21 Event Tips for '21
By Brianna Powell
After 16 months of temperature checks, disposable face masks and social distancing floor stickers, our industry is finally healing.
The increasing vaccination rates across the country have opened the door to being in-person again, without capacity limits or other restraints. Because of this, the ambitious list of in-person conferences, on the ground campaigns & galas that got left behind in 2020 are now back on the docket. Though our experiential landscape looks different now, we have found meaningful opportunities within this change.
Whether you’re a B2B, B2C, agency or in-house event producer, MAG has compiled 21 event tips for 2021 that are sure to inspire your experiential strategy.
Reconsider your virtual platform
Since the beginning of our industry's pivot to virtual events, there has been an uptick in virtual platform growth. Take a moment to research new players in the virtual platform field to see if there’s a better fit for your audience.
Plus-up event production
By investing in quality content capture, you're increasing the ROI of the event by creating meaningful content that can be used for post-event attendee communications, a shareable sizzle reel, social media highlights, or even another campaign down the road.
Perfect with practice
Set your team and presenters up for success by hosting rehearsals 1-2 days prior to your event. During this dedicated time with each speaker, the AV and event teams will share final suggestions, cue notes, and allow the talent to get comfortable on the assigned platform.
Pro Tip: Finalize content ahead of rehearsals to ensure the most accurate results.
Assign an emcee to guide the attendee experience
Invite a charismatic host to be the face of your event and lead programming. Having an emcee will help your event appear more polished, capture attendee’s attention, and allow for the theme to come to life within dialogue.
Virtual events especially benefit from a Master of Ceremonies when we can’t guarantee “butts in seats.”
Introduce a hybrid approach
Depending on your region's limitations, trying a hybrid approach in 2021 may be in the cards. While attendees will still be tuning in virtually, try inviting speakers to livestream together in-person or participate in a live Q&A session at an approved venue.
Pro Tip: As restrictions begin lifting, consider introducing an appointment-only, intimate brand event for attendees.
Maximize the tools your team already invests in
Virtual tools are constantly adding new features and updates, such as increased attendee support, subtitling, new integrations and more. Check in with your tech stack to ensure you’re utilizing these tools to their max and share findings with your team for increased visibility. You may be surprised by a new feature you have already invested in!
Invite team members to demos
When booking demos with new event tools, be sure to extend an open invite to your team. This opportunity will spark inspiration for future projects and allow new learnings to be shared efficiently.
Bring in experts when needed
Are you rock solid when it comes to designing an event microsite, but need help with attendee engagement strategy? By bringing in specialized assistance, your team will be able to focus on mastering your in-house elements while still giving attention to other details.
Thoughtfully plan your team's internal events
By hosting creative internal celebrations rooted in recognition, team members will feel increasingly inspired when planning attendee-facing events. This morale boost can occur quarterly in tandem with a holiday, or on a monthly basis.
Share on-demand content for post-event engagement
Convert your event page to an on-demand content hub after the event. The hub will give remote attendees the opportunity to experience content long past the event through session recordings, event photos and other important takeaways.
Tap into industry thought leaders
If your budget allows, consider crafting luxury experience kits to send to thought leaders and influencers in your community and discuss an organic marketing plan. This partnership will boost registration, attendance rates, and overall event reach.
Condense your agenda
In a virtual event setting, avoid losing your audience's attention by adding rigor to which events are livestreamed. For all sessions that don’t serve a specific purpose by being live, pre-record the content for attendees to experience on-demand.
Host virtual brainstorms with your team
Need fresh ideas? Tap into your team by hosting a virtual brainstorm. Encourage cameras on, a cup of coffee, and inspiration during this constructive team-building exercise.
Gamify whenever possible
Based on your content, gamification may be key in ensuring “sticky” learnings. Bring your content to life by adding games, tracking points, showcasing a leaderboard and more during the event.
Even with no budget for prizing, you’ll find your attendees are more engaged, leading to an increase in content retention and more incentives to engage them during the event.
Dive head-first into a theme
Add value to the attendee experience by surprising & delighting your audience with thoughtful details throughout the event.
Your event can come to life by aligning content with the theme, curating a bespoke experience kit, sharing an on-theme playlist, or coordinating a meaningful team training that takes your theme to the next level.
Host a second-screen experience
Most attendees are on multiple devices during a virtual event. Take advantage of this opportunity by adding in a phone-friendly element like mini games that relate to content, an on-brand virtual photo booth, or a chat feature that allows attendees to share thoughts during sessions.
Inviting a second-screen experience will ensure a rounded, holistic experience.
Attendees multi-task during virtual events
While attendees are tuning into your virtual event, it's likely that email, phone calls, and other household distractions will be fighting for their attention. Be sure to build your agenda to include extra breaks for your audience so they can focus on content and maintain a work/life balance.
Pro Tip: Add a kid-friendly swag bag with activities to keep younger age groups engaged. This could include on-theme coloring pages, mad libs, bingo, and more.
Reward attendees for tuning in
Attendees are inundated with webinars, virtual events, and other online obligations. Encourage attendees to register and attend your event by allotting part of your budget to incentivize participation with a raffle or virtual gift cards to distribute.
Deluxe your digital swag bags
Virtual backdrops, an on-theme playlist, and event badges are staples of a virtual swag bag. Push this concept even further by including custom items such as virtual caricatures, an on-theme e-book, media subscriptions and more to create lasting engagement.
Survey your audience
Your audience is your greatest asset – be sure to check in with them before, during and after your event. Their thoughts will help guide content priorities, engagement opportunities and help strengthen the community.
Pro Tip: Raffle gift cards, swag, or other prizes to attendees who completed event surveys.
Ensure the event serves your audience
Attendees make our events shine so be sure to share content that is not only true to your brand, but also invaluable to your audience. By making your community the focus of your event, you’ll see a higher year-after-year show rate, more meaningful networking, and a stronger attendee investment in the experience.
We’re so excited to see what the rest of the year has in store for experiential! Thank you for being a part of this journey with us. For more tips and event inspiration, follow us on Instagram.