Hybrid events are becoming a new key strategy to success in the trade show world. Executing them well takes additional planning on top of your traditional trade show event, but that extra effort will definitely make an impact!
Trade shows aren’t going anywhere, but we may see a few changes in attendance moving forward.
Since face-to-face interactions are far too important and valuable, we know that virtual events will never truly replace trade shows. As we’ve seen an online shift in the presence of large trade show events, we’re confident in their return for many reasons. One primary reason is that buyers use trade shows as an opportunity to grasp a product for themselves rather than seeing it behind a screen. Human interaction is another large draw for attendees to be able to engage with the people within a company, create a connection, and ensure a good fit before committing to a large purchase decision.
While we know that trade shows will return, we’re also aware that not all attendees will be ready to attend in person when that day comes. Which is why it’s important to have the alternative option of attending online with a hybrid event.
Here is a list of content elements and tips you’ll need at your hybrid event (and no, it’s not as simple as a virtual streaming provider to overlook your event).
Yes, you will need a great virtual streaming provider, but on top of that, you’ll want most of the same elements and features as your onsite event. The content you share virtually should replicate the content you share at your in-person event. It goes without saying that your digital content will need to be just as engaging. When it comes to delivering the same content in different ways to both audiences, here are a few tips:
- Assign at least one onsite employee to be dedicated to your virtual attendees’ experience.
While the in-person trade show attendees will have speakers and trade show staff addressing them, they likely won’t be thinking to address the people watching from behind their laptops. To keep virtual attendees feeling like they’re part of the action, having at least one of your event staff address them throughout the day will make them feel included. This person can introduce speakers to the online audience as well as introduce the virtual sessions and networking sessions that come throughout the day. Make sure this person is reminding the virtual audience of the daily agenda and staying upbeat to keep this audience engaged and excited.
- Don’t expect virtual attendees to sit and watch live networking sessions. Give them their own!
Your online audience should be given the option of watching any live keynote speakers, larger sessions and presentations, but when it comes time to interact with others in the booth and build community, make sure that your virtual attendees aren’t left staring at a group of people chatting. Give them the same opportunity!There are quite a few virtual streaming providers that let virtual attendees connect in small groups within digital “meeting rooms”. Some other great elements you can include are digital, one-on-one sessions between your attendees and industry experts, or offering panel discussions that allow attendees to engage with the speakers and other online attendees all at once.
- Make sure your online audience can access your content at a later time.
When trade show attendees are at an event in-person, there is a lot to do; people to meet, products to see, sessions to attend – so it is easy for an in-person attendee to stay focused on the event at hand. Alternatively, you must remember that your online attendees are sitting somewhere, watching and engaging through a screen. With that being said, they are more likely to be multitasking or continuing to work while attending and may need to take more breaks throughout the day or step away at times to attend to other business.Be sure that when your digital attendees are unable to be online, your content is offered on-demand. You can record keynote speakers and sessions and upload videos later in the day or even the next day when it’s a more convenient time for them. If this isn’t possible, your delegated virtual experience staff member can upload a condensed summary.
- Find a good balance in the length of sessions.
This ties in with number three and making sure that your sessions aren’t too lengthy to the point where it would be difficult to focus. You’ll also want to make sure that you’re providing concise information that’s beneficial and engaging. This one applies to both in person and digital attendees.Also, while attendees who travel to a trade show will expect to get their time and money’s worth in the few days that they’re there, virtual attendees might appreciate a more spread out span of sessions they can access at their leisure. You could offer fewer live sessions per day and then additional recorded sessions that you didn’t show live as an on-demand option once the show has commenced.
- Find ways to connect your virtual and onsite audiences.
One way that you can let your audiences engage with each other is by creating live polls. Answering polling topics and seeing each other’s responses is a great way to get your separate audiences interacting and engaged with your company and with each other. Another option is live Q&A. Submitting questions that others may or may not have been thinking about can open up the minds of both audiences to new thoughts as well as new knowledge with the feedback that’s provided.
Keep these content tips in mind when planning for your upcoming hybrid trade show! There are plenty of things to think about when planning for a hybrid event, let alone just an in-person portion of a trade show by itself. To take some of the planning and logistical stresses off of your plate, Skyline Exhibits can manage as much or as little as you need, creating a balance that makes sense for your company.