How to Reinvent In-Person Events: A Post-Pandemic Guide
March 30, 2023
As the world moves past the pandemic, event organizers are embracing the return to in-person events. However, with the constantly evolving landscape, simply going back to pre-pandemic ways may not be the most effective approach in the long run.
The pandemic pushed event organizers to adopt new virtual and hybrid event formats to satisfy people's communication and collaboration needs. Now, we can leverage the same innovative technology to augment experiences and foster connections at in-person events.
To make the most out of in-person events in the new normal, it's crucial to keep up with the changing needs and expectations of attendees. Our 3-part strategy can help you adapt and create successful in-person events that leave a lasting impression on your attendees:
- Add hybrid meetings for attendees who are unable to attend
- Create valuable and engaging experiences for in-person attendees
- Offer diverse meeting formats to attract a savvy audience
State of affairs for meetings and events
In 2023, business travel spending in the United States is predicted to increase by 27%, leading to a whopping $100 billion spent on travel. This surge is mainly due to the growing desire for face-to-face interactions, resulting in an increased demand for meetings and events.
However, some challenges persist according to the 2023 Conference Industry Report:
- In 2022, the number of in-person conferences rose by 32%, while hybrid meetings saw a staggering increase of 260%
- Shifting priorities, economic recovery, and staffing challenges have made it difficult for attendees and organizations to justify the costs of in-person events
- Younger, international, and first-time attendees are increasingly becoming the profile of event attendees
So, how can event planners and organizers navigate the evolving event landscape for 2023 and beyond? Keep reading to discover a 3-part strategy that you can use to adapt to these changes.
1. Introduce hybrid meeting options
Event organizers can easily blend in-person and virtual attendance options with Pigeonhole Live's hybrid meeting and event features. This helps to reach a larger audience and accommodates attendees who cannot attend in person due to various circumstances such as health concerns, travel restrictions, or unforeseen events.
Let’s imagine that a nature conservation organization wants to host an event to raise awareness about its cause and connect with supporters. The organization could promote engagement between in-person and remote attendees using a hybrid format.
The event could be held in person at a national park, with speakers and presentations about conservation statistics delivered live to the in-person audience and video-streamed to the online audience.
Both in-person and virtual attendees can actively engage in a live chat session using Pigeonhole Live, allowing them to share their reactions and opinions about ways to preserve the natural ecosystem as the event unfolds.
2. Engage attendees with valuable experiences
In-person meetings provide a sense of intimacy, connection, and empathy that is difficult to replicate via video.
Paul Axtell, corporate trainer and author of Meetings Matter
Studies show that traditional in-person interactions provide psychological and emotional benefits that virtual settings cannot replicate. Direct communication can foster a sense of community, improve interpersonal relations, and establish trust among attendees.
a. Encourage idea generation and collaboration
Pigeonhole Live's technology can be used by organizers to enrich the immersive experience of in-person meetings and events. Real-time communication tools can facilitate a deeper engagement with the content and other attendees, creating a safe space that empowers attendees to speak up.
Let's take the healthcare industry as an example. Healthcare professionals attend conferences and events to network with colleagues, learn about the latest medical breakthroughs and advancements, and discuss industry trends.
Attendees at a medical conference could use Pigeonhole Live's polls to share their opinions on a specific topic. The poll results can be displayed in real time, which can spark spirited conversations and debates. Additionally, the live Q&A session can be moderated, allowing attendees to ask questions and interact with the speakers directly.
Plus, organizers could use Pigeonhole Live together with workshop activities to encourage participation and collaboration. People could be divided into teams to solve a complex patient case study. Each team is composed of healthcare specialties like doctors, nurses, and therapists. This encourages communication and teamwork to find a solution and showcase the importance of interdisciplinary care.
b. Personalize and customize event experiences
To create unforgettable event experiences, organizers must understand and cater to their attendees' unique needs and preferences.
By analyzing data and analytics, organizers can get valuable insights into their attendees' interests and preferences, allowing them to tailor the event's agenda, content, and experiences to meet those needs.
This personalized approach ensures that attendees feel valued and engaged, leading to a more enjoyable and productive event.
A tourism promotion board, for example, holding a travel expo to showcase their country could use Pigeonhole Live's insights and analytics feature to tailor content and experiences based on attendees' travel preferences and interests.
The promotion board could collect attendees' travel preferences before the event via online surveys or polls, and share the data with expo vendors to customize itineraries and attractions that align with their interests.
Vendors at the expo could use a custom, branded Pigeonhole Live interface at their booths to enhance engagement. They could use Q&A, polls, and quizzes for in-booth talks and gather visitor feedback through word clouds, open-ended, and MCQ polls.
To further encourage participation, the promotion board could incentivize attendees to complete surveys by offering gifts, while an instant chat group for each booth would allow visitors to ask follow-up questions, even if they had left the booth.
c. Create relationship-building opportunities
To promote meaningful relationships and connections at events, organizers should create networking opportunities that cater to attendees' comfort levels. While the event's content is essential, building relationships with other attendees is equally important to create a lasting impact.
Let's say there's a mental health conference for professionals, advocates, and organizations. They have come together to network, connect, and collaborate to further the cause of mental health initiatives.
Using Pigeonhole Live's pre-event polling and survey features, the organizers could personalize the networking experience by leveraging insights and data to suggest connections and plan suitable activities.
During the conference, interactive quizzes and polls could spark conversations and networking opportunities, with results displayed on screens. Attendees can mix and mingle, rubbing elbows with fellow like-minded individuals who share their passions and expertise.
In addition, Pigeonhole Live's word cloud feature can create ice breakers for attendees by displaying the most common words that represent their professional goals and experiences.
This creates a ripple effect of excitement as others with shared interests and experiences chime in, resulting in more meaningful networking opportunities that can leave a lasting impact.
d. Promote skills development and learning
Organizers should provide attendees with events and meetings that offer valuable learning opportunities and skills development. This could be achieved by creating hands-on learning experiences that attendees can apply to their work or personal lives.
For example, a financial services company wants to educate financial advisors on new industry trends and best practices at a conference. Pigeonhole Live's platform could be used to provide interactive and experiential learning experiences.
The company could host breakout sessions, powered by live Q&A, with industry experts for attendees to develop new skills like portfolio management. Interactive simulations and case studies can help attendees apply these concepts practically.
e. Cultivate shared purpose and community
Creating a sense of community and shared purpose among event attendees is crucial to fostering engagement and collaboration.
Organizers should design events that promote a shared purpose, such as social impact or sustainability goals, and provide opportunities for people to connect and collaborate around these goals. This will not only enhance attendee engagement but also create a more meaningful and impactful event experience.
Let's say a non-profit organization is hosting a fundraising event for a specific social cause, such as poverty alleviation. The organization could use Pigeonhole Live's platform to create opportunities for attendees to connect and collaborate around this shared higher purpose.
During the event, the organization could use Pigeonhole Live's live polling feature to gather input and feedback from attendees on how they believe poverty can be alleviated. This not only encourages attendees to engage with the cause but also provides valuable insights for the organization to improve their work.
The organization could also use Pigeonhole Live's Q&A tool to host a panel discussion on the topic of poverty alleviation, featuring experts and stakeholders. Attendees could submit questions in real-time, encouraging collaboration and knowledge-sharing.
Additionally, Pigeonhole Live could be used to create a friendly competition among attendees to raise funds for the cause. A quiz could be created about poverty statistics and successful poverty reduction initiatives. This not only fosters a sense of community and shared purpose, but also encourages people to actively engage with the cause, get takeaway points, and contribute to its success.
3. Provide a variety of meeting styles and formats
a. Run hands-on workshops
To boost attendee engagement and collaboration, event organizers can develop interactive and engaging formats that provide a memorable experience. One example is immersive experiences, which encourage participation and collaboration. Such strategies can enhance the attendee experience and foster meaningful connections.
Let's consider a sustainability conference for the agriculture industry. Organizers could set up interactive workshops and sessions where attendees work together to solve real-world sustainability challenges, including food loss and waste on farms.
Pigeonhole Live's open-ended poll and word cloud features could be used to encourage participation and interaction, with attendees brainstorming, noting down ideas, and voting on agri-technology marketing campaigns.
Attendees could be divided into groups to generate novel solutions that use regenerative farming practices, with MCQ polls used to address any misconceptions about holistic land management, and a live Q&A feature allowing anyone to submit further questions for discussions.
b. Create resilient event strategies
Contingency plans are crucial for event organizers to handle unforeseen circumstances, especially after the pandemic. For instance, organizers can pivot to a virtual online event when faced with unexpected cancellations or travel restrictions. This ensures that attendees can still participate in the event, regardless of their physical location or circumstances.
Let's imagine that a sports organization hosting a multi-stage bicycle race wants to use Pigeonhole Live's platform as part of its contingency plan. This will enable the organization to quickly pivot to a virtual event with gamification features if the sports event needs to be canceled.
Real-time chat and reactions could be used to fuel lively conversations and raise the energy level of a live stream event, like a competitive virtual Zwift race, which could be activated as a backup plan. In addition, the organization could engage with online fans by holding quizzes to select lucky participants to ride alongside the pros!
Maximize in-person events and meetings now
Organizers need to reimagine in-person events to meet changing attendees' needs. By embracing technology, offering personalized experiences, creating engagement opportunities, and developing contingency plans, events can be more impactful than ever before! With the right strategies and tools, in-person events can continue to bring people together and create more meaningful connections.