Top Event Planning Skills to Manage Virtual and Hybrid Events
Ever since virtual and hybrid events became the hottest buzzwords in the meetings and events industry, questions have lingered around the responsibilities of organisers and the event management skills they need in the post-COVID era.
With more virtual elements coming into play, organisers need to plan events in a purely digital ecosystem or by creating mixed experiences that combine physical and virtual events. While the end goals remain the same – the events must resonate with their audience, empower their target customers and add more value for stakeholders – the means have changed and so have the desired skills to envision and execute great events.
It’s not enough to just be a smart decision-maker or a skilled negotiator, but be well-versed with the digital landscape to deliver the event your audience needs.
Here’s a lowdown on the skills needed to be a successful event planner:
Get familiar with virtual event platforms – quickly!
According to leading event industry website EventMB’s The Future of the Event Industry 2021 Outlook, 53 per cent of event professionals consider themselves “comfortable or savvy” with virtual event technology.These numbers are expected to rise as virtual and hybrid events become pivotal to connecting people worldwide. For organisers, it is essential to get acquainted with the technology that powers these experiences and understand the different virtual event platforms that best suit your event, for example, one with AI-matchmaking technology would be a better fit if you want to connect attendees to different products, people and content at online/hybrid exhibitions and trade shows.
Familiarity with basic troubleshooting is also recommended to handle any technical difficulties and onboard your remote audience.
“It’s important to start training on the latest technology available to us. We have been using AI-powered matchmaking platforms to connect with potential customers and have meetings throughout the year, which eventually results in a face-to-face business opportunity at a live exhibition,” says Nick Dugdale-Moore, European Regional Manager, UFI.
Think like a TV producer
“We are TV producers. We are suddenly creating television. The new rules need to be applied now to events,” – Mark Jeffries, author, keynote speaker and leading event moderator.Your events are happening live and also being broadcast to a remote audience. As an organiser, you need to understand the technical aspects of production and create high-quality experiences that provide more value to both the live and virtual audience. Two things you should consider:
- Learn how to transition your content from physical to virtual settings with an aim to maximise engagement with the remote audience.
- Improve your production knowledge base and hone in-house talent, improving the production quality while also saving on costs.
Leverage data as much as possible
Equip yourself with data analytics tools to paint a more detailed picture of your attendees – how long they are staying online, which sessions they are interested in the most and what content formats are getting the maximum engagement. Gain deep customer insights through predictive analytics and use this data to build and improve events that your audience will favour in the future.Stuart Ledden, Group Marketing Director at Tarsus explains further:
“It’s important to meet our customers’ objectives, like selling lead-generation packages, education packages and creating revenue streams around multi-touch points. Generating analytics through digital platforms can become a new monetisation strategy.”
Listening skills – keep your pulse on the industry
As an event organiser, you need to stay abreast of the latest industry trends, changing attendee needs and updates on COVID-19 safety guidelines. It’s better to be informed in advance and make the necessary adjustments than scramble around for a last-minute fix. You should also be well aware of the requirements for hybrid events: which venues are equipped with the facilities required to host one, including technical infrastructure like A/V, wifi, digital signages as well as safety arrangements for physical distancing, protective equipment for personnel, hygiene stations and more.
Crisis management skills
Even though organisers are used to dealing with last-minute changes, the pandemic proved a detailed crisis management plan is crucial to prepare for any unforeseen scenario.Develop an emergency action plan for different situations – from strategy and response management to fine-tuning your event according to your stakeholder needs. Shape your crisis communication strategy and ensure your audience remains informed and up-to-date, allowing you to stay on top of things while maintaining business continuity.
These are some of the skills to help you organise virtual and hybrid events that stand out from the competition. It’s recommended to further explore the latest technologies (such as virtual and augmented reality) as well as changing industry trends to ensure you always stay a step ahead of the curve.
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