One of the top reasons people attend conferences is to meet other people. According to an industry study conducted pre-pandemic, networking was a major driver in the decision to attend for more than 75 percent of individuals. We all know the in-person component has been removed from many events the past year. Yet as vaccination rates increase and onsite conferences resume, networking opportunities will continue to be a dominating decision factor for attendees to attend events.
Looking to the future, 60-70 percent of companies say they’ve added or will add hybrid events to their portfolio. Given the overwhelming success of virtual events, it makes sense that many will continue a virtual component after they resume live events — therefore going hybrid. The question becomes, however, with some attendees together in person and some joining from afar through a screen, how can you foster the same sense of connection and community that satisfies people’s need for human interaction and relationships?
The answer is to create strong, ongoing communities around your event that will endure long beyond the last session ends. Building out year-round communities for attendees to engage before and after an event was starting to pick up steam pre-pandemic — and it makes even more sense now amidst our new normal of hybrid events.
Connecting your on-site and virtual audience with technology will create a unified event experience, tying them together and providing ways to continue the conversation beyond the actual event — and ultimately, leading to better audience satisfaction and retention. At MeetingPlay, we are seeing three major technologies making these types of attendee-driven communities possible.
Attendee-Driven Communities Fostered by Technology
Think of on-site ambassadors as the bridge between on-site attendees and virtual attendees. You can select a few highly engaged (and ideally, highly personable) individuals who are attending in person to broadcast their own live experience from their mobile devices for virtual attendees to watch from their homes. Not only does this give virtual attendees the chance to experience the live version through a peer’s eyes, but it may also stir up a little FOMO (fear of missing out) in an effort to start encouraging attendees to (safely) come back to live events.
Discover more about the benefits of ambassadors by reading this conversation with MeetingPlay CEO Joe Schwinger and BizBash Founder and Chairman Dave Adler.
We’ve all been to events we didn’t want to end — maybe you met a new group of colleagues at the final night’s dinner and want to continue the conversation, or, maybe you heard from an incredible closing speaker and wish you could have the opportunity to chat with them personally and ask more questions. Thanks to technology, this is all possible through virtual afterparties, where virtual participants can tune in to live streams from presenters and feel like they are part of the live audience with the ability to interact and ask questions.
Learn how MeetingPlay created a virtual afterparty with a live DJ at a virtual user conference in this case study.
This obviously isn’t a new technology, but social media in events becomes of utmost importance when events are following a hybrid format, as it enables both virtual and on-site attendees to interact and share experiences in the same way. You can make sharing their experience with others, along with the broader social community, easy and fun through incorporating tools such as social walls, a photo booth and social integrations into your hybrid event. Social integrations are especially helpful in a virtual event platform as they enable connection of all the major social platforms for a seamless experience. Don’t forget to share hashtags with your attendees to help bring forward a following for your event. You may even want to create branded graphics to go along with various sessions and other components of your event that makes it even simpler for attendees to share about their experience on social media.
Read more about how social media tools can help drive audience participation in our Ultimate Guide to Virtual Event Engagement.
No matter what industry you’re in, there’s no denying that hybrid events are the way of the future, and it will be critical to find ways to bridge the gap between your virtual and in-person attendees. By incorporating these three technologies into your virtual event platform and strategy, you can develop attendee-driven communities that help you create FOMO for your live events and work toward drawing a larger in-person audience next time.
Event technology will continue to emerge and bloom from this changing event landscape, and we want to help you at every step along the way. Contact us for a demo to learn how MeetingPlay can help you to navigate new event technologies and use them to build out impactful attendee-driven communities in your next event.