After one year of hosting online events amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies are working on their plans for how to get back into in-person gathering. Some individuals are more comfortable than others and regions have varying guidelines in place. Ensuring a safe transition back is number one priority.
There are lots of unknowns about the vaccine rollout and it’s difficult to navigate people’s varying comfort levels. According to our findings in the Innovatis Group 2021 Outlook Report, just over half (51%) of respondents felt that the size of an event would impact their decision to attend, even if appropriate safety precautions were taken. Thus, we needed to devise a solution for how to host smaller in-person events but still be conscious of our clients’ needs as a community.
How do you balance safety versus accessibility when planning a smaller event? That’s where the hybrid event model comes in, and Innovatis Group approached event planning in an innovative way. We prioritized attendee comfort levels, unique member experiences, and value prop for our partners.
Innovatis Group has been taking a proactive approach to the hybrid model as we plan to get back in person swiftly but safely. In 2020, our team researched more than a dozen platforms, including watching demos, attending other events on the platforms, and talking with company reps. In 2021, we have been fine-tuning strategies, securing venues, and getting into the nitty-gritty of planning experiences. Here are some things to consider as you turn the idea of a hybrid event into a reality:
Attendee comfort and confidence
The hybrid event model allows for engaging and exciting gatherings, while bridging the gap between safety and accessibility when it comes to attendance numbers. For each the in-person and online elements, we considered:
In-Person event safety protocols:
- CDC guidelines, room at the venue for distancing, maximum number of attendees, hand sanitizing stations
- Communicate expectations in pre-event marketing such as emails to attendees and specific details on website pages
- Must provide an intuitive and engaging platform for those not comfortable to attend in-person
Unique member experience
The priority is the best overall experience for our attendees including look and feel, easy navigation, and engagement tools for attendees and sponsors. When planning, we tested platforms and mapped out each experience for attendees – both in person and virtual. Each component must be unique and have their own opportunities for engagement including networking, chats, and gamification.
Value to partners
When selecting a platform, it was extremely important to consider sponsor opportunities. How do we ensure partners get the most out of the event? How do we create unique experiences for them to connect with attendees both in-person and online? We searched for platforms that provided robust analytics, fair pricing, an event build that included training and support, and integration with other technologies, applications, and production. Artificial intelligence and matchmaking are great tools to have and becoming essential for many events.
See a Hybrid Event in Action!
On March 17, 2021, the Innovatis Group team hosted its first hybrid event. The platform and venue we selected allowed our staff to be safely socially distanced on-site, while members from around the world logged on to participate. Here’s an inside look…
When securing a venue, we ensured in-person staff would be able to follow CDC guidelines and distance safely.
The online element was interactive, engaging, and prioritized virtual networking. Online attendees were able to customize their profiles, agendas, and stay connected via chat rooms. All sessions were streamed live from on-site, giving the online attendees direct access to content.
Whether speakers were on-site or virtual, we accommodated all presenters’ needs in order to provide the best of the best content. What matters most is that attendees – both in-person and online – feel as though they can enjoy an interactive experience.
Following COVID-19, there’s no one way to get back to in-person gathering. Thanks to the cautiousness, flexibility, and creativity of our team, Innovatis Group looks forward to hosting one-of-a-kind in-person events again in 2021.