The corporate events industry is at a turning point. With efforts afoot to restart the economy, the industry is going to have to break new ground in order to survive. Gone are the days when organizing original events with exclusive content was all you needed to put together innovative meetings, conferences or any other event. Moving forward, events will have to integrate these two essential components into their organizational core:
- Focusing on elevating hybrid events into a more interactive, innovative, immersive experience;
- Learning to engage participants so they rally around a common goal, e.g. how to shape the economy of tomorrow.
These are serious challenges the pandemic is imposing on us. So how do you tap into the latest event industry trends to inject your restarting process with new opportunities? The answers lie in these 5 key pointers from the Palais des congrès de Montréal on organizing hybrid events with panache.
A how-to on orchestrating creative hybrid events
In the wake of the success of the inaugural edition of the MTL Reunion hybrid event the Palais des congrès de Montréal hosted on October 28, here are the Top 5 recommended tips used to bring together local and international influencers as well as leading organizers from the events community, for a rethink of the industry’s future.
Use them to inspire your own process and turn your future meetings, shows and other events into major affairs:
1- Plan like never before
Do not underestimate the degree of preparation and management virtual events require. If anything, you’ll need to up your planning game. Scheduling project milestones, determining key stages (speakers selection, content writing, pre-recorded segments, timeline scripting, etc.) and setting specific pre- and post-event communication deliverables, will decisively shape your registration and participation outcomes, and the reach of your event. Allocate a video filming and production budget, whether you will be live streaming or pre-recording your content.
2- Inspire your audience with relevant, current, fresh content
Today, there exists a superabundance of conferences offering readily accessible content your prospects can tap into from anywhere in the world. Eliciting the interest of increasingly demanding participants therefore requires defining very specific niche areas for one’s event. Having compelling speakers who are gifted communicators, leading experts on the topics you wish to address who can provide their own unique perspective, can help turn your event into a bona fide source of inspiration and position you as a change-maker in your industry.
3- Pick an appropriate and engaging virtual platform
It is essential that you pick the right digital platform and learn how to fully exploit its interactive features. Your platform must be user-friendly and deliver an enjoyable user experience, but it must also be more than a basic videoconferencing tool, simply a portal for YouTube or Ted Talk style videos. For organizers, this is a dream opportunity to test and promote your services, but participants now also expect to be able to network, ask questions directly, make business connections and play a part in the collective process.
4- Be mindful of the participant in the overall programming of your virtual experience
Chances are your participants will be contending with some distractions while attending the event. Their environment will likely involve a smartphone in one hand, checking emails on their tablet with the other, and perhaps even the occasional interruption from a child home on a ped day. Scheduling short breaks between conferences, and maybe even arranging for wellness moments with a yoga or fitness partner will enable your audience to re-energize and stay focused.
5- Trigger engagement to consolidate durable business ties
Meetings have the power to foster big ideas. Capitalize on your events to help your audience build a solid business network. In the process, you too will be able to generate leads and contacts that will prove useful to your own business. On the day of the event, make sure those who registered can attend webinars and smaller forums where potential partners can entertain further discussions. Also, plan for post-event initiatives, e.g. personalized thank-you messages, invitations to re-stream the virtual conferences, or ways of taking networking opportunities to the next level. As a bonus, these initiatives will have the added benefit of filling the gap left by the current absence of business cocktails and luncheons.
About the author:
Director of Business Development and Strategic Alliances
Palais des congrès de Montréal
Luc Charbonneau has been the Palais des congrès de Montréal’s Director of Business Development and Strategic Alliances since 2010. Luc is a graduate of Université de Montréal. His convention industry career spans 30+ years, including 13 with Tourisme Montréal, heading the Canadian, US and international sales teams. Luc and the Palais team have built ties with numerous local and international networks. They generate upwards of $200 M in annual economic benefits for Montréal and Québec. Their work continues to broaden the city’s brand internationally as a leading host destination for major events.
Photo credit © Josée Lecompte
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal. As a result, the Chamber cannot be held responsible for published content.