At the beginning of 2020, virtual and hybrid events were a niche activity undertaken by a minority of companies. But with the arrival of the Coronavirus pandemic, they quickly became a lifeline for the events industry (and an essential for companies who want to stay connected during this challenging time). In fact, Conference News reported that a whopping 94% of UK businesses are planning to run an online event within the next 12 months!
If you’re new to online events, you might not yet have had a chance to build out a robust virtual and hybrid event strategy. To help you out, we’ve listed the key elements that should be on any event planner’s checklist below.
For our complete toolkit, make sure to download our virtual and hybrid event strategy planning tool.
1. Ensure staff and delegate safety
During this time, it’s essential to keep on top of the latest guidelines and legislation, putting the safety of your staff and delegates first. To inspire the highest level of confidence, try to go above and beyond guidelines rather than simply ticking boxes.
2. Protect your business interests
Stay active to make sure you’re not creating a void for your competitors to step into. This includes maintaining brand visibility and continuing to nurture key external relationships.
3. Maintain team engagement
Make sure to monitor your team’s engagement and take steps to increase it. It’s likely that you’ve lost engagement activities to social distancing, so be proactive in creating new engagement opportunities through both formal and informal channels.
4. Manage costs effectively
For most of us, money is tight right now. Try to structure your costs to be as flexible as possible and focus on the ROI of your events so that you can justify spending. Other businesses are likely to be more flexible during this difficult time, so make the most of that by negotiating with suppliers and using discounts.
5. Prepare for all eventualities
Make sure to stay agile! Instead of being paralysed by uncertainty, consider the most likely outcomes in terms of restrictions and regulations. Plan for those as a priority, but always build out contingency plans so that you’re not stumped if things change.
Hire Space also offers a Covid Cover Guarantee which enables you to switch to a different format free of charge up to 14 days prior to the event date, so you'll never be cut short by any surprises or changes.
It's also worth considering Hire Space 360 as a solution to help you when planning your events. On-demand eventprofs will help you plan for any eventuality, as well as offering unlimited access to event tech should your event need to be virtual or hybrid.
6. Plan for recovery
Don’t let online events consume you entirely! It’s important to stay up to date with who’s still trading and what new and innovative suppliers are arriving on the scene. That way, you can be prepared for the rebound of in-person events in the medium term.
Consider ways in which you can bridge the gap between fully virtual and in-person events with hybrid. Not everyone will be fully prepared to return to in-person events just because the government guidelines allow; being prepared for hybrid will mean you can continue to reap the benefits of virtual and in-person in an uncertain environment.
Hire Space Top Tip: Use a dedicated hybrid events platform to provide an outstanding virtual experience for those not able/comfortable to travel. Arena by Hire Space is a flexible, affordable and infinitely scaleable option that will allow you to effortlessly integrate your physical and virtual attendees.
7. Be company thought leaders
Embrace your role as an event specialist and take the reins, briefing in your senior leadership team on your proposed event strategy. It’s also important to communicate your event strategy beyond the event team so that you cement your position as a vital company thought leader.
Download The Full Virtual & Hybrid Event Strategy Planning Tool
We know it’s difficult to plan right now, but the worst thing you can do is nothing. So, just follow our checklist to make sure that you’re ploughing ahead (sensibly!) during these difficult times.
Download the virtual and hybrid event strategy planning tool to access the full toolkit, and make sure to book a free consultation below to talk through applying the framework to your next virtual event.