The Return of In-Person Events

October 18, 2022

With pandemic concerns declining, more people are stepping out of their houses and returning to in-person events. That’s good news for event organizers, but it doesn’t mean it’s back to business as usual. Virtual events didn’t just fill the void that was left when in-person events were impossible, they changed the way events functioned. Here are a few ways in-person events have changed and what you can take away to make your next event more successful.

How In-Person Events Have Changed

It's not shocking that in-person events took a major hit in the onslaught of the pandemic and the health and safety gathering restrictions that followed. But as doors started opening up again and people returned to in-person events, many things were different from before.

Digital Burnout: It's not just the relaxation of gathering restrictions that are causing in-person events to make a comeback. The truth is, some people want to attend in-person events simply because they're tired of webinars and Zoom meetings. In-person events are a refreshing change of scenery.

The Advent of Hybrid Events: One positive change to come out of two years of virtual events is a more creative use of technology. Hybrid events now allow people to attend either in-person or virtually from the comfort of their own homes or offices. But these days, it’s more than just a live-stream to a digital audience. Good hybrid events give attendees access to virtual-only content and discussion groups.

Shifted Expectations: The pandemic did more than cause event organizers to find creative ways to use technology. It caused a shift in what in-person attendees are looking for. An in-person event has to offer something more than just back-to-back presentations someone could watch virtually. The in-person experience needs something more: human connection. During the pandemic, attendees missed out on those face-to-face interactions - meeting new peers, catching up with colleagues, and making connections. That needs to be a big part of any in-person event these days.

Utilize a Hybrid Strategy

As mentioned before with hybrid events, the creative use of technology gives you the best of both worlds. A hybrid event combines the face-to-face networking and hands-on product experience of a traditional in-person event with the convenience and broader reach of a virtual event. If you’re implementing a hybrid strategy for your next in-person event, here are some features from virtual events you should incorporate: 

One event, two experiences

Virtual attendees will have different needs from in-person attendees. That doesn't mean they want a different event. For the virtual experience, make sure your video streaming is working correctly and your presenters are prepared to speak in front of both a live audience and a camera. You also want your virtual attendees to have the experience of walking the event floor by offering a virtual showroom. For the in-person experience, make sure there is plenty of free time between presentations for attendees to network, connect, and walk the showroom floor. The content should be the same for both your virtual attendees and your in-person attendees, and joint activities should be inclusive to both.

Time Zone Flexibility

One of the benefits hybrid events add is the ability to attend from anywhere in the world. But it also means contending with multiple time zones. Make sure your sessions and keynote speeches can be accessed on-demand. That way virtual attendees based in other time zones can still get the same benefit as in-person attendees.

Get Creative with Networking Strategies

With new technology at organizers’ fingertips and attendees having new expectations for in-person events, here are some creative strategies to make networking a bigger focus at a trade show.

Incorporate breakout rooms and Q&As into your sessions. This is a great way to break up the one-presentation-after-another model used at in-person events before the pandemic. Attendees get specific questions answered and gain more clarity during Q&A sessions, and breakout rooms help them remember more useful information from presentations. As a bonus, they can take these opportunities to learn who they want to network with in between sessions.

Leave plenty of time for attendees to have conversations. It’s good to add blocks of time throughout the event for attendees to mingle, visit exhibitors on the showroom floor, and network with each other. This is a growing priority for visitors who attend the event in-person.

There are a number of ways to streamline and improve the in-person experience for attendees. Enhance your next event with the right mix of strategy and technology powered by Perenso.


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