3 Ways To Transform Your In-Person Events

Published: August 18, 2022

1 devvvIn-person events are making a comeback, informed by the lessons learned over more than two years of hosting effective, inclusive and data-rich virtual events. The American Express Meetings & Events Global Forecast expects 81% of events to feature an in-person element this year. Event organizers continue to reimagine event format, venue, attendance and more. They’re using the most dynamic aspects of virtual and in-person events to offer immersive experiences like never before.

Demand for these experiences is growing — at Bizzabo, we’ve seen a 255% increase in in-person and hybrid events held on our Event Experience OS between Q4 2021 and Q2 2022, while the volume of virtual events has remained relatively constant. As organizations plan future event experiences, they’re gathering in person with renewed purpose to maximize the value of events for all stakeholders.

Here are three ways event experience leaders can transform their new in-person event strategy.

1. Connect To A Bold Purpose

The best events aren’t one-size-fits-all but rather bespoke to fit your organization’s purpose and audience’s needs. Identify a bold purpose at the beginning of your planning. Every other decision — from the agenda you compile and the venue you choose to the technology you use to execute the event — should flow from those event goals.

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Once you’ve identified your purpose, tailor it to your audience: What topics interest them? What knowledge and experience will they bring to the event and what insights can you offer them? How can this event deepen your connections with attendees and propel your business goals forward? Design with these answers in mind. 

When event planning begins, organize a blue-sky brainstorm and empower your team members to explore new twists on old designs and identify unconventional approaches to your event planning.

2. Build A Community

Events are highly effective for building professional relationships: 80% of professionals cite networking as critical to their career success. As you welcome attendees to in-person events once again, reconsider your approach to engaging them. Your audience is a community taking shape — free from the confines of place or time — with the potential to form robust connections.

How will your event foster those connections before attendees arrive and maintain them after closing remarks? Use technology to offer the best of both physical and digital worlds, leveraging data to personalize outreach and encourage like-minded people to interact and bond during your event.

Start building community with a few simple tactics:

  • Incorporate feedback before the event by leveraging an online collaboration tool to collect attendees’ networking suggestions, including how and with whom they want to connect and then build opportunities based on their feedback;
  • Create gathering spaces by developing a registration confirmation page that also functions as a pre-event networking activity;
  • Foster connections by arranging specialized meet-ups for new attendees, veteran attendees and break out groups based on industry interests or regional locations; and
  • Create opportunities to strengthen new relationships by offering a dedicated, online gathering space.

3. Use Data To Evaluate Event Experiences

Event data bridges event experiences and business outcomes. A good grasp of data helps close what we call the “Event Impact Gap” — the difference between the event organizers’ aspirations to create impactful experiences and the ability to deliver those experiences with current technology. Too often, organizers wrestle with outdated event software, which impedes their ability to act on data insights and design personalized experiences. These inadequacies keep event experience leaders from realizing the full potential of their events’ business impact.

Consider incorporating data insights by:

  • Collecting behavioral data at in-person events through the use of solutions such as wearable technology;
  • Using event experience technology to suggest sessions and arrange 1:1 meetings for similar guests;
  • Trying new approaches to registration forms, in-session polls and even email marketing subject lines to see what’s most effective; and
  • Choosing three to five key success metrics and focusing your collection efforts there.

Attendee expectations for event experiences have evolved, and event experience leaders must follow suit. As we reimagine the potential of in-person events, we must plan with purpose, create opportunities to foster community and harness the power of data to make each event better than the last.

Devin Cleary is the VP of Global Events at Bizzabo, an event technology platform for hybrid, virtual and in-person events. Cleary is a passionate, results-driven event producer and marketing executive with experience leading the creation and active management of diverse experiential marketing programs for B2B, nonprofit and consumer markets. His accolades include features in Event Marketer’s 2017 “B2B Dream Team,” BostInno’s “50 on Fire” and most recently, inclusion in Virtual Events Institute’s “Smart 100.” 

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