Back in the day – in other words, before COVID-19 – getting ready for meetings and events meant time, preparation, and planning. But live functions had to move to hybrid and virtual platforms due to coronavirus-driven lockdowns and social distancing mandates.

While the way in which meetings and events content is presented differs from pre-2020, preparation is still required for success. There is more to a positive hybrid event than putting together many presentations and speakers, dumping them on a streaming service, and believing that participants will happily show up.

The good news is that these following seven steps can help you develop and implement a successful hybrid event, one that attendees, presenters, sponsors, and vendors will talk about and remember! 

1. Define Your Objectives

This might seem to be a basic point, but before you book your first speaker or sign on that vendor, figure out the point of the event. Not all are created the same. Do you want to educate and inform? Provide networking opportunities? Buy, sell, or swap items? Your answers to these questions will help formulate the type, venue, and configuration of your event.

Take some time and effort to consider your organization’s goals and how the event you’re planning will align with those aims.

2. Determine The Configuration

Let’s return to the definition of hybrid events. According to Meeting Planners International, hybrid events “include any meeting or event with at least one group of face-to-face participants that digitally connects with participants in another or multiple locations.”

This definition provides a framework for many different set-up configurations, such as the following.

  • Live main and virtual participants, consisting of in-person presenters in one location and content streamed to virtual viewers.
  • Main and one-way pods, in which virtual viewers come together in groups to watch the live event together
  • Main and two-way pods, which allows attendees to present from different locations or to share perspectives on a topic
  • Studios and pods, which uses space to create and broadcast content to small groups in remote locations

Putting your configurations on paper (literally or figuratively) will lead to more efficient planning. It can help you plan for the right content and activities. Speaking of content . . .

3. Match Content to Delivery Systems

Think about this. When you planned live events before 2020, your focus might have been on keynote speeches, main presentations, or breakout sessions. This planning, in turn, drove the type of content and activities delivered in these formats. Content that might be effective in a breakout session would not have worked out quite as well in a round-table format.

It’s the same with a hybrid event. The highly effective presentations in a live event could fall flat in a streaming environment or pod interaction. While you’re at it, be sure your speakers are comfortable with the designated formats. Someone who struggles with public speaking might do just fine with an online presentation, while another individual with a compelling physical presence would be more effective in person.

4. Stand Out From The Rest

Many, many organizations are developing and putting on hybrid events. This isn’t a bad thing, but it does mean that all these events are remarkably similar.

Don’t fall into this rut. You took pains to ensure that your pre-COVID life happenings would be events to remember. Do the same with your hybrid offering. There are various “extras” you can add to move your meeting or event from the mundane to the spectacular.

Consider the following ideas.

  • Hire musicians to play live music between sessions and panels
  • Produce and show short, fun videos that tie into the theme of your event
  • Involve participants in interactive games, such as trivia, scavenger hunts, or virtual board games
  • Encourage attendees to become involved through a virtual show and tell

Like hybrid event configurations, the extracurricular activities you implement in your event are limited only by your imagination.

5. Promote. A lot

Certainly, hybrid events allow for outreach to more participants than ever. But don’t fall into the “if we build it, they will come” mentality. People still need to know that your meeting and presentations are taking place. They still need to understand why such events are important to them and why they are helpful. Therefore, having your promotion plan in place is an essential part of preparation.

For the maximum benefit and impact, be sure that you target your audience, prepare carefully crafted messages, and deliver them through appropriate mediums and at the right times.

6. Check, Check, and Re-Check The Technology

Before your live event got off the ground, you made sure that microphones worked and audiovisual equipment was functional. You also made friends with the tech person; in case something went wrong.

It would be best if you did this in preparation for your hybrid event, too. In fact, planning is even more important for a hybrid happening because more technology will be in use. You’ll be juggling streaming services, videoconferencing equipment, webinar software, and audio feeds. In addition, you’ll want redundancies in place should something go wrong. And you’ll want to make friends with the tech person.

7. Put Measurements & KPIs In Place

How did you determine the success of your live event? How did you ensure that objectives were met? By the way, remember objectives? The first preparation requirement?

At any rate, to answer the above, you would place audience measurements and feedback in place before the first presentation. The same holds for your hybrid event. Before your first participant logs onto Zoom or your first presenter takes the stage at a live venue, you need your key performance indicators and feedback mechanisms in place. This feedback can tell you if that hybrid event met your objectives.

Feedback mechanisms can include emailed surveys following a streaming meeting, virtual polls after a keynote address, or even live commentary during a particular breakout session. Any way in which you can gauge participant response can be helpful for future events!

Benjamin Franklin Was a G-enius

According to the philosopher, scientist, and Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” This is certainly true for life in general and your hybrid event specifically. Preparation is essential to ensure success and to help reduce any potential problems.

With a sound strategy and plan of action in place, your event will resonate with attendees, presenters, vendors, and others.

To help manage any meeting or event in any format, visit eShow to learn about tools and web-based products that can direct you to success!

As an event planner, you know how important it is to have your finger on the pulse of attendee engagement tactics and tools. After all, you always want to produce an noteworthy event with content to remember. Now we are facing a new landscape in the post-pandemic world and may need to craft a hybrid event that features both in-person and virtual attendance. So, how can you make sure that you achieve your programmatic objectives on one-hand, while also ensuring that attendee’s feel connected, engaged and satisfied with their experience? How can you take advantage of some of the best tools in the marketplace today so that you leave nothing to chance?

Do Your Research

Before you begin to draw up your plans, gather as much feedback as you can. You may need to ask more pointed questions than you may be used to, and bear in mind that those who attend virtually may have different objectives than those who come along in person. Also, get into the habit of asking leading questions.

  • Ideally, you would have a survey at the end of each event to help you prepare for the next while memories are sharpest. Otherwise, schedule a discovery call with some key prospects so that you are aware of their expectations and can tailor accordingly.
  • You need to get a clear picture of your audience demographic. This can help you craft those different “avatars” that symbolize each type of attendee and can tailor your approach and content.
  • If you need to deal with different levels of experience, drill into each carefully. You may need to compromise in certain areas or generate backup collateral to help bring newcomers up to speed.
  • Do your attendees prefer to be led by the hand, or can you get away with a less formal presentation? The answer to this question will help you determine whether you need a workshop-style event or need to bring in some keynote speakers instead.

Remember, the more information you gather at this early stage, the better. Choose a broad cross-section of potential attendees, virtual and “live,” so you know what is likely to engage people and plan your event accordingly.

Presentation Options

When it comes to the type of presentation, you have several different formats to choose from.

Conference

You can create a hybrid conference and mix several hundred live attendees with, potentially, thousands of virtual participants.

  • Make sure that you bring in interesting, expert speakers who can provide in-depth material for all involved.
  • By all means, schedule some breakout sessions but plan these carefully so that virtual attendees can still engage.
  • If need be, create separate online sessions that will run simultaneously alongside your live breakouts.
  • Remember, it is far harder to hold the attention of a virtual attendee as they may have many other distractions that you cannot control.
  • Your schedule must be as flexible as possible so that attendees can show up for the sessions that mean the most to them.

Networking is, of course, a key component of any live event, but there is no reason why you should leave your virtual attendees in the wilderness. Use the latest tools so that they can engage with other attendees online or at the venue. Allow them to connect with speakers or do business with exhibitors, and remember, some speakers and exhibitors can be virtual themselves and may work alongside those attending the event “live.”

Training

If your primary goal is to educate, you can establish a training session that is both live and virtual.

  • Ensure that each session is as engaging or interactive as possible and guard against boredom.
  • Your approach will be essential if your content tends to be relatively dry, so choose your trainers carefully.
  • Presenters need to know the topic inside out, but they must be highly personable and connect well with remote attendees.

Exhibition

If you are planning an exhibition or tradeshow, you need to take a different approach.

  • You may be dealing with a large audience, and some people may be at various stages of the buying experience.
  • Try to make your virtual attendees feel that they are part of the action, so create an experiential or immersive event.
  • Ramp up your efforts to connect attendees through robust tools that enable networking and interaction at every stage.
  • If some of your attendees are exhibitors and their primary goal is to generate sales, integrate e-commerce facilities to make this as simple as possible.

Working with Tools

In today’s highly connected world, you do not need to work alone anymore. Industry experts like eShow have a range of products that can make it easy for you to connect with your attendees, whether virtual or in person. You’ll be able to gather data from these sessions so that you can analyze behavior and understand attendee objectives. You’ll also be able to integrate your own tools and services so that you always pull accurate data and push enriched data back to your platforms for the best effect.

Provide your attendees with mobile apps to refine their experience. They can download your app to their favorite device to help them find exhibitors, view interactive floor plans, and review session information. They’ll be able to read up about all of your speakers or take notes as they network with other attendees.

If you want to ensure that you provide your attendees (whether virtual or in-person) with the full event experience, consider eShow’s Virtual Event Management platform. You’ll be able to introduce a seamless registration experience where you can collect all of the information about your attendees while processing payments. You can open up your platform to  virtual exhibitors and sponsors who can design a customized virtual booth to converse with attendees. Make it easy for attendees to interact with exhibitors through discount coupons, brochures, and video chats.

If your event is webinar-based, eShow has that covered as well. The Webinar Event Management platform enables you to stream live or on-demand sessions through various presentation options to your virtual audience, so they do not miss out on anything. You can also engage your online attendees through interactive polls or chat boxes.

Plan Carefully and Choose Your Partners Well

Before you start planning your event,  make sure that you fully understand what your attendees are looking to gain from attending your event. Gather as much intelligence as you can ahead of time, and work with companies like eShow to help you plan it all out from registration to execution.

The New Year is right around the corner, making now the perfect time to re-think your event strategy for 2022. The past two years have been a challenge as planners struggled to find their way through unchartered territory, partially relying on trial and error as in-person events came to a halt and digital and hybrid events became the new standard.

Today, it’s clear that some hybrid event features – like lengthy presentations, unstructured happy hours, and virtual scavenger hunts – are best left in the past. For planners who want to make a splash in 2022 and beyond, it’s time to let go of the old and embrace a whole new way of thinking. Here’s a look at some of the top hybrid event tips to help you set yourself apart in the New Year.

Plan Shorter and Smaller Events

While people are starting to get more comfortable attending in-person events again, it’s safe to say they won’t look the same for quite some time. Instead, most events will be smaller, shorter, and more locally focused.

In 2022, and for at least a few years beyond that, planners can expect to see fewer multi-day conferences and an increase in half-day meetings, roadshows, and local business retreats. Instead of centralized mega-events or events held only on the east and west coast, many companies will host multiple smaller events in various locations across the country. 

Focus on the Experience

One advantage of keeping things small is that it allows planners to focus on creating personalized, intimate experiences. For the time being, this is going to be even more important than the content and speakers – particularly for in-person event attendees. Since it’s now easy to consume content from the comfort of your home, attendees need a better reason to take on the expense and potential risks that come with traveling to an in-person event. 

Offer On-Demand Content

Event attendees no longer want to deal with scheduled event sessions and keynote speakers with limited access times. Instead, they want to access presentations when it’s convenient for them. This makes it important not only to live-stream speakers but to also record the sessions so attendees can easily view them after it’s done.

Not only is this far more convenient, but offering this option will keep your event, hosts, and sponsors top-of-mind for weeks after the event is over. One thing to note – if you offer your content for months after the event is done, the excitement will die down. To make the biggest impact, offer it for a couple of weeks or a month at most. This will give attendees enough time to consume the content while also encouraging immediate action.

Shift to an “Event Producer” Mentality

Creating hybrid events is hard work and it requires planners to wear many different hats. To thrive in this arena, you’ll need to start thinking of yourself as not just a planner, but an “event producer.” Your job duties will include designing an engaging and effective program, creating an agenda that will work for both virtual and in-person attendees, and putting on a top-notch production.

Cutting-edge virtual event management software is now non-negotiable if you want to ensure your hybrid event runs smoothly. In addition, you may consider hiring a professional production team to create a thrilling sense of excitement for both in-person and virtual event attendees. 

Customize Your Swag Bags

Sending event merch and swag bags to virtual attendees is still a great concept, but mailing generic kits to everyone is a trend that’s best left in the past. Now, you’ll want to take the time to customize the bags before shipping them out. While this does require more effort, doing so will create a more pleasing and intimate experience for your attendees.  

There are many ways to add a personal touch before shipping out your packages, from allowing participants to choose food and drink preferences to providing certain items based on a participant’s job role or industry, 

Focus on Your Sponsors

Continued uncertainty may make some sponsors hesitant to make large investments in in-person events. However, hybrid events offer them unique and exciting opportunities. Since opening up events to both in-person and virtual attendees increases the size of the audience, this offers much greater exposure. It also creates new ways to increase lead generation and raise brand awareness.

The more value you can bring to sponsors, the more money they’ll be willing to put into your events. Make sure your event management software makes it easy for you to promote them. Some options to consider include adding sponsor logos to registration pages and webinar presentations, offering both physical and virtual sponsor booths, and making it easy for all attendees to schedule appointments with event sponsors.

Have a Backup Plan

While it’s starting to look like things are getting back to “normal,” if the events of the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that you always need to expect the unexpected. To give yourself the best chances of success, try to think of everything that could possibly go wrong and develop an action plan for what you’ll do if it actually happens. 

While this doomsday-mentality might cause you a bit of anxiety, knowing you have covered all your bases will make you feel more confident when the time comes. If something does happen, instead of breaking down or panicking, you’ll handle the situation without breaking a sweat.

Embrace Digital Technology

If you truly want to thrive in the world of hybrid events, you need a top-notch suite of integrated software solutions. Trying to cobble together multiple platforms or making do with what you have simply isn’t good enough anymore.

That’s where eShow comes in. We offer a comprehensive platform for all of your in-person, virtual, and hybrid event needs. From registration and virtual event management to meeting logistics and RFID tracking, we’ll help you shine from beginning to end. Contact us today to schedule your free demo!

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 gaining traction every where you look, and they are bound to gain speed and complexity in the future. With the continuation of events whether virtual or hybrid, a change in event planner responsibilities are inevitable. As an organizer, it is of utmost importance to compose a fully stacked team with a diverse set of skills and expertise that’s going support every facet of a extremely complex process.

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.