Changing Times: A new era of hybrid, digitally enhanced events?

In our series of Changing Times interviews with event organisers, we find out the ways in which the meetings industry is adapting and surviving in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Here, Carole Quinn, operations director at Legacy Sustainable Event Management, considers how COVID-19 could shape the future of the events industry.

Carole Quinn

With so many events across the world being postponed or cancelled, event planners are increasingly looking to digital tools to help overcome some of the challenges posed by COVID-19.

Along with this, the climate emergency still needs to be at the forefront of our minds. Anxiety about environmental doom and pandemic meltdown can be paralysing, but now is not the time to give up. We will all need to work together to bounce back and keep the industry moving forward in a financially and environmentally sustainable way.

Sure, there is a perception that virtual events can’t replicate that human interaction which make live events so special. They can be exciting in their own right though if done imaginatively. We think it is time to embrace this completely new subsector of events – the virtual event – which could enhance rather than replace the live event experience.

There are some unique benefits to virtual events, including the removal of attendance limits on keynote talks and the option for attendees to replay sessions they miss live. There are also some exciting digital tools and platforms out there that can enhance audience interaction if agencies are willing to be creative in how they engage. Some interesting ideas are:

  • Pre-engagement sessions in advance of the virtual event to build excitement
  • Gamification of event content and leadership boards to increase engagement
  • Virtual chat rooms connected to social networks such as Linkedin
  • Utilise digital algorithms to match delegates based on their work and interests
  • Q&A sessions supported by a content library and live links to demo videos
  • Virtual breaks in partnership with catering suppliers to deliver nutritious lunches to the virtual attendees.

Whether it is in response to COVID-19 or sustainability, perhaps this is the beginning of a new era of hybrid, digitally enhanced events that combine the best of the online and live experience.

Get in touch if you would like help making your event more sustainable. We are all in this together!

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