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During late 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns and stay-at-home mandates severely impacted the meeting and events industry. Companies and countries imposed strict travel restrictions, while mask and social distancing mandates put a damper on live occasions.

What a difference a year makes.

IIn 2021, the meeting and event industry adapted to pandemic-created challenges, leading to innovative events. As of now, in-person events, complete with social-distancing measures, vaccination requirements, and mask mandates, are starting to come back. But what will happen in 2022? The likelihood is strong that even as live events ramp up, digital and hybrid happenings will continue to be part of the event-planning landscape.

Returning, In Person

One hard-to-ignore fact is that people are anxious to get back together, especially when it comes to live meetings and events.

The Global Recovery Insights 2021 report backs this assertion with numbers. According to exhibitors surveyed, half anticipated that their budgets would return to normal by the end of 2022. Additionally, 62% of exhibitors surveyed said they plan to attend shows in person at the same or increased frequency as before.

The report also surveyed attendees; 72% of participants indicated they would be attending in-person events and shows in 2022.

Another interesting fact about this report is that digital events haven’t replaced live events. Respondents noted that face-to-face happenings are preferable when it comes to networking, education, and overall experience. However, this doesn’t mean that digital events are going away.

Hybrid, the Continued Tool

One thing to count on in 2022 is that hybrid events will continue. However, the issue to keep in mind is that “hybrid” can mean various things.

According to Meeting Planners International, a hybrid event combines “technology with traditional event practices to create new types of attendee experiences and content delivery tools.” As such, these events can focus on at least one group of face-to-face attendees, which connects virtually with participants in other locations.

Regardless of the form a hybrid event takes, experts, believe they will be a mainstay of 2022 events for the following reasons.

Young Adults and Millennial Preference

According to Charles Vincent with Spur Impact, younger adults have been partial to in-real-life (IRL) virtual meetings and events. He noted that young adults, especially, are becoming more used to multitasking and working on multiple screens.

Broader Audience Reach

report from Qualtrics forecasts that while digital (formerly virtual) events are still preferred, a combination of online and in-person events will be essential to appeal to larger audiences. Many attendees and exhibitors are still leery of travel, making a hybrid happening a good strategy.

Continued Remote Work Preference

Not all corporate offices are open. In fact, companies are more accepting of remote work, especially among employees with kids. This has translated to event attendance. During 2020, a high percentage of working parents attended digital events, and this trend continued in 2021 and is likely to continue in the coming year.

More Sophisticated Content

During 2020 and 2021, planners developed content that was ideal for hybrid events. In 2022, session recordings and PowerPoints will be more available for those attendees unable to travel to an in-person event or who could not attend a digital event when it was live.

Potential Emotional Obstacles

There is indeed a pent-up demand when it comes to in-person events. However, people are still nervous when it comes to issues such as COVID-19 transmission rates. As such, it will be easier to offer a hybrid format, especially for those who are nervous about attending events in person.

The Hyperlocal Impact

Another trend continuing into 2022 will be hyperlocality. Rather than hosting a single meeting or event at a centralized location, planners and schedulers will take advantage of regional spaces (such as limited-service hotels or meeting spaces) and host simultaneous events there.

Local events with a robust digital component offer several benefits, not the least of which is a lower risk of viral transmission. Furthermore, this setup will help cut back on travel expenses for attendees. This can be an important consideration, especially as businesses are dealing with last year’s pandemic-created recession.

Worker and Staffing Challenges

Finally, staffing shortages will be an issue as people return to events and meetings (whether in-person, digital, or hybrid). One reason for this is because event planning companies had to cut staff in 2020 and 2021 and are trying to ramp up their teams. As such, labor shortages could mean that “auxiliary” staff, such as artists, technicians, audiovisual specialists, and florists, might be more challenging to find and hire.

Preparing For 2022

When thinking about your meetings and events in 2022, it’s essential to realize that this will be vastly different from 2019, before the pandemic. As such, consider the following suggestions for a successful event next year.

Begin planning now. If you have not already started to book your 2022 event, it’s crucial you do so now. As mentioned above, staffing shortages will be an issue next year. Furthermore, as more companies and organizations plan their events, you could run into competition for experts, small meeting spaces, or even bandwidth.

Make sure your plan covers live and digital components. When setting up packages, people, and assistance, ensure that the correct components are fitted with the proper method deliveries. For example, not all speakers will be comfortable on a virtual platform.

Be flexible and creative. During 2020 and 2021, event planners develop unique and innovative ways to engage hybrid and digital attendees. It’s vital to continue innovation in 2022. Whether they are tuning in virtually or coming to see your event live, your attendees want to be engaged. Speaking of which . . .

Know your audience’s likes, dislikes, and tolerances. In other words, delve deeply into data. Audience feedback in 2022 will be more critical than ever, and understanding what works with your attendees and exhibitors means a better event experience. For example, planning your hybrid event might be a good idea to focus on shorter micro-events spread out over a couple of days versus one large, hours-long main event.

2020 involved shutdowns and the need for digital platforms, while 2021 experienced meetings and events comeback. We anticipate that 2022 will see an even more significant resurgence. Additionally, the positive advantages realized from hybrid and hyper-local happenings will carry over into next year. The best way to take advantage of this is to know what your attendees and exhibitors want. With this knowledge, your next-year event can be the one that is remembered and appreciated.

No one can deny that the Covid-19 pandemic has affected all facets of our lives, including face-to-face gatherings.  Now that restrictions and mandates have been somewhat relaxed, people are yearning to shed their comfy sweats and pajamas, stop Zoomin’, and get back to making real emotional connections. Event managers recognize this and although virtual and hybrid events are seen as a way forward (there are too many benefits for event managers to give them the old heave-ho), they’re still trying to satisfy clients who prefer in-person events. 

As an event manager operating in the post-Covid-19 space, you’ll be tasked with not only ensuring an enriching experience for in-person attendees but a safe one as well. Despite relaxed restrictions and decreasing case numbers, the pandemic is still in force. To give attendees something worth shedding their jammies for, you’ll need to consider the following practices when planning your events:

1.  Consider the Why’s

To have a successful event and ensure that attendees have a positive experience, it’s important to consider why you’re holding the event in the first place. Are you looking to boost revenue or strengthen your brand message? What does your audience hope to gain by attending your event? Even with safety measures in place, attendees expect to see your creativity and innovation on full display. Deliver the goods and they’ll likely attend future events.

If you can create an environment in which you meet company goals and give attendees valuable take-aways, you’ll strike gold.

2.  Take It Outside

Outdoor spaces have become a safer option for everything from baby showers to restaurant dining, so why not consider an outdoor setting for your events? If your events will take place in locales with favorable weather year-round, you won’t have to schedule them during the spring and summer months only.

Be prepared to provide tents, porta-johns, and, of course, PPE (personal protective equipment) like masks and temperature check devices. This will increase your costs and staffing needs but if it will show that you take the health and safety of your attendees seriously, it’s worth it.

3.  Keep ‘Em Connected But Not Too Close

Post-Covid, event managers will need to foster opportunities for attendees to connect yet remain safe. Once events are back in “full swing”, most venues won’t be at full capacity and social distancing will likely still be in place. Consider incorporating additional safety signs and entry and exit points in your event spaces when planning the layout. Some companies are opting for larger facilities and creative layouts to aid in keeping attendees safely distanced.

For added safety, make as many of your processes (from check-in to photo ops) contactless. Take advantage of technology  to accomplish this. When promoting your event, convey the safety measures that will be implemented. Although some attendees may be comfortable throwing caution to the wind and doing the “mask whip-off”, there are some who will still want to see sound safety measures in place.

4.  Gamify the Experience

Whether your event takes place in an indoor or outdoor space, optimize attendees’ experience by gamifying it. Award prizes to attendees who visit the most exhibits or sponsor booths. Put on your creativity cap and find ways to enhance the experience for attendees while driving more traffic to sponsor booths. Want attendees to visit specific booths (i.e. for top sponsors)? Motivate them by holding contests (with prizes) directed at those particular booths.

Encourage and incentivize attendees to join social media conversations and post about the event.

5.  Hybrid For the Win

Although there’s a push for returning to live events, the hybrid event format can be beneficial to both event managers and attendees. For event managers (and their clients), eliminating geographic restrictions leads to increased attendance and reduced costs. Attendees benefit by being able to attend an event without having to travel across the country in some cases. They’re also able to connect with and share feedback with like-minded individuals.

According to Joanne Dennison, School of Hospitality adjunct professor of hospitality meeting and event planning at Boston University, “hybrid meetings will be the norm as opposed to the exception. People can attend face-to-face or virtually.”  Again, this increase in attendance yields higher revenue for companies (in the form of registration fees) and allows those who can’t afford travel costs to participate in the event.

If the benefits of a hybrid event resonate with you, prepare to face what some event managers consider to be their biggest challenge when hosting hybrid events: connecting the two groups. In a survey conducted by Swapcard, of 352 event planners polled, 33.5% said engaging two audiences when hosting hybrid events was their biggest challenge. Most event managers seek to connect the two groups of attendees because they feel it allows for more organic networking opportunities and makes it easier for speakers and moderators to engage with all attendees.

To meet the growing demands for hybrid events and deal with this obstacle and others, eShow offers a full range of solutions that will help you accommodate both your virtual and in-person attendees and save time, money, and resources.

Final Thoughts

Planning an event at any time can be challenging but planning an event when a national health crisis is still in effect presents unique challenges. As companies and the general public yearn for returning to in-person gatherings, event managers are tasked with not only ensuring that attendees have a positive experience but that they have a safe one as well.

Post-Covid, hybrid events are expected to be around for a long time because of the benefits offered to event managers/clients and attendees. With adequate planning, creativity, and taking advantage of available technology, managers can provide all hybrid event attendees with opportunities to make meaningful connections whether they opt to attend virtually or live.

At eShow, we provide event managers with an event “safety net” by helping them move their in-person events (or part of the event) to a virtual format. Our robust platform:

– Allows for better ROI

– Allows event organizers to reach out to attendees who aren’t able to attend in person

– Allows for increased engagement between virtual and in-person attendees

We understand that enhancing the attendee experience is key to having a successful event so we make it easy for attendees and speakers/organizers 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. From event branding to strategy to vendor management, we’re with you every step of the way.

Contact us today for a no-obligation demo

Let’s face it. COVID-19 has created a profound change in the way we meet and exchange ideas. Event organizers and managers are now faced with a sink-or-swim challenge – creating imaginative new ways to hold events or bust.

Out of necessity, but accustomed to always having a ‘Plan B,’ event organizers quickly pivot to a whole new world of challenges. Now the hybrid event, a combination of in-person and virtual experiences, is becoming the hottest trend in planning and holding events.

Organizing registrations, boosting virtual engagement, and networking for the hybrid option now propels your responsibilities to new heights. No less daunting is the task of ensuring that the technical aspects of hybrid events roll out without a hitch. Requirements for the audio, visual, and lighting aspects of a hybrid event have become doubly important.

Here are some tips to help you take on these technical challenges while considering attendees’ two different experiences during a hybrid event.

Choose A Venue That Can Support Technical Needs

For the in-person piece of your hybrid event, you have many new boxes to check when choosing a venue. Everything from a schedule to sanitize surfaces, to room airflow and physical distancing is now on your list. Audio, visual, and lighting capabilities should also be on your list when narrowing down the venue choices. But more on that below. First, let’s look at the factors affecting the streaming of your event.

High-Speed Internet + Loads of Bandwidth is A Must!

Maybe you’re planning a large-scale hybrid event that includes online learning applications, streaming audio/video, and the ability to download brochures or other digital materials. You’re going to need the highest speed internet and bandwidth possible. This is true, not only for online participants. In-person attendees also need uninterrupted access to their email and any streaming or virtual elements needed to connect with the remote participants.

Imagine a  couple hundred people using mobile devices and laptops simultaneously to participate in online polls, attend virtual lounges, and consume streaming audio/video. That’s going to take a lot of bandwidth! The more attendees you have, the higher the demand.

Inadequate speed and bandwidth can ruin your audio and video with remote participants experiencing lag time, or even worse – seeing a frozen screen and leaving the event thinking they’ve lost their own connection.

Ask the venue for their upload/download speeds. If your venue can’t support the demand or the cost is prohibitive, investigate purchasing an internet package from an ISP that provides wireless service for major events. You might even arrange for your own private network, which means you won’t have to worry about outsiders in the same venue gobbling up bandwidth.

Audio

What is the most common phrase you’ve heard online over the past year?

“You’re on mute.” 

“We can’t hear you.” 

“Sorry, we’re having technical difficulties.” 

Audio problems are one of the most common reasons people get frustrated in a virtual setting and leave, so you must get this aspect of your event right.

For crystal clear audio, include a quality microphone on the checklist for remote presenters. Ask them to ensure that they have a quiet room with no pets or children demanding attention. A good P.A. system is a must at the live venue, and presenters who move around will need lavalier microphones.

As for your web-based system, make sure you’re using an advanced online platform that includes reliable audio technology. For example, consider a Webinar Event Management platform that provides high-end customer support.

To avoid lag when remote participants interact with live presenters, ensure your audio streaming does not automatically include a delay.

Visuals

You’ve become a master of curating content at your events, packing them with fascinating guests, images, slides, and videos. At a hybrid event, you need to boost the engagement of virtual attendees who need extra attention to detail. For example, try adjusting your camera angles to show the presenters’ faces and expressions more clearly for remote viewers.

If you plan to show a remote guest on screen interacting with an in-person presenter, position a screen at the presenter’s side. When not used for conversation, this screen can be turned on to display remote attendees, connecting the two audiences. The live presenter can then turn to the remote guest and interact in a traditional in-person conversation.

For video and slide presentations, do tests to check if all visual elements can be easily seen when viewed on a laptop. You’ll need a high-resolution video feed to ensure your content is clear and legible, especially if the text appears on slides. Recorded videos should be shot with high-definition cameras for a crisp look, and screens should be big enough for both in-person and remote attendees to see the content.

Lighting

At a hybrid event, you need to heighten the immersive experience for your virtual attendees. Good lighting is crucial to ensure remote viewers feel like they really are a part of it all. Your expensive cameras and screens will be wasted without proper lighting.

One way to help remote viewers have the best experience is to include shots of the live audience during the action to ensure that lighting covers both the stage and the audience. In addition, lighting may need to cover specific audience locations, for example, where mics are set up for Q&A sessions.

Ask remote presenters to ensure a clean background with no distractions behind them and request they purchase a video conference lighting kit. These affordable video kits can include a stand, a phone holder, and an LED ring light that clips onto their laptop to soft light their face.

When looking for the best lighting options at the venue, consider brightness, adjustability, and durability. It would be best to choose durable LED floodlights for longer distances or a softer ring light for closeups of the talent.

Enlist Support

Even if you’ve thought of everything, minor and sometimes major mishaps can happen during any event.

If you want extra insurance for a smooth program, ensure technical support is dedicated to troubleshooting at the event. Internet connections, network, visual, audio, and lighting need constant vigilance to prevent and fix any issues.

Hold a rehearsal with support and include a team of testers viewing remotely on laptops to report any concerns. Keep a list of mobile phone numbers for each of your support contacts to quickly troubleshoot any problem that may arise.

The big day is coming! With eShow’s web-based products and services, rest assured you’ll have customer support helping you master the technical challenges of your hybrid event.

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.