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Hybrid events became popular once Covid-19 entered our lives and, although restrictions are being lifted and in-person events are returning, this event format is expected to stick around. The adage “the more, the merrier” should come to mind when planning your hybrid event and direct you to create an inclusive event. You want everyone to have a positive experience.

You should aim to accommodate attendees with disabilities not only because the ADA requires it but because it’s the right thing to do. For being conscientious, you’ll be rewarded with increased attendance which translates to higher revenue from registration fees. You can also tout your attendance rate when promoting future events (similar to a promoter boasting prior sold-out concerts).

Here are ways to make your hybrid event more accessible for both virtual and in-person attendees.

Attendees with Mobility Challenges

For those who prefer to attend your event in-person, ensure that your venue can accommodate physical limitations. Consider the following:

Is there an elevator or ramp access? When researching venues, some will indicate on their website whether they can accommodate visitors with physical limitations. In addition to an elevator, a parking lot with a cut curb or ramp will give those in wheelchairs or scooters easy access to the building. The building entrance also needs to be wide enough. If it’s not included on the venue’s website, a quick call or email should yield accessibility details.

Is your venue easy to access (for all attendees)?  If your event will take place in a bustling metro location, what’s the best route for attendees to take? Is construction taking place nearby? Provide this information in your registration materials to save attendees time and make it easy for them to reach the venue. If some attendees use wheelchairs and will be arriving by subway or train, provide the link to Google’s Wheelchair Accessible Routes.

Is there nearby parking?  For attendees using wheelchairs, canes, and walkers, available parking needs to be close to the venue entrance.

What’s the seating set-up?  Is there enough space in the seating area to accommodate wheelchairs, scooters, canes, walkers, and service animals (this is important, as other attendees may be uncomfortable being near animals)? Having a designated area for those with physical disabilities is ideal to ensure that their needs are met.

Accessible hotel room options:  When reserving a hotel block, include rooms that accommodate persons with physical limitations.

Attendees with Hearing Challenges

For deaf and hard-of-hearing attendees, you’ll need to accommodate both those who attend virtually and in person.

Will you provide an interpreter?  For hearing-impaired attendees, will you employ the services of a sign language expert? Will you provide assistive listening devices? American Sign Language (ASL) includes signs for many words; however, there isn’t a sign for everything. Provide interpreters with written program materials in advance so they can decide how best to express unfamiliar terms to hearing-impaired attendees.

People born with the ability to hear may rely on other forms of communication besides ASL, so captioning video content (for both virtual and in-person attendees) will be helpful.  Insist that speakers and attendees use microphones and always face forward to allow for lip-reading. If you’re planning to have background music, this could be distracting to hearing-impaired attendees trying to hear what speakers are saying.

Attendees with Visual Challenges

For visually impaired attendees, ensure that sufficient lighting and print materials are easy to read (minimum 16pt sans serif font on gloss-free paper). Blind attendees may request handouts printed in Braille or screen-reading software (virtual attendees).

Double-Check Access Before the Event

As earlier communicated, you don’t want attendees showing up to the venue only to find out that an elevator is broken or something else isn’t in place.  A few days before your event, call the venue and make sure everything is good to go. If not, you’ll have time to devise a plan B or let attendees know about any changes. They may then opt to attend digitally (formally virtual).

Let Attendees Know They’re Covered

Make sure attendees know the steps you’re taking to make your event accessible to all. To do this:

  • Include accessibility information in event promotion materials.
  • Ask about the following during registration: (1) dietary restrictions, (2) need for an interpreter, (3) need for accessible parking or seating.
  • Mobility, hearing, and visual impairments are often accommodated at events, but what about those sensitive to event elements like flashing or strobe lights that could cause seizures? Sudden loud noises may affect veterans with PTSD. Ask about these conditions as well during registration.

Ensure Website Accessibility for All

All digital (formally virtual) and in-person attendees to your hybrid event should be able to access event information and registration easily. To create an accessible website

  • Ensure all website text is easy to read. Don’t replace text with graphics.
  • Provide larger buttons and plenty of space between buttons for those with low vision.
  • The website should be accessible via keyboard instead of via mouse.
  • Use descriptive link text.
  • Provide video captions and transcripts.
  • Eliminate CAPTCHA (spam discourager); it’s not easy for attendees with low vision to access.  

Master Your Platform

To ensure that your hybrid event goes off without a hitch, take the time to become well-acquainted with your digital event platform of choice (Zoom, YouTube, etc.) Conduct run-throughs of any technical and audio-visual elements ahead of the event to smooth out any glitches.

Final Thoughts

It will take more thought and work to make your hybrid event more inclusive, but if it makes your special-needs attendees more comfortable, it’ll be worth it.  Always gather feedback after your event to see if you hit the mark. Did attendees feel they were able to participate fully? Use their responses to continually improve on your accessibility efforts.

Consult disability groups and resources such as the ADA for planning guidance and solutions. Use the information gathered with eShow’s interactive Exhibit Sales & Floor Plan Management module to create an accessible floor plan. 

 At eShow, we can help with all aspects of your hybrid event – from planning to execution.  Our interactive online tools put successful and memorable events within your grasp. Contact us today for a no-obligation demo, and we’ll show you how to ensure that all attendees benefit from your event and much more.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 125,900 event planners in the United States in 2020. The event planning industry is expected to grow at around 18% over the next 10 years, a significantly higher rate than the overall average of 8%.

While these numbers are promising for the industry, they also show that competition isn’t going away any time soon. Instead of avoiding or aggressively going after your competitors, consider learning how to network and collaborate with them instead. You may be surprised to learn that doing so can help you strengthen and grow your business.

Benefits of Networking with Competitors

In business and in life, it’s critical to foster good relationships – even with your competitors. Not only is being friendly easier and more pleasant than viewing your competition as the enemy but making these connections can also yield unexpected benefits. Here’s a closer look at three advantages you can enjoy when networking with your competitors.

1. Creating Learning Experiences

If you’re offering a similar service in the same market, there’s sure to be some things you can learn about the way your competitor does business. What draws people to them? And what services do they offer that you don’t?

By going into the conversation with a learning mindset, you may be able to identify areas where you’re lacking or strengths you need to capitalize on. Take the time to truly listen, pay attention to your similarities and differences, and use what you learn to make our business even more potent.

2. Finding Mutually Beneficial Opportunities

Have you ever had to turn down a client because your business was at capacity? Or had a client ask for a service you didn’t offer? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to provide them with an alternative solution? It would also be great if your competitors looked to you when the same things happened to them.

By creating a friendly and respectful relationship with your competitors, you may be able to find ways to lean on each other. Whether you’re sharing resources or referring clients that aren’t quite the right fit, you’re likely to find at least a few ways to collaborate.

3. Strengthening Your Network

The events industry is ever-changing. Employees come and go, experienced professionals enter and leave the industry, and the demand for different services often ebb and flows. If your circumstances suddenly change, you may need to look to the people who know the industry best – those who are already in it.

Create connections with as many industry professionals as possible today, and you’ll be in a better position to adapt if you find that you need to make a change in the future quickly.

How to Collaborate with Competitors – The Right Way

While networking with your competitors can foster growth, it’s essential to do it the right way. The following tips will help you collaborate successfully while still maintaining your edge.

Start with the Right Mindset

When networking, it’s far too familiar for people to seek out opportunities that benefit them without any concern about what they bring to the table. Whether you’re dealing with someone in your industry or other individuals, it’s essential to look for ways to offer support and assistance. Not only will identifying opportunities to assist help to sharpen your skills, but it will increase the likelihood that the other party will eventually find a way to return the favor.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that a relationship with a “competitor” isn’t worth your time. Often, initial connections can lead to valuable future relationships, and it’s vital to remain open-minded when meeting people. Even if you can’t see an immediate benefit, you may uncover a profitable opportunity in the future.

That being said, it’s also important not to view relationships as nothing more than a means to an end. It will quickly become evident if you’re only interested in what you can get out of people. Instead, focus on the mantra of “givers gain,” and you will always come out ahead.  

Don’t Over-Share

While you must approach the relationship with a willingness to share some information about your business, it’s important not to overdo it. Even if you become very friendly with your competitor, don’t forget that there are certain things you must keep to yourself.

Feel free to share experiences, but keep information about your employees and clients private. Also, avoid disclosing financial information about your business or details regarding your strategic planning and market positioning initiatives. This type of information will be too tempting for your competitor to ignore, and you can be almost certain they will end up using it to their advantage, even if they don’t intend to do so.

Maintain Your Competitive Edge

While collaboration is terrific, you still need to maintain your competitive edge, which means making sure you continue to be an authoritative, savvy, and creative business executive. If you feel the need to bounce proprietary information off someone who is “in the know,” find an industry-specific coach or mentor who is not a direct competitor to your business.

Continue to stay on top of the latest trends and find ways to incorporate them into your events, so you’re always on the cutting edge. Keep these ideas to yourself until you’ve already earned a reputation for flawlessly executing them.

Forge Strong Connections to Ensure Survivability

The most successful event managers have found ways to forge strong connections with all of the crucial players in their industry – including their competitors. Approach this with confidence and the right mindset, and you’ll help ensure your business is strong enough to survive even the toughest of challenges.

For more guidance to help you navigate the world of event planning, take a look through our webinar series. Our team of experienced industry experts has created in-depth guides for everything from creating successful events to stakeholder preparations. We’re continually updating our offerings, so be sure to check back often.

When an event planner wants to attract attendees, they’ll typically think about logistical issues. For example, is the venue close to a significant airport, or does it have sufficient space and an “all in one” element to make movement easier? Yet times are changing, and it’s not enough to design an event this way anymore. Attendees are a lot more particular and will often buy with their heart as well as their head. So, if you want your next event to be a resounding success, why do you need to tap into some intellectual capital and make sure that your venue has the correct attributes?

Dealing with Convention

It’s no surprise that the key destination cities around the country have spent a fortune to develop sprawling convention centers. As just one example, Orlando’s Orange County Convention Centre covers 7 million ft.² and brings more than 200 events per year to this Central Florida city. In response, many event planners make a beeline for this type of facility as it will often have every base imaginable covered. Large hotels will stand nearby, and there are so many options for event configuration, there is little need to go elsewhere.

While nobody denies that the OCCC is a fantastic facility, you could argue that it represents “more of the same.” Attendees may get a sense of déjà vu as they progress through the event, and they may wonder if they are getting as much out of their investment as they could.

Off the Beaten Track

Maybe it is time to transition away from the conventional convention center and towards something more off the beaten track. Planners can look for facilities that may offer unusual facilities or a link to untapped resources. They may connect with local thought leaders or prominent individuals who can offer new experiences or education. In so doing, a planner will engage the intellectual resources of the venue or host city instead, and this may make the event far more appealing to the prospect attendee. The American Society of Association Executives suggest that Canada could be a source of meaningful, content-rich events for just such a purpose.

Remember, event space should not be simply a place to mingle or listen to somebody talking on a distant stage. It needn’t be a place where attendees feast on a menu designed by the hotel staff in a somewhat nondescript room. Instead, the venue could be an integral part of the experience, and this gives an enterprising planner a lot more scope for innovation.

Need to Be Flexible

For an event to be successful, everything starts at the planning stage. Potential attendees will look very carefully at any event agenda before deciding to attend, especially in the current landscape. These people are very conscious of safety and security and, if anything, even more entrenched in their ideas, feelings, and emotions. They’re not likely to be impressed by a venue or agenda that appears repetitive but may find something unconventional quite attractive instead.

Of course, a planner cannot throw all the rules out of the window and will need to consider accessibility, timing, and other fundamental logistical needs. After that, however, they should put all their previous experience to one side and start with a clean sheet of paper.

Searching Before You Build

To begin building the event’s intellectual capital, think about an unusual location with a special appeal. Look for a venue that is aesthetically pleasing and allows you to tap into local resources and provide some additional color. Business leaders, visionaries, scholars, or artisans could all contribute to the event in one way or the other, from an educational, artistic or support point of view. 

You could make this a core part of the event itself or weave some of these elements into breakouts, meals or closing functions. Your attendees will be impressed and far more likely to commit if they can see that you’re trying to do something different. They’ll feel that it is worth their time and, crucially, help you avoid their tendency to stay at home in this post-pandemic world.

Getting Started

But where do you start, especially if you’re working on a repeat event with its own proven agenda?

  1. Researching. Begin by looking at your attendee avatar. Send out some questionnaires and see if you can learn more about your potential attendee over and above their specific event profile. In so doing, you may decide that it would be better to relocate your events to a different city altogether. You might choose a location that is known for its food culture, vibrancy, or Bohemian nature, such as Portland, OR.
  2. Networking. Next, talk with the local convention and visitor’s bureau or other business support network in the town or city. See if they can give you some introductions to local leaders who could contribute to your event’s success. They may suggest an unusual venue that could meet your size requirements, so you can begin the negotiation process.
  3. Scheduling. You may have to be creative when it comes to scheduling. If you want to stage your event at a non-traditional venue, then you may have to work with their timing restrictions. If you’re bringing in scholars from a local university, then be aware of the end of term dates when they might not be around. Try to fit in with existing requirements that do not conflict with other obligations.
  4. Synchronizing. You will also have to convince your potential partners that your goals are aligned with theirs. This may be particularly important in environmentally conscious Portland, as you may need to work hard on your event’s carbon footprint. Ensure that your event objectives are clear and that they align with the goals and aspirations of your potential intellectual partners.

Worth the Effort

This may involve a lot of work at the planning stage, but it will be worthwhile. It may give your event an additional dimension and add a lot of color to your marketing mix. It may help you to move away from the predictable to the unusual – and enthuse your potential attendees.

Partners at Your Side

Of course, you will still need help when it comes to designing, planning, and executing and should work with an established pattern. eShow can take the strain while you redesign your package and bring a support package to help you manage the entire ecosystem of your event. Talk with eShow today to request a demo.

Have you ever received an invitation to an event and had a lukewarm reaction until… you saw that the event was being held in a fabulous locale? According to a study from the Journal of Convention & Event Tourism, you’re not alone. The study found that event attendees hold the venue (and local attractions) in higher regard than the event’s topic, networking opportunities, sessions offered, and cost.

As an event manager, you’ll still have to provide an enriching and immersive experience for attendees but venue selection will be one of the most critical decisions you’ll make during the planning process.  But what type of venue will pique attendees’ interest and ensure your desired registration rate? Upscale hotels and top-rated conference centers are nice but (yawn) rather overdone.

Why not think out of the box and offer attendees an experience that can serve double-duty as a business meeting/workshop/trade show and mini vacation? When considering a particular unique venue, it should not only be close to local attractions and have stellar amenities – it should be large enough and have a layout that accommodates your attendee list and technical needs (i.e. AV equipment).  During the Covid-19 pandemic, the selection of a larger venue (preferably outdoors) will allow for adequate “social distancing” and is an ideal way to show attendees that you care about their health and safety.  

Representing different regions of the United States, below are several “off the beaten path” venues to consider. A business-related event held in a mansion, castle, or winery? Definitely.

Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) –  New York City, NY

Not only is MOMA one of the largest and most influential museums of modern art in the world, but it has the capacity to accommodate your next event.

Ciccone Vineyard & Winery – Suttons Bay, MI

How would you like to offer attendees an opportunity to experience rolling hills, lush vines, and a striking view of West Grand Traverse Bay? This rustically charming venue has “star appeal” considering it’s owned by Madonna’s father who offers wine selections that honor the “Material Girl”. The capable staff is happy to work with other vendors to ensure a seamless experience.

Detroit Yacht Club – Detroit, MI

One of the oldest (and largest) yacht clubs in the world, the Detroit Yacht Club is adjacent to the Detroit River.  This impressive venue boasts magnificent Mediterranean architectural details and a spectacular view of the Detroit skyline. The club has both intimate and large spaces, accommodating events of varying sizes. It’s perfect if you’re seeking a unique venue that’s rich in history and grandeur.

Ebell LA – Los Angeles, CA

If you want to treat attendees to an Old Hollywood glamour experience (complete with gourmet dining), consider this venue. It was built in 1927 and offers three spaces in which to impress attendees with your fresh content: one of the ballrooms, the art salon, or the courtyard garden.

Planet Hollywood – Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; New York City, NY; Orlando, FL; Disneyland Paris; St. Julian’s, Malta; London

If you’ve ever visited a Planet Hollywood’s location, you already know that your attendees will be in for a truly epic visual experience.  Your content will have to be interesting to compete with this venue for attendees’ attention.  Flexible spaces featuring iconic movie scenes and rare Hollywood memorabilia will help create an event attendees won’t forget.

Oheka Castle – Huntington, NY

If you want an elegant setting with a rich history and modern-day luxuries, Oheka is the way to go (what can I say, it’s a castle after all). It’s designed to impress top executives and corporations in one of the 32 luxury guest rooms and suites, plus it offers 23 acres of formal gardens and lawns.  The versatile function rooms can accommodate events of 10 to 400 attendees.

Oheka is situated on Long Island in the serene town of Huntington, NY, between Manhattan and the Hamptons.

Desert Botanical Garden – Phoenix, AZ

Choose from indoor or outdoor spaces at this 140-acre botanical garden located in Papago Park. Attendees will be surrounded by over 4,000 varieties of desert plants and wildflowers and treated to a sumptuous gourmet meal. This venue can work with any budget or vision. It’s an ideal choice for events with a relaxed vibe.

East Ivy Mansion – Nashville, TN

Built in 1867, this Italian-Renaissance style mansion has been home to numerous owners and has survived several natural and man-made disasters with all of its original fixtures intact. The property has various rooms and areas for workshops, seminars, and fundraisers. Small group activities and meetings can take place in the intimate parlor, walnut library, or dining rooms. The spacious marble atrium/ballroom and a grand living room can accommodate larger groups. Tents and/or tables and chairs can also be set up in the gardens and courtyards.

Chicago Cultural Center – Chicago, IL

The Chicago Cultural Center is one of the city’s most popular attractions and the cultural heart of the downtown Loop neighborhood.  The stunning landmark building takes up an entire city block and is home to the world’s largest Tiffany stained-glass dome. Located across the street from Millennium Park, it can accommodate everything from small corporate meetings to large galas in spaces that include galleries, halls, and a theatre.

Final Thoughts

It bears repeating; location is the most important factor to consider when planning your event. If one of the venues above piques your interest but you don’t want to travel outside of your immediate area, you can always search for a similar local venue.

Although most of the venues above don’t offer lodging (you’re trying to get away from hotels, remember?), you’ll still appreciate eShow’s Housing & Travel Management module to help you manage reservations and track your room blocks.

Let eShow’s interactive Exhibit Sales & Floor Plan Management  module help you bring all of your exhibitor and floor plan tasks into one space. It can transform your hard copy floor plan into a virtual floor plan and allow exhibitors to select booths, add sponsorships, and make payments.

No matter how captivating your chosen venue is, you’ll still need to manage seat and/or table assignments. Our Banquet & Seating Management module makes it easy for attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors to purchase tables and sets for single or multiple events.

To find out more about how eShow can be of service, contact us today for a no-obligation demo

As an event planner, you must be on the lookout for ways to improve the event experience and ensure that your attendees make the most of their interaction. In the modern era, this means that you need to embrace the concept of artificial intelligence (AI) and understand that there are many ways to use these tools to make your event a success. Certainly, this is an ever-changing landscape as new products emerge, and existing products develop, and you’ll always need to be flexible and ready for the next “big thing.” In the meantime, here are six ways that you can capitalize on AI when planning your next masterpiece.

1. Early Planning

When you have to start with a clean sheet of paper, you need all the help you can get. You may be given a brief by a client but will still need to do a lot of detailed work. You have to locate venues, open discussions with appropriate vendors, and even reach out to people who may be interested in attending your event once it springs to life. In the past, you may have had to do all this manually, trawl through records or reach out to industry sources. Today, you may be able to use AI algorithms to find those perfect matches in a fraction of the time.

2. The Ubiquitous ChatBot

According to Exhibitor Magazine, the global chatbot market is expected to grow at an annual rate of more than 24% per year, reaching a value of $1.23 billion in 2025. While this is hardly new technology and, in fact, can be traced back half a century, the chatbot is nevertheless an element of AI that you simply cannot do without.

When you incorporate chatbot software, it can interact with people with a very high level of efficiency and can mimic human conversation remarkably well. You can program your chatbot to handle a wide variety of different questions at the event, and this will take a lot of the pressure off your staff members. Users can “talk” naturally or type questions and expect a considered answer.

Use the chatbot to handle all your frequently asked questions, give access to the event schedule and provide valuable feedback at the end. This will generate real-time insight into how attendees feel, their satisfaction levels and their reaction to your overall support. And the good news is that chatbots are relatively affordable these days – and scalable to any size of event.

3. It’s All in the Presentation

If you’re organizing a multifaceted event where attendees can choose their own agenda and where you may have multiple breakouts or peripheral meetings, AI is your friend. You can create a matchmaking engine powered by AI, which can provide recommendations to each attendee, so they can make the most of their participation.

The AI can analyze each attendee’s profile or behavior to suggest the most appropriate breakout. This will overcome the random nature of large events and make sure that these people are using their time most efficiently. Use the information you may gather during registration or other accessible data (if you have the permission) to make this type of AI work best.

4. There Is an App for That

You can use a variety of other apps on the event to further personalize the experience. If you have attendees from many different countries, remove the language barrier with a translation app powered by AI. Create a separate application to provide collateral so that you do not have to rely on paper handouts or schedules. 

This AI can also generate a survey to gauge satisfaction, and this can be rolled out at the point of delivery or midway through your event. You will get timely feedback and won’t have to wait for attendees to respond manually, as this often leads to lower quality data. eShow Event Management Solutions created a personalized event app that can be used as a mobile hub for all info on your event, connect with all attendees, and provide event support from start to finish!

5. Handling Safety and Security

You need to ensure that your venue is as secure as possible and that attendees are well cared for. Use AI to help confirm each attendee through biometric registration or facial recognition. You’ll be able to scan your guest as they pass from one part of the event to another and avoid close contact with a human being. Of course, in these socially distant days, that can only be a good thing.

Utilizing a pre-existing RF ID method to contact trace and provide safe parameters for your attendees is a great way to increase non-invasive COVID event processes.

6. Help with Forward Planning

You may have a finely tuned “gut feeling” that can tell you whether your event was a success or not, but still, you need measurable data so that you can make the next event more successful. Consequently, you need to use AI to gather that data, examine your event metrics and calculate your bottom line. 

Using the aforementioned apps, you’ll be able to gather a lot of this data during the event itself and before your attendees forget the details. You may even be able to make changes on the fly, but principally, you will get granular and high-quality data that can aid with your future decisions and planning.

With this type of focused data, you will know whether your keynote speakers were a success, whether people could navigate their way through the event and whether they felt that their time was used effectively. Use the information gathered by your AI today to improve the performance of your AI software on future events.

Crafting Your Event Management Solution

Whether you plan something that is in-person, digital or hybrid, you will need a raft of support and specific tools to help manage your event ecosystem. This is why you should turn to an industry-leading event management company like eShow. Here you will find professional tools and web-based solutions that can help you plan any size of event from beginning to end – and all underneath one umbrella. For example, build a registration hub at the outset, create a floor management plan, or handle attendee housing and travel. Make use of the Virtual Event Management platform, an all-inclusive solution that is built on experience.

So, as you put more of your faith in AI, work with a company like eShow to integrate these methods and make your next event a roaring success.

When the effects of the pandemic first became evident, some people were quick to predict the demise of the event industry. People simply wouldn’t want to meet each other face to face anymore in this “new world,” they hypothesized. Every type of meeting or event would now need to become virtual, and the industry would have to adapt accordingly. Of course, this opinion was premature, and the long-term effect short-lived, as the human condition will always require one-on-one interaction. As such, events will undoubtedly survive, but organizers will need to look at their offerings in a new light. They will need to be more creative, and especially when it comes to those venues. What do they need to take into account going forward?

Technology Expands Choice

Connected technology has been around for some time and was a part of the event picture prior to the pandemic. Indeed, PCMA discussed the challenge to the event organizer back in 2018 but went on to talk about how this type of tech could impact venue selection. Today, cheaper and easier to access technology can open up venues that may once have been unable to cope or even impractical.

Moving Away from Predictability

This ties in nicely to a bigger overall trend in the event industry: to move away from the conventional and to “go rogue” when it comes to venue selection. Today, people want far more than just a predictable conference room, so organizers can often inspire attendees by choosing something unique or special based on the demographic or overall aspiration.

Safety First

Further, safety is still on the top of the list for event requirements and is likely to remain so for some time. While the pandemic should slowly fade into the background, the after-effects will linger, and potential attendees will make crucial decisions based on their perception of safety.

Off the Beaten Track

Consequently, why not move away from the traditional, easy to access convention center and look for something more rural. Your attendees may feel more inspired if they are closer to nature and safer when it comes to potential exposure to not just strangers but city center pollution and other factors.

Experiential

Many attendees are looking for a real experience in everything that they do. If your venue has a “wow” factor or can present them with an “Instagrammable” moment, they may be more likely to attend and give you positive feedback at the end. The venue’s draw will attract delegates, and your client may be far more likely to engage if they believe that their customers, suppliers or staff will be happier.

Better Learning Environment

If your event is educational, you may provide a more suitable and creative learning environment, should you go rogue. After all, adults are more likely to retain information if they receive it in a positive external environment. In this case, as they enjoy a positive sensory experience, they are likely to remain engaged and take on board more information. As such, you should find a venue that is as far away from a conventional conference room as possible. By doing so, you can avoid any predictable setup and get off to a better start.

Pros and Cons of the Conventional

It’s much easier to choose a conventional venue and especially when it comes to design, set up and delivery. After all, hotels are fully focused on this area as they earn the majority of their profits from events like this. They have full-time staff members who are only too keen to help an event organizer produce something special, and they will, within the constraints of the space available, do their utmost to please.

Yet, there is only so much that you, as an event organizer, can do with a space that is designed to please as many different tastes as possible. As “easy” as it may be to work within this environment, it’s a lot harder to be inspirational and to generate that much-needed “wow” factor.

Unusual Venues May Have Complications

If you set out to find an unusual venue, you have to take on the added complications. After all, meetings or events may not be their primary focus by the very nature of these venues. Some venues may never have organized an event of any kind, while others may be interested, but you may have to deal with additional issues.

Timing

Consider timing carefully. The venue may not be available around the clock like a typical hotel or convention center. The management team may have to consider business interruption and its effect on their existing clientele or bottom line.

Clarity

It may also be more difficult to get a clear picture of how your event will look when everything is set up, so you can create a successful event. You need to work closely with the venue to see exactly what they can achieve as you envision the end result. Above all else, make sure that you use all the available space effectively with creativity to the fore if you’re going to get the best return on both your objective and investment.

Fewer Restrictions

On the flip side, your unusual venue may come with fewer restrictions. As they may also be working with a clean sheet of paper and have not staged the type of event before, they may well buy into your creative thinking. This is not always the case when it comes to a conventional venue, where there are often strict rules and regulations to adhere to.

Budgetary Help

You may also find that you have more leeway from a budgetary perspective. An up-and-coming destination may not have set aspirations, and venue hire costs may be lower.

Blending Business and Leisure

The new venue may be a destination in itself, as well. You may be able to blend business and leisure by moving away from the corporate feel of that convention center.

Go outside the Box

As the event industry returns to normal, think outside of the box. Give your attendees a reason to commit and make sure that they will have the experience to remember. Sell your alternative venue on the basis of safety, accessibility and inspiration. Your delegates are far more likely to be engaged and help you achieve your ultimate objective.

Shouldering the Work

As you plan, work with partners who can make everything a lot easier. eShow can provide you with an all-in-one event management platform, from registration to session management, from general layout to revenues. When you work with eShow, you will get to worry less about the detail – and have much more time to focus on that unique venue.

While hybrid events provide much-needed flexibility in an uncertain world, they’ve also created a new challenge for event planners and organizers. Now that attendees have the option of enjoying events from the comfort of their homes, planners must work even harder to make in-person events attractive.

The cost of travel, changing COVID restrictions, and the potential risk that comes with exposure to large crowds have all combined to make large events in exotic locations far less appealing to both organizers and attendees. While large events are still possible currently, they come with a lot of complications. This has led forward-thinking planners to embrace smaller, more exclusive events and unique “micro-experiences.” The shift has been well-received, making it likely that micro-experiences are here to stay.

What is a Micro-Experience?

Before diving into the details of how to make this strategy work for you, it’s helpful to explain exactly what we mean by “micro-experience.” In simple terms, this is a small, intimate, and hyper-personalized event that is either a stand-alone affair or an offshoot of a larger event. Micro-experiences often have a luxury feel, taking the “boutique” events of the past to a whole new level.

The Benefits of Micro-Experiences

The general consensus is that holding smaller outdoor events is a key to reducing airborne transmission risks. This makes them more appealing to attendees who are hesitant to go out into larger crowds right now. However, it’s important to remember that managing fear is not the same as creating value.

While fewer attendees may mean fewer risks, many may worry that it also means fewer opportunities to network and create new business opportunities. To overcome this concern, planners must make lower attendance numbers a selling point rather than a drawback. Luckily, this is easy to do. Aside from the potential health and logistical benefits of restricting crowd size during a pandemic, there are many other advantages of incorporating micro-experiences into your events.

While lower attendance numbers may mean attendees make fewer connections, they also focus on quality rather than quantity. A more intimate environment fosters a greater engagement with both the brand and with each other. It also allows attendees to feel like an integral part of the event, rather than just a number.

Working on a much smaller scale allows you to create unique experiences that audiences otherwise could not access. In addition, customizing every possible aspect of your event gives you the ability to appeal to a particular niche audience, fostering deeper engagement and increasing brand loyalty.

3 Successful Types of Micro-Experiences

What type of micro-experiences are the most effective? Event organizers are currently finding incredible success with exclusive luxury experiences, personal development and team-building activities, and wellness excursions. Let’s take a closer look at each.  

1. Exclusive Luxury Events

Offering exclusive, one-of-a-kind luxury experiences is one of the most effective ways to attract event attendees. From an open-air adventure on a private yacht to an event held “backstage” in an otherwise restricted area, the key to success lies in offering a truly unique and fully immersive experience. 

Limiting an event to 100 or fewer participants and including perks like live musical performances and private catering increases the appeal, particularly for attendees who have been cooped up at home for the majority of the past two years. It’s also relatively simple to incorporate a virtual audience into this type of micro-experience, allowing you to keep the in-person event intimate while also selling more tickets and attracting potential sponsorships.

2. Personal Development and Teambuilding

With smaller crowds comes the ability to offer hands-on workshops, intimate team-building activities, and other opportunities to focus on personal development. When planning these types of micro-experiences, it’s important to give attendees the VIP treatment. For example, you can turn a series of outdoor team-building games into a truly memorable experience by following it with a catered dinner on the beach and a bonfire.

3. Wellness Getaways

Many corporate events are information-heavy, making it essential to provide opportunities to briefly step away without completely checking out. Incorporating micro-experiences designed to help attendees relax and unwind will help make the overall more enjoyable and memorable. 

Incorporating activities like yoga and meditation sessions will give attendees the break they need so they can come back refreshed and ready to re-engage. Most venues can also easily set up the necessary equipment to record these sessions and broadcast them to your virtual audience as well.

Personalization is Key

Limiting the size of an event does not automatically turn it into a micro-experience. If you want to create something truly memorable, you must take personalization to a whole new level. Offering highly customized experiences will help you connect with your audience faster and more deeply by showing that you understand and care about their individual needs. 

Throughout every element of the event, ask yourself how you can create more choices for attendees. This could be anything from using movable furniture to allow guests to make their own seating arrangements to giving attendees a wealth of session options to choose from throughout the day. 

For hybrid events, it’s essential to customize the digital side as well. From choosing the way the text scrolls on the screen to offering a choice of uniquely branded cursors, there are many ways for virtual attendees to enjoy a highly personal experience. For both in-person and virtual attendees, look for ways to offer curated suggestions. Show them how they can customize the way they interact in the moment and provide personalized ideas for things they may enjoy doing between sessions.  

Prepare for the Events of the Future

All signs point to it being the perfect time to take a step back from huge events and focus on creating highly personalized micro-experiences. While planning hybrid events, it’s also important to create an incredible in-person experience while providing an equally unique virtual experience. Doing so isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it. 

eShow can show you how to create incredibly memorable micro-experiences that skyrocket your event engagement. From a full-featured virtual event management platform to gamification and travel management, we offer a comprehensive solution for all of your event planning needs. Contact us today to schedule a free demo!

While many attendees are thrilled to be heading out to in-person events again, before you know it, they’ll also be sick to death of the same-old stuff. Conventional venues are still appropriate for certain types of events, but if you don’t want to bore your guests, thinking outside the box is the name of the game.

When choosing the venue for your next event, remember that it’s not just a place where people gather to hear speakers or enjoy a cocktail hour. The event venue is a major part of the overall experience. Choose a predictable and boring venue, and there’s a very good chance your event will be… predictable and boring.

Imagine what could happen if you broke the mold and tried something new! Choosing an unconventional and unexpected venue will allow you to influence how your audience feels, encourage creative thinking, create a buzz, and spark exciting new conversations.

Are you ready to make a splash? Here’s a look at how to make non-traditional event venues work for you.

3 Rules for Choosing Unusual Event Venues

Sadly, you can’t just plop your next event out on a rural piece of farmland and expect it to be an instant success. However, if you follow these three simple rules, you’ll be well on your way to creating an event that’s both exciting and totally buzz-worthy.

1. Choose the Right Vibe for Your Brand

Unconventional event spaces are all around us – but choosing your venue is not just about finding a cool space. You also need to make sure the character of the space matches the brand’s voice and signature style.

For example, a brand breaking into the luxury market is far more suited to an event held in a mansion than one that’s out in the woods. When choosing venues, always consider what the space says about the event itself and the overall brand message.

2. Maximize the “Wow” Factor

Nobody goes home from an event and brags about the meeting room or convention center. If you want to create a buzz, make sure the venue makes an amazing first impression. Start setting the mood before attendees even walk in the front door. Look for spaces with impressive exteriors or extend an indoor venue outside. Use this space to create an experience and build anticipation. Live actors, outdoor welcome drinks, and grand entrances can all help get attendees pumped for the amazing event they’re about to experience.

It’s often even easier to make a bold first impression with outdoor spaces. They provide more opportunities to create a “Wow” factor and greater options for customization. Just remember that if you choose an outdoor venue, you’ll have to keep a sharp eye on the weather and have a “Plan B” in place.

3. Never Sacrifice Quality

You may think you’ve found your dream venue – but if the space can’t handle the logistics of your event, the dream can quickly turn into a nightmare. Many non-conventional spaces are sparse on amenities. Make sure you never sacrifice the quality of your event for the “coolness” of the space.

At a bare minimum, make sure you have sufficient power sources, good reception, and Wi-Fi capabilities. Not only will you need this for your speakers and entertainment, but you’ll also want to make sure guests can freely share photos and videos of your Instagram-worthy venue. 

It’s also critical to make sure the venue is large enough to comfortably hold all your attendees and that the bathroom situation is on-point. Check the seating capabilities, make sure all your technology will work in the space, and be sure the location is easily accessible to your guests.

If you’re thinking of using a venue where an event like yours has never been held before, give yourself enough time to assess the space, work out the logistics, and create backup plans.

Exciting Venues to Consider

Attendees are craving something different and want to attend events in places they haven’t seen before. One important key to choosing an unconventional event venue is to make sure it’s not designed specifically for events. 

Not quite sure where to start? These ideas are sure to spark your imagination.

Rural/Agricultural Locations

Farmland offers plenty of space to get creative, and a clean barn can be the perfect venue for a “shabby-chic” event. This is also a great option for brands that want to promote an eco-friendly image.  

When planning an event in a rural space, be sure to stay consistent with the theme. This is a good time to skip the upscale caterer and choose a local establishment instead.

Rooftops

The incredible view makes rooftop spaces an excellent option for many different types of events, including corporate events and pop-up dinners. During the day, guests can enjoy the picturesque view of the skyline and the streets below. Schedule an evening event to give guests the opportunity to experience an incredible sunset followed by the picture-perfect view of the city lights.

Experiential Event Venues

Planning an event at a location people already want to see creates a built-in sense of anticipation.  Some options to consider include botanical gardens, zoos, art galleries, museums, racetracks, or amusement parks. Not only are these spaces really cool on their own, but the event gives guests the chance to experience the space in a new and different way.

Architectural Spaces

Holding events in architectural spaces gives you a major opportunity to capitalize on the “Wow” factor. Some options include a train station, airplane hangar, or a warehouse. The sheer amount of space also gives you a ton of flexibility for decoration and design.

Parking Lots & Garages

When looking for a large outdoor space to hold your event, a parking lot gives you almost unlimited options. You can add tents for cover, place a band or stage in the middle, and use a circle of food trucks to define the space.

Of course, this won’t be appropriate for all types of events. To create an experience that feels a bit more upscale while still having an urban vibe, use all the same ideas but put them on the top floor of a parking garage.

Cutting-Edge Tools for Your Next Event

Moving events out of ballrooms and into fun and exciting locations requires planners and organizers to perform at their very best. No matter what venue you choose, eShow’s comprehensive suite of solutions will help you pull it off without a hitch.

Our experts are happy to help you explore your options and build a custom package for your needs. Contact us today to schedule a live personalized demo.

As an event planner, you’ve got to wear many hats. You need to be practical but creative, assertive but also compassionate. In fact, you need to be both left-brained and right-brained, even though conventional thinking says that you should be either/or. Certainly, this can make for a challenging but also satisfying career, but it will also require some careful planning along the way to ensure that you are always ready for whatever comes in front of you. In particular, you need to focus on your EQ (emotional quotient) and especially in these unusual times. What do you need to think about here?

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Most people are familiar with the concept of IQ, or the standard measure of mental capability. The term is often used in business, and there are tests to measure where you stand according to a scale. Not many people know about EQ, but it is definitely worth looking into it as an event planner.

Your emotional quotient or intelligence can undoubtedly help you to deal with the everyday stresses of event planning. It can help you ground yourself and work out why you are planning the event in question, and it can help you keep your sanity when things get awry.

If you focus on building your emotional intelligence through mindfulness, then you’ll be able to use those emotions in positive ways. You will plan more effective and more meaningful events, become more empathetic, and help to keep stress levels low all around you. In short, you could stop a problem from developing into a crisis while you help others deal with their stressors as well.

Positive Thinking

Don’t dismiss this idea as “woo-woo.” EQ is valuable, and it can help you be much more successful as an event planner. It can help you to interact with colleagues and customers more effectively and generate positive energy wherever you go. If you are seen as more successful and as pleasant to be around, success, both in personal and professional terms, will follow.

What are some of the ways to foster emotional intelligence?

  • Try to be self-reliant. Of course, you cannot run an event by yourself, and it is definitely a team game. But you must know that you have the answers within you, leading to more self-confidence.
  • Be assertive in everything that you do. Assertiveness is different to dominance or aggression and means that you need to be polite, fair, but firm. People will respect you for this, and you will generate energy at the same time.
  • Be optimistic. This is the glass-half-full approach, and while it can sometimes be challenging to think this way, get into the habit of catching yourself when you may be prone to negative thinking. There are many resources available to help you practice positivity through mindfulness. Listen to podcasts, read books, and try to interact with people who are known for their general positivity. Likewise, try to avoid those who fall on the other side of that spectrum, as negativity can certainly rub off if you’re not careful.
  • Be empathetic. This is increasingly important in today’s challenging world. Many people are going through emotional turmoil and finding it hard to cope, and you should be looking for signs of this throughout your relationships. As an empathetic event planner, you will look at each event through a different prism. You will make sure that your motives are clear, your objectives are fair and that you take the needs and wants of everyone else into account at each planning stage.

Embrace Wellness

The global pandemic has brought health and fitness into sharp perspective for almost everybody. While this has been a particularly difficult time for the event industry, it’s been an even more difficult time for millions of ordinary people who have seen heartbreak all around them or may have had to come to terms with their own mortality. This is a serious situation that needs to be addressed by every event planner as they go forward. Planners need to understand that wellness is now a top priority, and it must be incorporated, in one way or another, into each event that they run.

Soft Skills

Of course, as you develop your EQ, you will become more empathetic and want to ensure that those around you (both customers and colleagues) are doing well. You’ll want to develop your soft skills and help others around you to do the same. Consequently, each element of the event should be viewed through this lens so that you can create an event that can help others grow.

When you look at every element of your event, ask yourself whether you can improve its delivery from a wellness point of view. If you do that, you’ll make all your attendees feel more comfortable and be far more likely to attend one of your events in the future.

Eat Well

If your event features catering, look carefully at the menu. Of course, you will need to provide options, but add as many “brain-friendly” foods to the menu as possible. Work with a nutritionist, if need be, to help you strike that balance.

Mental Well-Being

If you’re organizing a conference, consider adding a breakout related to mental health and well-being issues. Don’t be afraid to raise these subjects and provide an inclusive environment where people can discuss as needed.

To Your Health

Think about general health in addition to mental well-being. Incorporate some measures to help your attendees and understand that some elements of your event could be stressful from a physical perspective.

  • Perhaps you can employ a masseur in a breakout area that can help anyone who feels particularly stiff and sore after a lengthy keynote.
  • Make sure you build breaks into every session and encourage people to wander outside in the fresh air or even engage in some quick physical activities.
  • Where you can, add some background music. You may want to read up about a theory called neuromusicology, which discusses the therapeutic effect of music on the mind and body.
  • Think carefully about your event’s color scheme. If necessary, avoid some of the darker colors and incorporate blues or yellows to aid in creativity and calm.
  • You might even consider aromatherapy. Experiment with your approach, but see if you can change the different aromas throughout the day to take into account the type of session you are planning or counter any mental fatigue after lunch. Various scents may help to calm your attendees and promote overall wellness.

Champion Your Corporate Social Responsibility

No event exists in a vacuum, and planners need to be aware of the environment all around. They need to be able to schedule some activities that recognize corporate social responsibility, to help communities in the general area during difficult times.

These activities can be powerful tools when it comes to building relationships with clients. They can provide added benefits such as increased brand recognition and an all-important “feel good” factor for participants.

Leading by Example

According to the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), these activities are a perfect example of the positive impact of events and exhibitions on local communities. IAEE leads the way with an annual event called Humanity Rocks – a Celebration with a Cause, which has raised funds for a children’s home and shelter.

When event planners come up with a way to include meaningful activities as part of a CSR plan, everybody wins. Participants feel engaged and more loyal to the company, while you, as the event planner, are seen as somebody who goes the extra mile. Don’t forget that both you and your colleagues can enjoy that feel-good factor as well and add to your EQ at the same time.

Working with Like-Minded People

Of course, event planners need to use tools and services to help them plan and produce their events, as there is a tremendous amount of work involved. So, in this era of more accountability, corporate social responsibility, and closer engagement, it makes sense to work with a company that is wholly aligned to these principles and goals.

This is why you should engage with eShow, an organization founded in 1996 that’s helped event managers like yourself run thousands of events worldwide. eShow is an agency with a difference, however. They want to help you build meaningful and long-lasting relationships by providing a raft of services – and to help build synergy across the board.

Honesty and Transparency through Engagement

The team at eShow fully understand how an event should be produced from start to finish and can apply this expertise across all three event models – in person, virtual or hybrid. Most importantly, the team truly cares about not just you as the event planner but your team, the attendees, and the end result. After all, they are all about honesty and transparency through engagement and will never stray away from their core values. 

So, give eShow a call and see how they can help you to build that all-important event EQ.

Thinking outside the box and keeping your audience engaged are two critical keys to any successful event. Now that virtual and hybrid events have become the norm, organizers must work even harder to keep energy high and hold their attendees’ attention.

Integrating games and competitions into events, also called “gamification,” is one of the hottest trends right now. Adding gamification to your event is one of the best ways to increase engagement, heighten brand awareness, and drive attendees to perform desired actions.

What is Gamification? The Basics

Despite its recent rise in popularity, there’s still some confusion about gamification and what it isn’t. It’s important to note that it’s not about turning your event into a big competition or creating something that resembles a fair; instead, event gamification is simply the process of incorporating game mechanics into the overall event experience. 

It works because humans, by nature, like to compete; they also feel a strong sense of satisfaction when rewarded for their efforts. Gamification taps into this psychology to drive desired behaviors in a fun and exciting way. 

Using Gamification to Drive Action

Defining your desired outcome is the first step to successfully incorporating gamification into your events. Whether you’re trying to build your prospect list, upsell to current customers, or increase brand awareness, it’s essential to know how you’ll measure your success.

While gamification can add a significant amount of entertainment to your event, this shouldn’t be the only purpose. Instead, it should always be linked to a specific goal that directly relates to the success of your event. For example, you may aim for a 30% increase in exhibitor interactions or a 25% increase in attendee referrals.

Once you’re clear on your goals, choosing the best gamification format for your event is much easier. For example, if you want to ensure your sponsors and exhibitors get plenty of traffic, you may offer points for each display they visit.

Some other ways to use gamification to drive action include:

  • Awarding points for correctly answering trivia questions during the event
  • Checking off boxes on BINGO cards for completing specific tasks
  • Hiding secret codes at various locations throughout the event space
  • Creating a scavenger hunt and awarding clues for taking particular actions
  • Offering the ability to earn titles and “level up” for completing several tasks
  • Giving points or rewards for inviting others to attend the event

Using a mobile app with gaming capabilities will help you design and launch your gamification plan. While it’s critical to have the right technology in place, simply providing access to an app isn’t enough. You’ll also need to motivate your attendees to participate in the games and make it worth their while. Do it right, and you’ll create loyal brand advocates who will be talking about your event long after it’s over.

Motivating Attendees

Since most people enjoy a bit of friendly competition, providing visual incentives like leaderboards, notifications, and personal scorecards can help keep your attendees motivated.

For in-person meetings, you may also consider giving out color-coded lanyards or badges for reaching certain levels. This will keep your gamification top-of-mind and encourage a competitive spirit.

Make sure your games are challenging enough to give participants a sense of achievement, but not so difficult or complex that attendees get frustrated or lose interest. It’s also essential to monitor your gamification in real-time. Keep an eye on how close participants are to earning awards and how engaged they are. If enthusiasm seems to be waning, make sure to send notifications reminding them how close they are to receiving a reward.

Choosing Rewards and Prizes

If you want people to get excited about your games, you’ll need prizes or rewards they want. While there are many options, ultimately, you’ll want to make sure the rewards you choose surprise and delight your guests.

For multi-day events, you may consider awarding experiences such as a VIP happy hour, a special dinner, a massage at the hotel spa, or an exclusive outing for those who reach certain levels.

Some organizations offer to donate to a charity of the winner’s choice, while others stick to traditional prizes, like a t-shirt and a coffee mug. As you choose the awards for your event, it’s crucial to think about what the prize says about your organization and the lasting impression you want to make.

Benefits of Gamification

Adding gamification to your event is an excellent way to guide your attendees to the actions you want them to take. It also makes them more comfortable, because they’ll know exactly what’s expected of them. In addition, when attendees are fully engaged, they’re more aware of their surroundings, allowing for deeper interaction with presenters and exhibitors.

Properly implemented, gamification converts “attendees” into “participants.” It helps them become fully immersed in the moment, learn new things, and get more out of the event than they otherwise would.

Gamification can create a fun and relaxed atmosphere and ensure a positive and rewarding experience. It can also significantly increase your return on investment by helping you to reach your predefined goals.

Add Gamification to Your Next Event

While the concept of gamification has created a lot of buzz lately, only a small number of organizers are currently using it to its full potential. By using gamification to upgrade your event experience now, you can ensure your events will stand out from the crowd. It will also allow you to increase both participants and sponsor engagement, encourage deeper connections, increase your session attendance, and improve the overall experience.

To learn more about how eShow can help you add gamification to your next event, request a personal demo. We’re happy to show you exactly how our mobile app works and help you choose the perfect line-up of products to ensure your next event is a stellar success.