Thanks to Investis Digital for this guest blog on returning to in-person events for Festival Month at TechSPARK.

Returning to in-person events after almost two years of doing everything virtual will be a big transition for most companies so having a trusted partner to take the pressure off will be critical for your upcoming events’ success.

While virtual events were able to keep the content flowing there is nothing that can replace the benefits of meeting in person. According to an April survey of meeting planners, 60% of planners expect to be live in the back half of 2021. As companies look to plan for their next events, whether virtual, hybrid or fully in-person, there are a few tips to ensure success.

1. Communication is Key

One of the most critical aspects of running a successful event is your communications strategy.

Prior to your attendees even registering for the event they should be presented with your COVID protocol for attending the event. Whether you chose to require proof of a negative test, proof of vaccination or nothing at all – this should be communicated and consistent across all channels.

Along with the pre-screening requirements, your overall safety plan should also be included in your emails, social posts, registration page etc… This ensures that potential attendees will be hit at every touchpoint with a clear and consistent safety plan.

Leading up to the event, it is important to continue to monitor any changing COVID state or federal regulations and send out regular emails to registered attendees/event staff to update any changes. These emails will help ease the mind of the attendees to know you are staying on top of CDC guidelines.

2. Consider the Format

With so many options out there now for how to host an event, it can be increasingly difficult to know what will be best for you. Virtual events took off in 2020 and while there may be some “webinar fatigue”, virtual/hybrid events are here to stay.

According to an April survey done by NorthStar Meetings Group, the data showed a 10% increase in those planning hybrid events from January 2021 to April 2021, from 21% to 31%.

One of the challenges going forward is going to be enticing those remote workers to come out to an in-person event which is why the hybrid model is a popular choice.

Hybrid Model

There are many upsides to a hybrid event: larger reach to your audience, a backup plan for speakers who have a last-minute change in plan and cannot attend in person and giving those who do not feel comfortable attending in person an option to be included.

When it comes to planning a hybrid event, it is vital to choose a virtual hosting platform that is going to meet your needs. In a recent blog post, we broke down the top virtual events resources to help you make a more informed decision, you can also check out our Investis Digital Live Guide: Webinar, Webcasting and Virtual Events to get started on planning your upcoming event.

Completely Virtual

Even though we are seeing a large trend of hybrid events happening, a completely virtual event has its own benefits. Staying virtual allows you to partner with a virtual hosting platform and relieve a substantial portion of planning stress.

At Investis Digital, we have hosted thousands of webcasts & virtual events for our clients and know what it takes to run a smooth event focused on our clients’ key objectives.

Staying virtual also minimizes the cost of the event when compared to a hybrid event, factoring in renting a space and other overhead expenses. If you make the decision to remain virtual, our “How To Host a Virtual Event” blog post is a great resource.

3. Have a Back Up Plan

With changes happening often in the country regarding COVID rules and regulations, having a backup plan can make or break your event.

Going hybrid opens the possibility of having the in-person portion be canceled or rescheduled. Your “plan b” may end up being your “plan A”, so what should it look like? Your speakers need to be trained and prepared to make the switch to virtual.

Having a virtual events partner means having the resources to train your speakers with the platform and hosting prep calls to ensure they feel comfortable with the technology.

Making the decision to move to virtual could happen just weeks before, leaving your team scrambling to get all the content uploaded while also trying to create a great user experience verses a standard zoom call. This Is where having a trusted provider can become critical, their teams will be able to help develop this experience to be custom to your brand and deliver a unique event.

4. Build Trust Through Running a Fantastic Event

Brand trust is at the core of curating a successful business. According to a recent Gartner survey, 95 percent of CMOs believe brands should take the lead in finding solutions to major societal and cultural issues.

At Investis Digital, we’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how companies can build trust in this new era of collaboration and purpose-driven capitalism. The four main pillars in building trust boil down to; Reputation, Recruitment, Reach, and Responsibility. How does running an event impact each of these pillars?

Reputation: Running your first in-person event is going to have an impact on your consumers  perception and you want to leave them feeling confident to attend future events. A lack of  COVID protocol, communication, or overall attendee safety leaves room for criticism online and  can negatively impact your brands reputation.

Recruitment: As we know, the pandemic has shifted the mindset of the workforce. Employees are leaving their current roles to find ones at companies they trust. Your event is a showcase for those future employees you may try to recruit down the line.

Reach: You will need to get Infront of your audience to promote the event and you do that by having a strong performance marketing strategy. Making sure the event site is optimized for search and showing up when your consumers are looking for events in your industry/space.

Responsibility: As an event holder, is it your responsibility to ensure your attendees feel safe  throughout the duration of the event. This can mean hand sanitizer stations, requiring masks,  social distancing signs, or giving your attendees the ability to report suspicious activity in real  time. Setting up a strong safety plan will leave everyone involved in the event feeling at ease.

5. Post Event Follow Up

Let’s say your event goes off without a hitch. You implemented great communications tactics, you found a reliable partner to support on the virtual aspect of your event, the attendees felt safe at the in-person event… now what?

Your relationship with attendees does not end here – now that they have watched your content and interacted with your brand it is time to nurture.

Sending out a survey the days following the event is a great way to gage how the attendees liked the event and give you the data to make adjustments for future events. To keep engagement up, continue to send out relevant content and nurture your contacts down the customer journey.

Moving forward, the future of events is exciting. We are going to see a variety of types of events, most likely a hybrid experience which gives you the opportunity to get creative. As long as you take these 5 tips into account, you’re setting yourself up for success.

Do you need a trusted virtual events partner? You can get a free demo to our virtual events platform to see how we can help you host your next hybrid/virtual event.