Event Planning and Marketing
Planning for Hybrid Events: Takeaways from RainFocus’ Product Working Group
31 Mar 2021 | Heather Pryor | 4 minutes
Yesterday we were thrilled to host a product working group discussion with event professionals from leading enterprise organizations. In the meeting, we discussed our strategy for hybrid events, including how the RainFocus Platform enables a safe return to physical events, how to optimize the attendee experience both online and in person, exhibitor activation, measurement, and more.
RainFocus’ Product Offering for Safe Return to Physical Venues
At the beginning of the product working group meeting, our product marketing team gave an extensive overview of RainFocus’ hybrid product offering. The following is a brief summary of the products presented:
Segmented Registration: The RainFocus Platform ensures attendees get the right experience from the very beginning, whether they are attending in-person or online. Registration includes SSO to enable maximum security.
Touchless and Socially-Distanced Check-In: Using a mobile app, attendees can use a QR code to check-in with their own mobile device. Admins can also check attendees in remotely as desired.
Session Planning: With RainFocus’ Content Module, event teams can easily manage room capacity and traffic allowed in sessions.
Cleaning Schedule: Likewise, teams can plan, track, and audit cleaning schedules to ensure that cleaning personnel has the right amount of time to clean for maximum safety.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): Exhibitors can bring their own device to scan leads with. Device agreements can be managed online in the Exhibitor Portal.
A Blended Approach to the Hybrid Attendee Experience
To gain insight into the current planning landscape working group members were presented with three different approaches to hybrid events: uniform, targeted and blended.
Uniform: All attendees (virtual and physical) are given access to the same content at the same time.
Targeted: Access to content is granted based on the attendee being either virtual or physical
Blended: A combination approach to event access based on factors such as physical vs. virtual, etc.
75% of working group members envisioned their event taking a blended approach. The general consensus is that virtual will forever be a subset of physical events. As such, event teams are beginning to consider how they can leverage insights from either their physical events or their virtual events to better the accompanying experience. For example, you might consider which of your physical sessions are most popular and then convert those into virtual sessions.
Creating Attendee Value at Hybrid Events
Working group members agreed that both the virtual and physical aspects of events should bear equal value to the attendees. The group discussed how attendees could possibly change their method of attendance at any given time with a hybrid structure. Group participants agreed the ideal hybrid experience would be one that enables all attendees to access the same content at the same time and connect with each other regardless of where they are attending.
A shared concern about the hybrid experience was how event teams could create the same value for virtual attendees as those who are attending in-person. The group discussed the unmatched networking value of meeting someone in the hall or sitting next to someone in a session. One possible solution that was brought to the table was mobile engagement. One participant explained, “the mobile app is less about solving a problem and more about creating an opportunity.” Mobile apps provide virtual attendees with a second screen to interact with others while sessions are in progress. Likewise, mobile apps give physical attendees a way to engage with virtual content.
Pricing for Hybrid Events
Because event teams are investing the time and energy to ensure both virtual and physical experiences are highly valuable, they assert that the virtual experience of a hybrid event should not be free. Event teams who were quick to switch to free events with the emergence of COVID-19 have since switched to one virtual pricing model or another.
Enabling Exhibitors Through Hybrid Delivery
While discussing exhibitor engagement in hybrid events, some working group members suggested that exhibitors would rather return to full-physical booths rather than remain virtual. Many exhibitors have expressed that virtual booth interaction can feel awkward. RainFocus’ Product team countered these concerns by presenting a better way to handle hybrid exhibitors by releasing virtual booths early to drive pre, during, and post-event engagement with both physical and virtual interaction.
Measuring and Reporting on Hybrid Event Data
The meeting concluded with a conversation about measurement and reporting needs for hybrid events. The general consensus was that event teams would need unique data for their virtual and physical audiences. Working group members stressed the importance of having consistent data security and tracking measures in-person and online to provide a clear picture of each attendees’ journey.