In the past few months the industry put 100% focus on how to handle a difficult scenario where people could not meet in person due to the pandemic. In that context, the Web provided a safe space to keep working and communicating globally.
We know the world and the event industry have yet to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic – but things have evolved. Governments in some countries are slowly allowing small-scale local events despite the burden of several limitations, including social distancing, protective measures and air travel bubbles.
The perspective of rebooting the event industry necessarily goes through re-imagining event experiences in the light of current restrictions. That’s why virtual options are now being perceived not just as an alternative or a nice-to-have extension of an in-person event, but as a key component of the event itself. Hence, paving the way to a more balanced mix of physical and virtual features.
That’s where our creativity as event professionals comes into play to use virtual options to solve problems and boost the business. Let’s take a look at 3 key areas where virtual solutions can power up a local in-person event with some cool features.
First of all, let’s clarify that “virtual” doesn’t necessarily mean “online”. Virtual can be defined as a software-generated non-tangible feature. When we look at opportunities in the virtual space, we are looking at software-enabled solutions able to spice up an event – potentially both onsite in a physical space or remotely through a connected device. Hence, the range of virtual solutions is pretty wide. Consider, for example, the opportunity to schedule a holographic concert to entertain your guests onsite or displaying animated data-driven artworks as an alternative art gallery experience.
Or have you considered replacing a team-building activity with a multiplayer Esports experience? That would help remote attendees join attendees onsite and play a key role in the same activity.
As travel restrictions are still in place and the possibility to move freely varies, in-person events are only happening in the form of local and contained experiences. In this case, the integration of virtual components, such as online sessions, can help rebuild that international vibe which would otherwise be impossible. Accepting international attendees online and inviting international speakers or guest artists to join an event are simple yet effective solutions, if properly executed.
Do you doubt that people would understand the difference between a YouTube video and a live session? 71% of online viewers consider a live session more authentic than a pre-recorded video. And you can leverage that perception to create an emotional link with some broadcast-quality tv-like webcast.
Interest is the fuel of interaction, and connectivity is the tool that makes conversation possible. Default virtual options like live chats and remote networking– through third-party platforms or self-hosted apps – provide a stable, familiar and sustainable interaction experience. Attendees joining in-person can easily connect with remote attendees and share ideas, feelings or discuss business. Sharing is a key component of every event.
Taking advantage of a hybrid context can also lead to more creative solutions. Think, for example, of hashtag-based photo technologies creating a bridge between remote social sharing and onsite printing options. Or fan activation programs to connect a guest artist with a set of attendees onsite or remotely. Virtual features can be extremely helpful to overcome current onsite restrictions and focus on goals.
Designing event experiences has simply become a more diversified process, where being ready to blend virtual and physical event components is the first step to a more agile and flexible goal-oriented mindset. Get in touch to find out how we can help you instill creativity in your local in-person events.
#Marco Sabbatini – Ovation Hong Kong DMC