So your company is customer-centric? Then your upcoming event better be hybrid

There is still time to salvage fall events with effective hybrid options - but time is running short. Event planners who don't make changes are putting attendees in a tough spot, especially those with health concerns. We need a better approach.

put off return-to-office plans, long term health impacts are unclear, breakthrough infection story, current event guidelines, regulate events of 1,000 or more, re-imposed indoor mask requirements, Las Vegas Raiders have opted in, better data to show for , Paul Richards, PTZOptics, Stefanie Maragna, Sage Transform, Sage writes, health and safety protocols page

Enterprise event planners are in a serious bind. How they respond will fundamentally impact event success – and industry reputation. If safety is a question mark, employers can easily put off return-to-office plans – and many are.

For events, it’s not that simple. On-the-ground events are high stakes; escaping venue contracts can be financially punishing.

Not long ago, I got a disappointing call from an analyst: he feels bullied by event planners into attending their on-the-ground events. Yes, the same event planners that proclaim a “customer-first” mentality.

The real shame of it all? A true hybrid event model, with the flexibility to choose on-the-ground or online, would have alleviated this. It would have reduced the pressure on individuals to make tough – and personal – event choices.

I’ve also heard from several colleagues who went on the road, and came back with so-called “breakthrough” COVID infections. These infections are no joke, and the long term health impacts are unclear. Kudos to John Appleby, CEO of Avantra, for being so open about his breakthrough infection story – and why he has no regrets about getting vaccinated. Appleby’s not the only one to tell this type of story to me off the record. To be fair, I also have colleagues who are traveling extensively and plan to continue.

Bottom line: risk tolerance should now be up to the individual, and event safety is still a moving target. The main culprit: the highly contagious nature of the Delta variant, which has changed both the perception of safety, and the difficulties of ensuring it.

Hybrid events – a better response to Delta variant concerns

Given that personal health decisions and, in some cases, livelihoods, are at stake, my urgent message to event planners is not, as you might expect, to cancel their on-the-ground events. I believe there are plenty of attendees who are ready for on-the-ground, as long as their safety expectations are met. My message is as follows:

1. Unless your event safety plan includes a combination of indoor masking, on-site testing and/or proof of vaccination, your “safety guidelines” are probably not strong enough. Handing out color-coded badges to indicate degrees of personal distance an attendee expects is cute and worthwhile, but hardly enough. The CDC’s current event guidelines allow for nuance based on indoor/outdoor, regional COVID conditions, and number of attendees. California is the first state in the US to regulate events of 1,000 or more to require either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. Meanwhile, enterprise event favorite Las Vegas is in the midst of a major COVID outbreak and has re-imposed indoor mask requirements inside its venues. An opt-out option for larger venues that require vaccination is now in place; the Las Vegas Raiders have opted in. You can see where this is trending – far away from color coded comfort zone badges.

2. Providing attendees a true choice between online and on-the-ground is not going to cannibalize your event. Plenty of folks are ready to get on planes and see each other. Those who aren’t coming – well, they aren’t coming. No matter what kind of online options you provide. A true hybrid event gives you a much better shot at the active participation of remote participants. And it gives you the ability to take a true customer-first stance, and not pressure people into attending (I’ll provide an example shortly).

3. Once more with feeling: streaming a keynote or two is not a hybrid event.

4. If you have a fall event pending on-the-ground, there is still time to add compelling hybrid options. No, you probably don’t have time to transform into a full hybrid event. But you do have time to add needed features (I’ll get to a few tips on that shortly).

5. Hybrid events are the future, not a stopgap.

6. Creative event planning requires significant changes in how events are designed – and the skills needed to deliver them. These changes are overdue anyhow – enterprise events were mostly stale affairs with bloated keynotes, redeemed by friendships and serendipitous hallway encounters. Those who excel at hybrid will have differentiated events – and better data to show for it.

Moving to hybrid events – a quick tips brainstorm

Back in January, I launched my hybrid event stump speech with What would a hybrid event look like? Answer: you’ll need much more than a streaming keynote:

As I wrote in my virtual events year in review, we did get better events as the year went on. But I’m not sure the urgency is there yet.

Alas, the urgency still isn’t there. For those event planners scrambling on their fall events, adding hybrid features is still doable. Granted, you probably can’t pull off a full-on hybrid event in that timeframe, but some changes are likely doable – especially when you consider that there is probably some type of online plan in place, at least for keynotes. I won’t duplicate all the tips from my prior article, but here’s some doable ones to consider:

  • Pick one or two rooms where all the sessions will be streamed live onto an interactive platform of some kind (even Zoom could work).
  • Bring in live event facilitators and topical experts to participate in those live streamed sessions, and connect with online attendees on follow-ups.
  • Planning to release a few recorded sessions? When you “debut” them online, have an online discussion during or immediately after the recorded session with the presenter. I saw this done very effectively recently via streaming sessions on YouTube and a private Discord channel to interact with the speaker.
  • Want to get special? After your keynote airs, put your CEO or executive team in a semi-private discussion with online attendees or VIPs (Yes, you can open that up to those on the ground also).
  • Experiment with an online connections option such as Gatherly, which I have helped to run before, to allow online birds of a feather meetups.
  • Hold online “keynote parties” where those who share an affiliation (like industry affiliation or job role) can watch the online keynotes together. LinkedIn Live has been used to great effect for this by the CRM Playaz and many others, and it’s not the only option.

This is hardly a comprehensive list – consider it a brainstorming spark. As I compiled it, I realized once again how much untapped potential there is.

Now, I can hear the objection: “Those ideas are fine, but they won’t scale for my event.” Yes, scaling hybrid features takes time, which some event planners don’t have. But here’s the useful caveat: not everyone wants the hybrid experience. Even some online folks are happy just catching the keynotes. So, you can ease the scale problem – and move towards a hybrid business model – by charging for a premium online experience with VIP access. For a terrific example of how I’ve seen this done, check Can we find a business model for virtual events? Presence Summit provided some big clues – starting with exceptional interactivity.

The maestro behind that event, Paul Richards, is the Chief Streaming Officer at PTZOptics. That job title is no surprise; Richards was HD streaming from the PTZOptics studio throughout the Present Summit. Richards is also the author of The Virtual Ticket: How to Host Private Live Streams & Virtual Events. Richards was urging us to make virtual events great before the pandemic forced the issue. I always hear grumbling about how crummy virtual events are. Have you seen this type of feedback on virtual events before?

put off return-to-office plans, long term health impacts are unclear, breakthrough infection story, current event guidelines, regulate events of 1,000 or more, re-imposed indoor mask requirements, Las Vegas Raiders have opted in, better data to show for , Paul Richards, PTZOptics, Stefanie Maragna, Sage Transform, Sage writes, health and safety protocols page
(via #PresenceSummit hashtag)

Clearly, virtual possibilities are untapped. As we slog through the uncertainties of the Vaccine Economy, we better start tapping.

Getting the right event marketing tone – the Sage Transform example

Recently, I was venting on event planners applying the “please come to Vegas!” pressure. The victim of my venting? Stefanie Maragna, VP of Corporate Marketing & Events, Sage Intacct. Maragna took the plunge: she read me the verbiage for the upcoming Sage Transform user conference while we were on the call. But as it turns out, I liked Sage Intacct’s verbiage. Displayed prominently on the top menu is the “virtual experience.” Click on that, and Sage writes:

There’s nothing better than attending Sage Transform in person, but for those not able to join, we’re excited bring you Transform 2021 in a virtual setting.

I have no problem with that – sure, make the on-the-ground pitch. No hand-wringing about safety issues is needed here, but: if you can’t join in person, no problem. Sage continues:

The Sage Transform Virtual Experience will take place online on November 10-11. Virtual attendees will enjoy a mix of live-streamed sessions, access to our on-demand only sessions, and recordings of other sessions delivered during Transform 2021 Las Vegas after the event.

That sounds far better than the typical virtual event for starters. Could Sage go further, and add online networking, and perhaps VIP access to some speakers or Q/A sessions? Sure, but it’s a strong start toward putting the virtual right alongside the in-person.

For the in-person event, there is a well-conceived health and safety protocols page. For that, Sage Intacct piggy backs on the guidelines of the CDC and Las Vegas re: indoor mask-wearing, before outlining its own requirements, which include either proof-of-vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours prior. This is absolutely the right thing to do. Unfortunately, a number of enterprise events are not yet taking this step. If they don’t take that step, then talking about “event safety” seems problematic at best.

My take – now is the time to get hybrid events right

Having already attended an in-person event in Las Vegas, I object to the idea that any event can be billed as “safe.” For starters, how you can make that claim when your attendees are stuffed into packed planes with passengers who have their masks off a good chunk of the flight, snacking and drinking.

Ensuring home-to-venue safety is something no vendor can claim right now, no matter what steps they are taking within the venue. But the fact is: many vaccinated individuals in good health feel comfortable with those risks right now. As for those who don’t, well, their concerns are also well-founded. If you choose not to take those risks, for whatever reason, you should not be made to feel excluded – or subjected to ill-conceived pressure by event organizers. Nor should virtual attendees miss out on a chance to connect with others who can make a difference to their networks and projects. I’ve heard from plenty of these people; many aren’t ready to go on the record. That should tell us something.

The one thing that allows such flexibility right now? The truly hybrid event. Hybrid is also the best fallback against a quick change of plans or venue cancellation, should circumstances change.

It’s time to stop pretending/wishing that we’re beyond the pandemic and back to event normal. Events as we know it are changing. With imagination and grit, we can extract plenty of positives from this.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

The new Instagram features you will soon be using

© Courtesy of Instagram Instagram is launching new features. Instagram is giving its users some new goodies to play with. The social network has just unveiled five new tools that ... Read more »

Rate of coal and gas power decline NEVER been achieved before

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo Keeping global temperatures from rising by more than 2.7°F (1.5°C) will require a cut in coal and gas power production, at a level ... Read more »

Hospitalized Covid patients 3x as likely to suffer cognitive issue

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo Hospitalized COVID-19 patients are more likely to suffer from cognitive issues months after recovery than patients who didn’t require medical care, a new ... Read more »

Only a fraction of operators have reached '5G' tipping point

Just 14% of 5G operators around the world have been able to encourage 10% or more of their customers to subscribe to their next generation network service. © Provided by ... Read more »

The best wireless headphones 2021: our pick of the best ways to cut the cord

The best wireless headphones of 2021 include some of the most advanced audio devices we’ve ever seen. The best part? These wireless headphones come in all shapes and sizes, from ... Read more »

Malware can easily abuse Discord features to attack users

© Provided by TechRadar Malware Cybersecurity experts have successfully demonstrated that the features of gaming-centric messaging platform Discord can easily be abused for malicious purposes. Researchers from Check Point Research ... Read more »

New US rules on spyware exports try to limit surveillance tech like Pegasus

The US Department of Commerce announced a new rule to prevent the sale of hacking tools to China and Russia, The Washington Post reports. The Commerce Department outlined the change ... Read more »

How to customize your iPhone's app icons

Have you ever wanted to make your iPhone your own, with your individualized style and flair? Sure, you can change your home screen wallpaper. But if you really want to ... Read more »

Vergecast: Apple and Google's competing events this week

Every Friday, The Verge publishes our flagship podcast, The Vergecast, where co-hosts Nilay Patel and Dieter Bohn discuss the week in tech news with the reporters and editors covering the ... Read more »

Tokyo 2020 Olympics suffered half a billion attempted cyberattacks

Whilst the Olympic Games were taking place in Tokyo earlier this year, another, huge competition was also taking place behind the curtain – between the organization’s 200-people strong cybersecurity team, ... Read more »

The 47 best gifts for couples that they'll both enjoy

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. Trying to pick out the perfect gift for your couple friends ... Read more »

A retail listing shows the specs of the Intel Core i9-12900K Alder Lake CPU

© Windows Central Intel Core i9-11900K review The specs of the upcoming Intel Core i9-12900K have appeared on a retail listing. What you need to know A retail listing reveals ... Read more »

Here's when you can start playing Age of Empires 4

© Provided by Windows Central Here’s when you can choose your civilization and begin gathering resources. At long last, Age of Empires 4 is on the way, soon to be ... Read more »

Not just Wix: Another Israeli Technology Enables No Coding Engagement Products

© Storycards Gil Rabbi, Co-Founder at Storycards Following the huge success of Wix in no-coding web design, another Israeli company, Storycards, led by engagement guru Gil Rabbi will bring no-coding ... Read more »

Human brain DECREASED in size 3,000 years ago, study finds

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo The size of the human brain has changed numerous times throughout human history, but the vital organ decreased approximately 3,000 years ago due ... Read more »

Rocket failure mars US hypersonic missile test

The Pentagon’s hypersonic weapon programs suffered a setback on Thursday when a booster rocket carrying a hypersonic weapon failed, people briefed on the test result said. © Andrey Rudakov /Bloomberg ... Read more »

The Navy released a scathing report about the fire on the USS Bonhomme Richard

This story originally published on Task & Purpose.​ © Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christina Ross/U.S. Navy The Navy sailor who set the 2020 fire on the USS Bonhomme Richard ... Read more »

Get more done with 20% off HP's EliteOne 800 G6 all-in-one and other PCs

If you’re looking for a computer upgrade at work, HP has a few devices on sale right now that will definitely upgrade your office space. With the code HPEXCLUSIVETWENTYOFF, you ... Read more »

Twitter's algorithm favours right-leaning politics

© Getty Images Twitter amplifies tweets from right-leaning political parties and news outlets more than from the left, its own research suggests. The social-media giant said it made the discovery ... Read more »

Samsung's unique Frame TV is $500 off

Samsung’s The Frame doubles as both wall art and an HDR-compatible QLED TV. The television offers a decor-friendly design while also displaying customizable images when somebody’s in the room. When ... Read more »

Best Destiny 2 Exotic weapons and armor in 2021

© Provided by Windows Central These are the most powerful and efficient Exotics in the Destiny 2 sandbox. Exotics are the most powerful and unique items you can obtain in ... Read more »

Lukaku and Werner will miss Chelsea's next two games AT LEAST

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo Chelsea have been dealt a double injury blow ahead of this weekend’s clash with Norwich City, after Thomas Tuchel confirmed that they will ... Read more »

10 must-have plus-size clothes to buy from Old Navy

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. I have no qualms admitting it: I love Old Navy. More ... Read more »

UK households offered £5,000 grants to replace boilers with heat pumps

The government recently announced that it will provide £450 million in funding to encourage households in England and Wales to install electric heat pumps. Over the next three years, it’s ... Read more »

New Microsoft 365 service identifies privacy risk before it's too late

Microsoft has announced new controls for Microsoft 365 that will help customers manage privacy of their users in accordance with the local laws. © Provided by TechRadar A representational image ... Read more »

Xbox series X stock - live: AO restock sells out – here's who could drop next

LIVE – Updated at 14:00 © iStock/The Independent Xbox liveblog hero Update: Argos has restocked the Xbox series X for collection in specific stores. Enter your postcode to check your ... Read more »

NASA's Deep Space Food Challenge awards $450,000 to first-round winners

© Provided by Space NASA and the Canadian Space Agency have teamed up for the Deep Space Food Challenge, which aims to spur new ideas about how to feed astronauts ... Read more »

China, space junk and more: Senators voice spaceflight concerns

© Provided by Space Cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky shared this photo of the International Space Station on Twitter on Sept. 29, 2021. He and two colleagues were relocating a Russian Soyuz ... Read more »

Challenge for astronomy: Megaconstellations becoming the new light pollution

© Provided by Space An astronomical image marred by trails caused by satellites of SpaceX’s Starlink megaconstellation. Satellite megaconstellations are quickly becoming a serious problem to 21st century astronomy akin ... Read more »

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope will face '29 days on the edge' after launch (video)

© Provided by Space Artist’s illustration of the James Webb Space Telescope with its massive sunshield fully deployed. NASA’s newest space telescope will face 29 “harrowing” days after launch as ... Read more »

10 incredibly stylish clogs to wear this fall

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. Walk down the shoe aisle of a department store, open up ... Read more »

Sony's WH-1000XM4 headphones fall to $248, plus the rest of the week's best tech deals

This week brought our first official early Black Friday sale, courtesy of Best Buy. While we expect to see even more of these events before we hit Black Friday proper, ... Read more »

Best smart home devices 2021: automate your home with these gadgets

The best smart home device will ensure your property offers the perfect environment without you having to lift a finger. Whether you want the light dimmed to a certain level, ... Read more »

Trump's social network was defaced before it even launched

It took only a few hours for pranksters to find and deface a test version of former President Trump’s yet-to-launch social media platform called TRUTH Social. According to The Washington ... Read more »

The Verge Merch Store is back!

The Verge is celebrating its 10th birthday on November 1st, so we thought this would be the perfect occasion to relaunch our online merch store! Check out the store here. ... Read more »

Engadget Podcast: Apple's new MacBook Pros, the Pixel 6 and the Surface Duo 2

Techtober continues with a deep dive into Apple’s latest MacBook Pros, powered by the new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. Cherlynn and Devindra also chat about what’s new with ... Read more »

Micro Center leaks specs and pricing for Intel's new Alder Lake Core i9 CPU

© Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge Even though someone managed to secure early purchases of a couple of Core i9-12900K CPUs, we still didn’t have detailed information about ... Read more »

Someone got their hands on the unannounced Intel Core i9-12900K CPU

The Intel Core i9-12900K hasn’t even been announced, but someone got their hands on a pair of them. © Provided by Windows Central What you need to know A Reddit ... Read more »

Everything you need to know about the new Surface Duo 2

© Windows Central Surface Duo 2 Hero Got questions? We’ve got answers! Microsoft’s Surface Duo 2 is now officially available. Just like last year, we’ve compiled a mega list of ... Read more »

Haunted Chocolatier looks like the perfect follow-up to Stardew Valley

The creator of Stardew Valley has announced the title of his next game: Haunted Chocolatier.  © Provided by TechRadar Haunted Chocolatier logo on a starry backbround In Haunted Chocolatier, you’ll ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic