks spectacular for your attendees. When you stage a virtual event, it may be difficult to replicate that type of “wow” factor, but you certainly need to focus on your platform to encourage engagement.

A well-designed portal will impress your attendees. If you can demonstrate the ease and simplicity of navigating your portal, you can worry less about your audience getting on and focus on the topic at hand by keeping them engaged. You will want to avoid confusion at any stage, or it may discourage your attendees, and they may surf elsewhere in the background. Only use the most effective platform for your virtual event if you want to keep people glued to your content. Have a look at the Virtual Event Management (VEM™) Platform from eShow for inspiration.

5. Content | Remains King in the Virtual Landscape

While it may be more challenging to design your online portal than your live event, you certainly need to make sure that your content is as powerful as possible. You may want to take an entirely different approach. For example, focus more on visual aids or interactive devices instead of a talking head to garner attention. Remember that your attendee may encounter distractions on the other end of “the line,” and you may need to exert some additional effort to control their attention.

Keep those sessions short for best effect. While a live attendee may nod off briefly if a session goes on too long, a virtual attendee may disappear altogether in that case.

6. Push it | Getting Instant Engagement

Everyone walks around with a smartphone today, so use this as a tool in capturing your audience’s attention. Thank your attendees for their competition entry or congratulate them as you push out the results. Warn them that a keynote will start soon, so they get any other distractions out of the way first.

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7. Provide the Answers | Handling Those Questions

Ensure that you have all the collateral at hand so that attendees can get answers to their frequently asked questions as painlessly as possible. Put a clear link at the top of the event portal but make sure that you do not encourage them to go down a rabbit hole when accessing this information. In other words, please do not include any other links on your FAQ page but give them one option that will take them back to the portal. Alternatively, make the FAQ a pop-up instead, and think about using video as a medium to answer those questions more succinctly instead.


8. Cameras on – and Ready!

Finally, add the element of surprise. In the beginning, advise your attendees that they should always keep their cameras on during the event. Then, tell them that you will call a few of them out by name during the session. This threat should keep them awake and engaged and ready to hold up their virtual hand if called upon to do so!

Maintaining their Attention  

We put the “E” in engaged! There are many ways to bolster engagement whenever you run a digital event and some great tools to help make your job a lot easier.

Available Solutions

Check out the solutions or products from eShow. Many of these tools work together seamlessly or are purchased separately to help make your event a success. For example, look at the event website offering – a customized website with no reason to worry about code. Or investigate the Virtual Event Management (VEM™) Platform that converts all the traditional offline event elements into a highly customizable virtual world.

Let’s say this louder for those in the back of the (virtual) room. COVID-19 has changed how many, if not most, companies and sectors conduct their business.

This has especially been true for the event-planning industry.

During the past year, conferences and meetings have moved from physical spaces and face-to-face occurrences to online platforms. Isolation and virtual means have helped support social distancing while avoiding coronavirus spread.

As things have relaxed somewhat, many events are moving from 100% virtual to a hybrid format. On paper, hybrid formats could be considered a “win-win” for most meeting planners. They can bring some participants together in manageable amounts while continuing to maintain the above-mentioned social-distancing protocols. Furthermore, the hybrid platform means speakers and panelists can reach a broader swath of virtual attendees.

However, the hybrid format doesn’t just happen. It requires the right technology, skills, and equipment for success. Failure to plan could mean a conference, event, or meeting that doesn’t achieve its mission.

Defining the Hybrid Event

Part of the difficulty in planning for a hybrid meeting or conference is that it has many permutations.

According to Meeting Planners International, a hybrid event consists of at least one face-to-face group. This group digitally connects with other participants in one or more off-site locations. MPI pointed out that effective hybrid events combine the positives of real-life meetings with virtual interactions.

The issue, however, is that those virtual interactions encompass a variety of formats. They can be a “pod” scenario, in which participants meet in small groups in different locations. Or, they can consist of all virtual participants. Or they might involve technology streaming to other specific meeting locations or offices. Basically, the hybrid format is as flexible as it sounds. This offers benefits and challenges.

The Future of Hybrid Events

Though it might seem unlikely at this time, COVID-19 will eventually dwindle in its severity. People will gather in large groups, once again. But this won’t necessarily be the end to the hybrid meeting format.

For example, In a poll taken throughout the industry shows 62% of event planners believe the hybrid model is here to stay. There are good reasons for this optimism. When conducted properly, hybrid events combine flexibility, efficiency, diversity, and technological growth. They can also offer very busy people the opportunity to attend conferences and meetings, a definite issue, even before the coronavirus pandemic.

But a hybrid event is only as successful as the tools used to produce it.


What Could Go Wrong?

Planning a hybrid event involves more than simply booking time on a virtual meeting account, hiring speakers and panelists, sending out many emails, and then flipping a switch.

In fact, thinking hybrid events magically coming together could lead to the following mistakes:

  • Wasted time and poor content delivery due to a lack of A/V, mobile, and web testing
  • Uncertain presentation due to untrained speakers and panelists.
  • Ignoring the needs of virtual attendees, who might make up the bulk of participants
  • “Drop-outs” and “cut-off,” due to low-quality technology

Choosing the wrong technology platform can pose another potential issue. While virtual meeting sites might work well for smaller, one-off gatherings, conferences don’t fit that bill. As every event planner knows, physical, face-to-face events have a lot of moving parts. This is just as true when it comes to hybrid events.

Ensuring A Professional Solution

The above isn’t meant to criticize video conference tools or meeting sites. Most work quite well. Their deficiency likes in that they focus on one thing: The meeting, or gathering, itself. But let’s take a look at what is included with just about any major event:

  • Registration (including cancelations and last-minute “walk-ins”)
  • Exhibitor space and booths
  • Sponsorship opportunities
  • Merchandise stores
  • Meeting discounts
  • Networking spaces
  • Formal and informal discussions and chats
  • Handouts and brochures

None of the above includes the actual event. Activities involved could consist of keynote speeches, round tables and panel discussions, breakout sessions, and one-on-one “town hall” meetings. Once again, moving parts. And, once again, standard virtual meeting tools might not be effective in these situations.

Successful hybrid events require the proper technology and solutions. For instance, eShow’s Virtual Event Management (VEMTM) technology offers the following:

  • Secure payment processes for attendees
  • Customization options for exhibitor booths
  • Set-ups for unique sponsorship opportunities
  • Higher at-conference engagement through networking “space” and chat tools
  • An ideal online environment for presentations, seminars, speeches, and more
  • Post-data event analysis

As each event and conference is unique, the necessary required tools are as well. You might not need an entire VEMTM package for your particular situation. But your hybrid event will involve more than speakers. As such, having those tools available could mean the difference between a superior conference and one that is just mediocre.

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Careful Thinking

When you spearhead real-time events, you likely put a great deal of thought into all the components. Even seemingly small details, such as signage and table set-ups, are carefully considered. The same holds true with hybrid events. No, you likely won’t require registration tables or wayfinding signs to the restroom in your digital (formally virtual) event. But, these conferences require just as much forethought and analysis, well before the first save-the-date message goes out to your audience.

Part of your pre-meeting analysis should also include the tools you need for your hybrid happening. It’s important to figure out what you need, understand your requirements, and source the proper tools. Putting those means into place, and ensuring their accessibility, can lead to a talked-about, outstanding event. It can mean satisfied participants, happy exhibitors, elated sponsors, and delighted speakers. It can also reduce your stress and allow you to focus on other aspects of your job.

Turn to eShow for all facets of meeting and conference planning. Whether your needs involve housing and travel management, meeting logistics, lead retrieval, or more, eShow’s products and services can help in all areas of meeting and event planning.