More meeting and event professionals are actively booking or sourcing new events now than any time since 2020. According to the Encore Summer Planner Pulse 2022 report, that number represents 71 percent of 461 survey respondents, who represent a diverse swath of corporate, association, administrative, marketing, third-party, independent and special event producers and organizers.
More than half of the meeting and event professionals surveyed say they are booking new events. And only five percent are currently rescheduling or re-booking events — the lowest number since the pandemic began.
Despite rising costs, in-person events are expected to increase in the second half of 2022.
Key survey findings:
- 80 percent of events will have an in-person audience
- 20 percent of events will be hybrid, with both in-person and remote audiences
The demands of keeping these dual hybrid event audiences engaged and planning two parallel events are a major stressor, the report finds. Perhaps that’s why the participant experience is becoming a greater factor in event design, with professionals layering technology over the in-person experience to create events that feel like they are in-person+ — with or without hybrid participants.
When asked how future in-person events will compare to pre-pandemic in-person events:
- 45 percent of respondents said better attendee engagement
- 38 percent of respondents said more networking
- 37 percent of respondents said more attendee personalization
This trend drove Encore to create a free guide to help meeting and event professionals meet shifting audience expectations: Boundless Possibilities for Engagement. The Encore team also offers free consultations on how to enhance the in-person and remote attendee experience.
Other challenges meeting and event professionals say they face include lead times, specifically for large events. Event professionals report that a third of their events for more than 250 people (34 percent) must be organized within a three-to-six month window. Only half of these sized events are planned more than six months out. Most small meetings with one to 50 participants (43 percent) are being organized within one to two months out. Most mid-sized events with 51 to 250 participants (43 percent) are being organized three to six months out.
Want to read the full report? Download it here.
The basic tools, technologies and best practices you need to engage dual remote and in-room audiences.
What are your event essentials?
Basic event technology requirements
Camera and audio: For small, hybrid meetings, most cameras offer integrated audio and speaker solutions. For larger events, you may want an external camera or a broadcast-quality setup. The three main considerations that will help you select the right camera and audio for your event are:
- Connectivity: Will the camera/audio be integrated into a laptop, plugged in via USB, or will it be a broadcast solution connected via SDI or HDMI?
- Field of view (FOV): Do you need a camera that swivels 360 degrees? Or is a static shot with fixed angle of 125 degrees or less sufficient?
Wired internet: Pre-pandemic, wireless internet was the standard, but for broadcast events, you need a wired internet connection.
- Simple wired internet (3 MB) is ideal for 1:1 videoconferencing but not great for webinars.
- Superior wired internet (5 MB) is ideal for webinars, but not great for hybrid conferences.
- Dedicated bandwidth (varies depending on need) is ideal for hybrid conferences and broadcast events but is overkill for 1:1 videoconferences and most webinars.
Additional displays: If your event is a one-way broadcast, then you don’t need to worry about additional in-room displays. But they are phenomenal at increasing engagement between remote and in-room audiences. They help these dual audiences see and talk with each other.
- Traditional tripod screen kits are ideal for educational meetings, standard presentations and large conference rooms. They’re not great for rooms with limited space or interactive sessions.
- Large format monitors are idea for board meetings, rooms with limited space, collaborative sessions and large conference rooms. They are not great for single-focus meetings.
Enterprise videoconferencing tool: When you’re broadcasting content, you need a reliable videoconferencing tool to stream content. Encore offers an enterprise videoconferencing tool through Zoom that guarantees the highest quality stream available. Encore also provides platform solutions and onsite support for technologies such as Chime Go℠, Chime Live℠, Cvent Attendee Hub® and Notified Virtual Event Platform®
Laptop rental: If you want to be able to show up and start your meeting, or if you need to check email and work during breaks, then invest in a rental laptop. For a relatively small investment, it provides huge peace of mind and frees up presenters and planners onsite. Having a dedicated laptop for your event guarantees:
- Properly configured software and broadcast settings
- Full integration with technology services
- Required processing power needed to display rich media content without glitches
Event technology provider: Producing a hybrid event means you’re designing two simultaneous experiences. With one of them being face-to-face and the other existing in digital spaces, this creates additional layers of complexity and potential errors. Partnering with a trusted event technology partner, like Encore, can eliminate human error, turnaround professional-quality events in an abbreviated period, and help you exceed expectations. Contact Encore for a free consultation.
Want to read more about hybrid essential technology? See this content and more in guidebook form by clicking the link below:
It’s exciting to watch in-person meetings and events return. According to Blackstone Securities, group meetings and convention gatherings will return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year. However, in this post-lockdown environment, attendee expectations have changed. Event technology has advanced. Your audience will also look very different than it did pre-pandemic. Consider these February 2022 findings from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics:
- 3 percent of people over the age of 55 have left the workforce
- 9 percent of the entire American workforce (47.4 million people) quit their jobs in 2021
The pandemic reshaped how we work in America. Even as offices reopen, roughly 6 in 10 US workers (59%) who say their jobs can be done from home are working from home all or most of the time, up from just 23% who worked remotely before the COVID-19. (Pew Research Center, Feb. 16 2022)
According to the Q1 2022 U.S. Travel Association Business Tracker, business travelers say developing relationships is the most important aspect of their business trips. Education and networking traditionally are the No. 1 and 2 most-important reasons to attend events. But the way education and networking components engage participants needs to change. No one is coming out of this pandemic with the same set of values or expectations they had going in. And that creates significant barriers to enjoyment if you intend to plan your events the same way.
All this means event designers must adapt to meet evolving audience expectations.
As an event designer, you have the opportunity tonew event strategies and help discarding their outdated ones. There’s never been a better opportunity to position yourself as a strategic team leader. The rules have changed. It’s time to step up your game. This guide will help you adapt, transform and outperform expectations. Are you ready to play? Game on!
Consider the following:
- The number of in-person events are increasing as fully-virtual events decrease, yet nearly a quarter of all meetings will remain hybrid through 2022. Source: Encore Planner Pulse Spring 2022 Report
- Association professionals report more than 50 percent of their second and third quarter 2022 events will be hybrid and 35 percent will be digital/online only. Source: PCMA Convene Covid-19 Recovery Survey
This data signals a need for meeting and event professionals to shift their mindsets. If between 25 percent and 50 percent of an organization’s events will be hybrid, it might be useful for organizers to think of hybrid events as being ‘in-person+’ rather than just added work or a passing fad.
What do we mean by in-person+?
We mean that technology developed for virtual event platforms can be adapted to enrich the in-room event experience and allow in-person attendees to switch between real-time and on-demand engagement, as needed. For example, if a participant gets an important call during a session and has to leave the room, they could use the event platform Chime Live to consume the content virtually and toggle back to the in-room experience once the call is over.
Virtual attendees are valuable members of any meeting community. Research by MPI and PCMA have proven that virtual events don’t cannibalize in-person attendance. In fact, people are more likely to attend an in-person event after experiencing it as a remote participant. Offering that virtual option allows people who can’t attend the in-person gathering to still experience your event’s content and community. It broadens your reach and helps you engage new audiences. It also amplifies your event return on investment (ROI) by increasing potential participant engagement, transactions and revenue from sponsors and exhibitors.
One of the best ways to create a seamless experience is to focus on engaging both the in-person and remote viewing audiences. Let this document be a guide to help you navigate the process of innovating your event and content design processes so you can access the boundless opportunities for engagement in-person, hybrid and digital events offer.
What’s in this guide
The purpose of this guide is to help you navigate these new opportunities by focusing your attention on seven key areas:
- Developing an innovation process for event design — How to generate, select, and evaluate ideas as well as how to catalogue and store ideas for future use.
- Leveraging event technology for engagement — The basic tools, technologies and best practices you need to engage dual remote and in-room audiences.
- Mapping the attendee journey — How to map the customer journey for your event participants and key stakeholders so that your event design achieves your desired outcomes.
- Creating healthy event ecosystems — Events comprise multiple components, or ecosystems. This section will help you test the health of each one and fix unhealthy ecosystems.
- Practicing radical inclusion — How to avoid common problems that leave attendees feeling disengaged, unwanted and excluded from your event experience.
- Designing engaging educational experiences — How to help event participants engage with content before, during and after your event in ways that will help them learn, remember and value your conference content.
- Maximizing return on education, return on objective and return on investment (ROE, ROO and ROI) — How to analyze event data, report results and use them to improve the event experience, revenues and ROI.
Developing an Innovation Process for Event Design
How to generate, select, and evaluate ideas as well as how to catalogue and store ideas for future use.
Step 1: Identify what needs to change
Sun Tzu wrote, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
If you begin the innovation process without knowing what needs to change, you’re prioritizing tactics over strategy. That’s why it’s important to look at data and feedback from past events or marketplace research before you design your next event.
- Data-point outliers: In which areas did your event score the worst? Where did it score highest? Build upon your successes. Look for areas of opportunity. If something isn’t working, either tweak it or stop doing it.
- Strong anecdotal feedback: Survey results don’t tell the full story. What kind of feedback did you, event team or staff gather from hallway conversations or complaints? Note: People will be more forthcoming and honest with an independent third-party auditor.
- Customer or industry pain points: What keeps your customers up at night? What arethe industry’s biggest pet peeves? These are friction points that your event might be able to solve.
- Big fails: Was there anywhere else you feel your last event (or other events by your competitive set) fellshort?
All will present opportunities for change. Identify three to five items that would make the biggest impact on your event or audience. These are the areas on which you want to focus your idea generation efforts.
Step 2: Invite the right people to generate ideas with you
If everyone in the room looks the same, has the same background or works in the same department, chances are that they’ll generate similar ideas. You don’t want an echo chamber. To generate ideas, you need diversity of perspectives, backgrounds and opinions.
To achieve this, invite a cross-section of key stakeholders and internal team members, including people who may not be directly connected to your event team. Make sure they all feel welcome, included and have an opportunity to share their voice.
Step 3: Lay down some basic rules
If you don’t lay down a few basic rules for idea generation, you’ll end up with a brainstorming session dominated by a few people. Avoid this by:
- Making space for introverted contributors: Before group conversations or any sharing begins, let people have five to seven minutes to write down their ideas on a set topic or question. This allows people to generate ideas without fear of being shut down.
- Create a clear activity schedule: Idea generation should be a time of pure brainstorming. Help participants resist the urge to start shooting ideas down or discussing them by creating different time-bound segments of the idea generation process. For example:
- Make it clear that idea generation time is solely for generating ideas without discussing or debating them. If you allow people to start judging ideas now, you’ll shut everyone down. If anyone offers an opinion, remind them there will be time to discuss the ideas later.
- Follow idea generation time with an activity that allows groups to add bullet points or creative strategies to ideas that speak to them. For example, if you’ve got five areas to innovate, divide the participants into five groups so there is one working on challenges and solutions for each area.
- After these ideas have been fleshed out and contextualized, give groups time to present on the challenges and solutions they worked on. Now is the time to discuss, debate, tweak and improve.
- Develop a parking lot: When people get off-track, gently steer them back on course. One of the easiest ways to do this is to take items that they want to discuss and place them in a “parking lot” that you can come back to later, if time allows.
- Decide on winning ideas and innovations: Ideally, the group in the room can also make the go-ahead decisions. But if that’s not possible, enlist their help in creating the presentations, videos or pitches required for the senior leadership team or event decision makers during the idea generation session. Remember: You don’t need to change everything. Trying one to three new things may be all you can handle.
- Determine how you will measure success: This is an important item to discuss while you’re debating and discussing the ideas. Once you know how success will be measured, then identify who will be responsible for implementing, tracking and reporting those measurements so you can evaluate the success of the experiment post-event.
Step 4: Capture the ideas and innovations generated
- Document the process: Film the presentations, assign dedicated note-takers for each group, or capture what is discussed in some way that makes it easy to archive.
- Create a knowledge database: Sometimes you’ll discover a great idea or innovative process that won’t work for the current event, but which you’d like to try at some point. Don’t lose these ideas. Instead, create a knowledge database.
- Keep records of your experiments: The knowledge database is also a phenomenal place to keep track of what happened when you applied your grandiose ideas and innovations to your event.
Step 5: Analyze results and iterate on your success (or failure)
- Analyze the results: What did you learn implementing this idea or innovation? Why did it work or not work?
- Present your findings: Who is invested in the success or failure of your event? What is the best way to communicate this information to them?
- Iterate and build on your success: Innovation is an iterative process, not a one-and-done thing. That’s why it’s important to examine and improve on your innovations, even if they were successful. If it worked, is there a way to build on that success? If it didn’t work, is there a something you can tweak that might help it work next time?
People are returning to in-person events. But the audience doesn’t look the same. One reason might be because the majority of Americans care more about their mental health, physical health and family than they did before the pandemic (Source: The Harris Poll, “The Great Awakening”), by 67 percent, 71 percent and 72 percent, respectively.
It’s clear that if you want to expand your in-person event’s reach, adding a hybrid element is the way to go. According to the Spring 2022 Encore Planner Pulse report, 25 percent of events will continue to have a hybrid component through the end of the year. For associations, that number may be as high as 50 percent, if recent PCMA research is any indication. True, 70 percent of people surveyed prefer attending events in-person, but do you really want to shut out 30 percent of your potential audience?
That’s why event organizers should start to think about hybrid as being ‘in-person+’: A way to enhance the in-room experience and make sure that everyone who wants to can attend your event.
Maximizing virtual event management
There are three things every hybrid event needs:
- Event Platform
Chime Go is a fully supported, quick start event site that the Encore team can configure in multiple ways. Setting up a Chime Go microsite is an easy way to add hybrid functionality to your in-person meetings. Think of Chime Go as a dedicated website that we create just for your event that brings the essential elements together in one location that your in-person and online participants can access from their own device —mobile, laptop, desktop, tablet, etc.
- Branding and theming
- Pre-event and onsite access
- Agenda with meeting map
- Q&A with audience upvoting
- Platform analytics
- Web accessible for screen readers
- Support for more than 10,000+ users
- Sponsor banners
- Fundraising links
- Chat & sentiment stream
- Closed captioning
- Creative services
- Broadcast or on-demand video
- and more.
Being able to engage participants prior to the event and after maximizes the ways you can connect with your audience to build excitement, leverage word of mouth marketing and keep them buzzing long after they return home. The functionality keep audiences tuned in and gives everyone a chance to have a voice, express their opinions and connect with the content and each other. And being able to self-register and build personal agendas gives event participants the tools they need to maximize the value they get out of the event. The data you gain from the event dashboard will tell you what worked, what didn’t and help you improve the experience for everyone next time.
With a conference, content is king, and context provides value. That’s why agendas play such a pivotal role in convincing people to attend an event. Once they’re there, you want to reduce any barriers to enjoyment and make it easy for them to navigate the experience and extract value from it.
Think about it: If someone is going to spend money on travel, or ask their company to do so, they need to know the event will be worth their investment. If you’re asking them to leave work and family obligations behind, you need to let them know what they will experience. And you need to reinforce that value onsite with seamless interactions with your event technology.
That’s why you should consider using an event site for your in-person meeting with robust agenda and audience engagement features that attendees can conveniently access with a mobile or other device, so they can check what’s ahead and where they need to be next. If you have at least three weeks to organize your event, Encore recommends the mobile-friendly event technology platform Chime Go℠ to take your in-person event to the next level.
Ideal event types
Chime Go is an ideal solution for in-person conferences with added touches that show participants you appreciate their attendance and want them to have a wonderful experience. This platform is a full-service option, which means that you don’t have to set it up by yourself. The Encore team can configure Chime Go in multiple way to support events.
Boundless possibilities for in-person events
Chime Go helps attendees navigate and participate in the event in a convenient, handheld format. Features can include:
- Event branding
- Agendas with the ability for participants to bookmark sessions of interest
- Venue maps can be added to help attendees get where they need to be
- Q&A submission with audience upvoting
Add-on options include sponsor banners, fundraising links, hybrid video stream, chat, and sentiment capability, closed captioning, on-demand content, and more. Chime Go can also be configured for remote attendees, if you plan on sharing broadcast or pre-recorded content. You can also include links to video conferencing for breakouts or collaborative sessions
Chime Go is an easy and affordable way to generate pre-show excitement around the content you’re offering, keep everyone at the show on track, and help participants find what they need to gain value from your event. Want to learn more about the boundless possibilities Chime Go offers? Contact the Encore team to schedule a free consultation.
In-person events are back. But there’s no ‘business as usual.’
“It’s evident that the events industry is still finding its feet, post-pandemic,” says General Manger of Concise UK Jim Hughes. “Whilst many venues and planners are seeing a return to near 2019 business … the world is different. The pandemic has encouraged even the least tech-savvy to master the basics of technology. We can’t think of returning to the old world of paper-based events and printed agendas.”
Additionally, audience attitudes have evolved. “Over 70 percent of Americans list Family and Physical Health and 67 percent list Mental Health as their priority over work, career development and travel opportunities,” Hughes adds.
The most successful events will be the ones that can integrate the easy connectivity and interactivity of virtual events into the in-room experience and cater to audiences with these new priorities. Let’s look at how organizers can do this by engaging audiences before, during and after the event.
- Pre-event engagement strategies and tools
- Event day engagement strategies and tools
- Post-event engagement strategy and tools
Pre-event engagement strategies and tools
Your event website is the best tool to use to encourage pre-show audience interaction. “Extend the access to your event site or event app platform,” counsels Encore Digital Solutions Product Manager Ryan Sheehan. “Your attendees can have access to sneak-peak content, surveys, even pre-work on the registration site. Going live before your event … allows attendees to learn about your speakers and sessions beforehand. You can generate buzz and by the time the event pulls into the [venue], excitement can be high.”
Gathering data pre-event can also help organizers customize the onsite experience. Encore Director of Sales Engineering-Digital Solutions Rob Wilcox says that pre-event engagement should be part of a multi-pronged and multi-channel marketing approach. “It is an opportunity to listen to your audience with polling and surveys. That helps event organizers gain input that addresses [audience] needs and ‘what’s in it for me.’ It sets the tone and expectations for the event.”
Pre-populating online event websites and app platforms with agendas and other tools that allow participants to plan their ‘personalized’ experience in advance, is another effective way to engage future event audiences. Wilcox recommends that in addition to event sites, organizers should also leverage social media and emails to increase event registration and build buzz and momentum.
Case Study: Using pre-event engagement data to increase the effectiveness of regional road shows
Hughes says that the engagement metrics collected pre-show or during previous shows can be used to increase the effectiveness of future events. One of his clients did this for a series of roadshows they produced.
“The organizers were able to identify what areas of the program and learning were consistently well-understood, and any topics needing more follow-up or support,” Hughes says. “From their data collection, they also realized that there were some regional differences that meant they needed to adjust their approach in those areas.”
The event organizers were able to subtly adjust elements of their program to embrace these regional differences and preferences.
“Their roadshow was particularly successful because the client identified their objectives and understood the data that they wanted to collect in advance of their event, and so were able to build a program that measured what they needed to know.
Event day engagement strategies and tools
During the pandemic, many event organizers relied on online polling and chat tools to engage audiences. The great news is the technologies developed to engage online audiences can be and are being adapted for in-person use.
Sheehan points out that Encore has several digital tools that can provide polling functionality for in-person events. “What you are looking for will determine which solution is best,” he says. “But at a high level, we can integrate polling into your event app, help you design content around digital audience response system tools or even engage your in-person and remote attendees with low-latency streaming.”
Hybrid Latency — the lag time between when something is happening on stage and when it reaches the remote viewing audience — is a huge challenge to engaging hybrid audiences. Current streaming platforms tend to have a latency lag of 40 to 50 seconds. That makes it hard to get remote viewer responses to polls, Q&A and chat responses that sync up to what’s happening in real time for the in-person audience.
“Encore is just about to release a new low latency streaming option, reducing latency delays to around three to five seconds, which will radically change the opportunities for interaction and gives remote attendees a near equitable experience,” Hughes says.
“When using the Chime Live℠ engagement platform’s new ‘Low Latency’ streaming service, we also [can] track an individual’s dwell time, and see who is participating, measuring down into two-minute time blocks. This means that you can see who has watched what, and if at any point there was a significant drop-off.”
Presenters often use polling to keep audiences engaged during presentations. But organizers can use polls to tailor the conference content.
“When you have too many experts or too much content for the time that you have available, you can poll the audience to identify the topics that are of most interest to them – before or during the event – and pick the content most relevant to them and focused on what they want to hear about,” Hughes says. Because adult learners only retain information they’re interested in learning, this technique enhances learning and retention as well as content engagement.
Polls also can be employed to take participants’ ‘pulse’ to measure sentiment throughout the event. “These check-in/check-out questions help the meeting planners understand where they need to focus their message, so that it connects as best as possible with the audience,” Wilcox says. “The last thing you want is to spend a lot of time and effort producing an event only for the message to fall flat.”
Audience engagement tools can also be used during presentations as knowledge checks to gauge the level of understanding on the subject they are presenting on. For example, presenters can ask the audience a question to test how much they know about a topic before diving into it, then test them after to see how much they retained. “This technique can help presenters customize how they deliver the content, which is another win for event participants,” Wilcox says.
Another technology that enhances audience engagement during the event is second-screen technology. “Second screen technology refers to the use of a mobile device to provide an enhanced viewing experience for a television broadcast or live presentation,” Sheehan says.
One technique event organizers can borrow from television producers is to embed the stream with special content that encourages the audience to interact with the stream as they’re viewing it live. An example of this is the ‘Story Sync’ content broadcast alongside “Breaking Bad” episodes during its fifth season. During the broadcast, an icon on the screen let viewers know that there was an Easter egg they could unlock on their mobile device. This special content included behind-the-scenes photos, trivia, interviews, and more.
“The coolest part [of] using second-screen technology, such as iPads, for events is the ability [of] your attendees to pinch and zoom presentation content to get a better look, skip backwards for a moment to catch something they may have missed, and ask questions right in the moment without stepping up to the mic,” Sheehan says.
One of the best examples Sheehan has seen of this was at a client event for doctors. “While facilitating the training, the presenter provided an image of an x-ray used for a diagnosis discussion. The doctors were able to pinch and zoom and get a great look at the x-ray,” he says. “Normally, they would have been limited to what was on a projection screen.”
Case study: Polling event day audiences for input and buy-in
Polling helps everyone at the event have an input and say in decisions that impact them. One client Hughes had wanted to revive and relaunch its company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) policy.
“They wanted to get more buy-in from the staff and collaborate on solutions,” Hughes says. “Teams worked in small groups to come up with ideas at an organizational level, branch level and department level that supported their ESG policy.
Then each team pitched their ideas to the whole group, who used the polling function to rate and prioritize the most appealing and viable solutions.”
Post-event engagement strategy and tools
How do you keep people from forgetting your event? Use a different version of the same strategy you used to engage them prior to the event, Sheehan says.
“Whether your event is fully in-person or mixed with hybrid attendance, you can provide extended access to an event site with cool stuff like archived or on-demand session recordings, PDF copies of speaker presentations, and even post-event debriefs with polling or surveys. To be honest, this is also the perfect time to start teasing about your next event.”
Wilcox points out that if you want to gauge event return on investment (ROI), post-event engagement is just as important as pre-event engagement. “The sales and real work happen after the event, so your post-engagement strategy is key to optimizing your results.” You want to keep the event’s themes and core call to action items front of mind until your next event.
Here are a few examples of how organizers do that:
- Send ‘thank you’ emails to those who attended
- Send ‘sorry we missed you’ emails to those who could not attend with an invite encouraging their attendance next time
- Encourage participants to share feedback through surveys
- Create a post-event page with relevant event highlights and content, key downloadable materials, and a post-event report out
- Create a community forum or other way(s) to facilitate networking beyond the event walls
- Celebrate key successes around high performance relevant to event goals
- Have sales or customer teams personalize their own follow-up/touch-base communications
Don’t forget to analyze the data received from your audience engagement efforts. “Going through post-event survey data to learn how participants felt about the event [will help you] gain insight on how to improve the next one,” Wilcox says.
In addition to the quantitative metrics of event platform dashboards and surveys, incorporate qualitative data, like anecdotal feedback gathered onsite through conversations with event participants, the pulse surveys, chat streams and feedback shared on social media about what participants liked, what went well and what needs improvement.
Case study: Using data to increase post-event revenue
A client using the event platform Chime Live for a product launch wanted to track post-event revenue. The client took the sales team through all the sales aids and support materials using Chime Live to house all the resources.
“Immediately after that session, they used a ‘Chime feedback form’ to ask the 200 attendees to identify three clients that they would pitch the new product to, in the three weeks immediately following the meeting,” Hughes says. “As the attendees had interacted with all the content, and felt confident in the product, it was easy for them to identify and capture 600 opportunities for the new product.
“The organizers had an action plan and immediately hit the market and generated opportunities and revenue as a direct output from that session.”
It’s clear the meeting industry has changed due to the pandemic, and this has a lot to do with the mindset and behavioral changes of event participants. What kind of strategies and tools are you using or planning to use to keep participants engaged at your events going forward? Let us know by commenting below or tagging us @encore on social media.
Are you tired of seeing attendees checking their phones during your event? It’s the surest sign that someone is disengaged from what’s going on. And when one person does it, everyone around them feels a need to do the same. The average person interacts with their phone nearly three times a minute or a staggering 2,617 times a day.
Why are your event attendees disengaging? According to Fast Company, there are several reasons why people might not be paying attention to your presentations, including:
- Difficulty paying attention to both spoken and written words at the same time
- Finding the presentation boring,
- Or not being able to visualize the ideas being presented.
Therefore, how do you nip extracurricular activity in the bud and ensure participants engage with conference content? One of the best ways is to provide them with a dedicated Chime Live℠ enabled iPad.
This solution not only keeps phones out of your attendee hands, but it also elevates the in-room experience by providing multiple ways participants can interact with the event, presenters and each other. Let’s take a look at the boundless possibilities for engagement this technology creates for meeting and event organizers.
Event technology that engages
Chime Live is a mobile event technology platform that delivers real-time conference content, interactive quizzing and polls, and essential event analytics. When attendees walk into a room where an iPad is waiting for them, it immediately makes them feel important. And it lets them know that this is an event that welcomes their participation.
Chime Live-enabled iPads act as a second-screen, and is a perfect in-person event solution, displaying the speaker presentations in an interactive handheld format. Attendees can pinch and zoom each slide to see details, go back to review anything they’ve missed, and take notes on content they want to remember.
By having an iPad in their hands, they’re less tempted to pull a phone out, especially since the iPad allows them to zoom in on what’s being presented. The ability to go back and review or capture the content also aids learning and comprehension. And the technology prevents participants from skipping ahead, so audiences remain focused on what is happening in the room.
The Q&A feature allows attendees to ask questions from the comfort of their seats. This encourages both introverts and extroverts to participate in the conversation. It gives everyone a voice and eliminates the need to wait for a mic to express it.
Additionally, the platform provides presenters with interactive tools, such as polls and quizzes, and heatmaps, which provide an interactive image for participant voting.
For example, presenters can display a world map. As attendees touch the countries they’re hailing from, the heatmap will display color-coded concentrations, with the greatest number reflected in warmer shades and areas of lesser concentration in cooler colors.
Event technology that connects
Networking tools are another compelling reason to utilize the Chime Live event platform for in-person meetings. Chime Live offers features to help your event attendees connect prior, during, and after your live event. Here are ways you can get your attendees to enhance their networking participation:
- After participants create a user profile, they can open the “Connect” feature, which uses a matching algorithm to suggest fellow attendees with shared interests or attributes.
- Event organizers can customize these designations to increase the relevance of these matchmaking suggestions for their group.
- The “messaging” feature then allows participants to contact and connect with people they want to meet.
Event technology that informs
Chime Live-enabled iPads can push out surveys and feedback forms to collect responses from event participants. The Analytics dashboard offers real-time insight into conference activity. Post-event reports also can provide the planner with insights into engagement levels.
One of the benefits of using the Chime Live platform is the full-service Encore event team that comes with it. In addition to helping event organizers develop and execute on their engagement strategy, the Concise team provides planners with an analytics dashboard that displays real-time information on how many participants are turned in, how engaged they are, and what live polling response levels look like. Onsite, Encore technicians push all these interactive elements to the iPads at carefully timed moments to keep attention levels high. If any metrics are lower than expected, the Encore team can cue notifications to boost in-room interaction. Post-event, Encore provides event organizers with in-depth analytics reports.
Interested in creating anticipation, increasing engagement and promoting two-way conversations between conference presenters and participants? Contact us for a free consultation on how Chime Live and iPads can enhance your next event.
Hint: It depends on how much time you have to plan.
You may not have the luxury of a generous planning window to put together your next hybrid event, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have options to bring people together in exciting new ways. In fact, a wealth of high-quality platform solutions exist to help you expand your in-person event reach, connect with new audiences, encourage remote/in-person participant collaboration and engagement. One of the best ways to determine which event platform and how much support you need is to start with how much time you have to plan.
Too pressed for time to shop for an event platform? Encore provides a curated selection of best-in-class solutions, which we’ve highlighted below. (And if you’ve already selected a platform, the Encore team can provide production and/or creative support.)
Here’s our short list of platform solutions for hybrid meetings and events, based on your event lead time. Read on to learn about the boundless possibilities these platform technologies offer.
If you only have 1-2 weeks to plan
Zoom video conferencing is best for small, casual meetings. It’s also often used to stream content, like webinars and concurrent sessions, that is embedded in more dynamic viewing platforms.
This is the go-to hybrid event platform for several good reasons. But even with the slimmest of planning windows, you’ll have a better-quality event if you don’t try to run it off your company’s Zoom license.
What you may not realize is that Zoom comes in three flavors:
- Basic (free) accounts which are bound by a 40-minute time limit and a restricted set of features
- Professional accounts, which companies or individuals purchase to extend meeting times and gain access to more robust features, like webinar registration
- Enterprise accounts, which are only available to companies like Encore
What’s the difference between using your company’s professional Zoom license and using an enterprise Zoom account provided by Encore?
- Multiple licenses are at your disposal, which helps you create educational “tracks” or concurrent streams for your event
- Content can be recorded to the cloud rather than desktop-only
- You don’t have to purchase a new license if your event grows; enterprise licenses can scale to handle groups of 500 or 5,000
Plus, if you go with a full-service event technology provider, like Encore, your event will be supported in real time by a human staff who can troubleshoot and produce a seamless event for you. Another benefit of partnering with Encore is that our team stays on top of the newest third-party Zoom integrations, which means we can point out solutions that you can add to Zoom to increase functionality and enhance participant engagement. To make planning easier, Encore has created a new solution for Hybrid Small Meetings that’s ideal with Zoom and essential technology ready to go — so you can just show us and let us worry about the set up.
If you have at least 3 weeks to plan
Looking for a self-service solution? The Cvent Attendee Hub is best for events that need a way for exhibitors, sponsors and attendees to network and set up 1:1 appointments with each other before they arrive on-site. It also works well for conferences that have multiple sessions and activities.
Cvent Attendee Hub allows you to quickly get your event up and running. Features include:
- Integrated video equipment to create virtual events with live or pre-recorded content
- Engagement features like live Q&A, chat, polling, and feedback surveys to keep sessions interactive
- Meeting scheduling capabilities for groups or individuals so participants, exhibitors, and sponsors can connect and network
- CEU tracking and certificate delivery for professional development education
- Participant tracking to analyze attendee patterns of attendance and survey responses
If you’d rather have a fully-supported quick start event app, you might prefer using Chime Go. Chime Go is a paired down mobile-friendly solution that works well for conference organizers who want to give participants the ability to customize their event schedules.
The Encore team can configure Chime Go in multiple ways to support in-person, virtual and hybrid meetings. Chime Go features a mobile-based agenda and in-room engagement tools, as well as a microsite that can be built around your streaming conference content or hybrid meeting. Benefits include:
- A quick start, branded conference site accessible via mobile or other devices to elevate the attendee experience , with self-registration, agenda, map pdfs, ability for participants to ask questions (customer moderated), upvote other’s questions, and take notes that they can send to themselves. Add-on options include sponsor banners and fundraising links
- A hybrid-ready microsite with all of the above, plus the option to include streaming windows for participants to watch live broadcast or on-demand content. Other options include chat and sentiment stream, closed captioning, Zoom meeting integration , and more
If you have at least 4 weeks to plan
Interested in blending the in-person experience with the digital one? Consider creating a choreographed hybrid experience with Chime Live, a powerful digital storytelling platform. Chime Live works well for high-profile events where you want attendees to feel special. It also is a good fit for events that prioritize two-way conversations between the presenters and the audience, as it provides robust collaboration and engagement tools.
- Pre-event, Chime Live provides a branded registration platform, sponsor areas, social media sharing, and pertinent event information.
- During the event, participants interact with Chime Live via mobile app to view, vote on, submit questions, and interact with conference content.
- Post-event, Chime Live shares insights on participant interactions, submitted questions, and other data
If you have at least 6 weeks to plan
Looking to maximize engagement and impress your audience? Chime Live is ideal if you have at least a six-week planning window. These Chime Live engagement add-ons enhance the in-person and remote elements of events by providing a deeper way for presenters to connect with the audience, and for event participants to customize their event experience. You’ll receive all the bells and whistles mentioned above, plus:
- Choreographed event design to focus attendees on what they need to see or do in the platform by pushing slides and pop-up interactive polls, Q&A, and more, in real time
- Customized user interfaces for in-person and remote experiences
- Personalized journeys featuring segmented or integrated experiences and customized agendas to support your organization and participants’ objectives
Another option is the Cvent Attendee Hub platform, which you can transform into a full-service solution by engaging the Encore team to help . The Encore team can support you during the design, set-up, and production phase. It’s a great choice for larger events, especially if you want to maximize engagement and let professionals manage the technology for you. In addition to the bells and whistles with the self-service option, the full-service version offers:
- Worry-free tech set-up, streaming and production support, provided by the Encore team
- Integrated Cvent registration
- On-demand viewing functionality
- Customized attendee hub configured to suit your needs
If you have more than 8 weeks to plan
Consider leveraging all the above-mentioned perks of the Chime Live platform and elevating the experience for your remote attendees by adding a virtual lobby that allows them to “physically” interact with each other and content at the event through avatars. This functionality works well with global expositions, conferences and trade shows that need to provide an interactive online environment that is as compelling for its remote participants as for its in-person ones.
Create an immersive 2-D or 3-D virtual environment that recreates elements familiar to in-person conferences, such as lobbies, theaters, virtual trade show booths and networking lounges with Notified from Intrado. This platform accommodates large events and exhibitions and is a fantastic choice for events attracting a large number of remote attendees. Benefits of the platform include:
- Broadcast studio-quality streaming
- AI-driven matchmaking software and video chat options
- Sponsorship packages
- Custom-branded areas
- Full-service creative, production and design assistance from the Encore team
If you have more than 12 weeks to plan
If Notified by Intrado is on your list, and you have a three-month window before the event, you can add an integrated registration option to the immersive elements mentioned above. These options work very well for virtual expos and conferences.
It’s no secret that conference content not only drives attendance, but it also generates on-site brand publicity through social media engagement and can generate significant post-event revenue. If you have a generous planning window of at least 12 weeks, you should consider hiring a content development team to design, source and produce different elements of your conference content. Encore offers Creative services that can:
- Design presentation templates and create presentations
- Transform your brand logo into an animated asset
- Produce short and long-format video segments and interstitial video “stingers” to introduce speakers, promote sponsors and highlight event elements before, during and after the event
- Create motion graphics and animations to spice up in-person and broadcast content
- Coach speakers and ghost-write executive speeches
- Capture images and video on-site
Encore can also provide on-site presentation management with Content1, a fully supported system for collecting and distributing presentation files to meeting spaces at events. Presenters can upload their presentations from their home or office pre-event, then check into our Speaker Ready Room on-site for final revisions, uploads, and review.
Presentations are automatically transferred to the meeting rooms and delivered from a single, customized computer, ensuring the final revision is presented without delays during the meeting.
Where do you fall on this spectrum?
Has this guide helped you select a potential hybrid event platform? Or are you still wondering what the best options are for your event? Encore is happy to help. We offer free consultations. Even if you’ve selected an event platform, we can consult with you on how to elevate your event. Connect to an Encore team member here.
To help you remember the different platform solutions, we created this infographic you can download and keep with you.
Platform solutions by lead times
One of the easiest ways to select a hybrid event platform is by how much time you have to organize it. Here’s what we suggest. If you want help selecting a platform, or need assistance setting up and running one you’ve already selected, Encore can help, too. Get in touch for a free consultation.
When you’re broadcasting content during a hybrid or virtual meeting, there’s a lot that can go wrong. Why would you want to start with a set-up that’s doomed to fail? If you’re depending on Wi-Fi internet, that’s exactly what you’re doing.
“For hybrid, the success of the meeting is dependent on having a good internet experience,” says Alex Wedesky, Encore Director of Internet Operations. “You need a more reliable connection to hinge your meeting on.” That’s why wired internet solutions are superior to Wi-Fi ones when you’re producing a hybrid event.
The downside to Wi-Fi
Why does relying on a Wi-Fi connection make your meeting vulnerable?
- Even a small group of people can have an intense internet demand, and Wi-Fi forces your meeting to share bandwidth with all the devices in the space.
- The stability of your connection could be jeopardized by a group of people outside your room, if they have devices that are trying to connect to your Wi-Fi network.
- The strength of a Wi-Fi network’s signal relies on the number of radios in the space that act as access points, how old they are, how old or new the device you’re using to connect to the internet is, the number of people connecting to the same network and your distance from the access point.
Using a wired internet connection eliminates all these disruptive elements, Wedesky says. Plus, it provides greater peace of mind.
“Free is not always the best option,” Wedesky says. “Free often means unsupported. You can’t troubleshoot free stuff.” Paying for a wired connection gives you a real-time support team whose job is to make sure your event isn’t interrupted by internet glitches.
Questions for event technology providers
Wedesky recommends meeting and event professionals ask the following questions to guarantee they secure the best possible internet solution for their hybrid event.
- Is there wired internet in the space?
- Can the venue provide the right bandwidth for your meeting?
- Will you be sharing bandwidth with other events happening at the same time?
- Does the venue have a failover or backup solution?
You want to be able to secure your camera and laptops to a wired internet line. Having a dedicated pool of bandwidth guarantees you’ll have the exact amount of bandwidth you need, and it will not ebb or collapse as other connected parties join. Finally, networks are no more reliable than cell phones. If yours goes down, you don’t want your participants’ screens to go blank. That’s why every event needs a failover or backup solution, even if your internet is on a wired connection.
Tiered internet solutions
Think of the internet as a highway. When a lot of people get on the road, you end up with a traffic jam. But, if you’re able to ride in the HOV lane, you can quickly bypass any hold-ups.
In terms of tiered internet solutions, using a Wi-Fi network or sharing bandwidth with other events is like being on a highway. You may not have any issues. Or you might find yourself at a standstill as demand clogs the road. The cost savings might not justify the risks. These types of connections are available at 3MB and 5MB speeds, which are adequate for streaming content, but may not be able to handle complex demands, like video playback and product demonstrations.
Want your own HOV lane? Talk to your event technology provider about dedicating bandwidth to your event with a wired internet connection. To provide this service, they will construct a VLAN network specific to your group inside the venue’s larger network. This dedicated connection also offers perks that can enhance the experience and provide additional monetization opportunities, such as:
- Customized/company-branded network name
- Splash page with customized content (e.g., terms and conditions, COVID policy, etc.)
- Automatic redirect to a target site, such as a company homepage or product offering, after participants log in
The benefits of working with an end-to-end event solution
“Overall, if Encore is providing all services, there are efficiencies we can add in,” Wedesky says. For example, being able to increase the amount of bandwidth if the meeting is approaching its limit to keep the broadcast stream from hiccupping.
Another perk Encore provides is a cellular back-up solution that can be ported into any facility. If anything happens to the internet connection, the cellular solution adds a layer of safety and comfort around the meeting and ensures it stays online.
“Encore also uses a content distribution network for most of our hybrid broadcasts. That can lower the bandwidth demand in some instances.”
Working with an all-in-one team like Encore also means that you’re eliminating some of the problems inherent when you work with multiple vendors.
“We can communicate with each other and know exactly how to get your content from capture to broadcast, Wedesky says. “Plus, there’s lots of great data we can capture when Encore is providing the total solution.”
Encore offers a variety of wired internet connection options to help meet your event’s needs. Speak to one of our professionals to learn more today!
A Signature Hybrid Event
Encore partnered with PCMA to produce Convening Leaders 22, a signature annual conference for association professionals who produce large-scale events. For PCMA’s in-person experience, the Encore Production team designed all the sets and spaces – from the mainstage and concurrent session rooms to the Promenade area, which served as a central gathering spot for networking, sales conversations, education, and communal meals. They also constructed a broadcast studio PCMA could use to pre-record content and stream live interviews to the remote viewing audience.
The Encore Creative team designed the presentation graphics, lower thirds, and branding for PCMA’s live and broadcast content. In addition to providing technical and production support for the in-room experience, the Encore Technology team filmed, mixed and broadcast content from the conference to PCMA’s streaming partner. Encore also brought in a couple of its specialty divisions – Hargrove from Encore and CSI – to augment different elements of the 360-degree experience they created.
PCMA likes to raise the bar on what they present every year. After all, producing events for event professionals isn’t easy. Adding to the complexity is the fact this is the first year Encore partnered with PCMA to produce this event. And the timeline was condensed. Encore had four rather than eleven months to shake things up and do things differently.
- Create a feeling of intimacy and connection between the audience and the speakers/entertainers
- Facilitate authentic and profitable connections between sponsors and event participants
- Design an open-air space that could facilitate conversations as well as sponsor activations, meals and educational stages
To bring the audience closer to the presenters and entertainers, Encore designed a central mainstage with a low runway that allowed the talent to “walk into” the audience. Encore also built a side stage for PCMA to utilize for entertainment and more traditional announcements. This side stage ended up providing a dynamic solution to a last-minute challenge. A week before load-in, the Wednesday keynote notified PCMA that they could not travel and could only present virtually. Not content with “zooming in” such an important person, Encore installed technology and lighting on the side stage that allowed the speaker to present as a hologram. And the stage’s position allowed the Encore team to “hide” the set up until the big reveal.
Encore strategically designed its display technology to up the excitement factor as participants walked into the mainstage space by placing LED welcome columns in a triangular formation. This not only provided branding opportunities, but it also funneled traffic around central camera positions, creating a more appealing entranceway. Some of the unique audiovisual features included digital scenic elements constructed of curved LED lights, a mixture of traditional (16:9) and nontraditional aspect ratios (3:1), LED strip lights, and concert-quality audio.
One of the biggest design challenges Encore faced was how to accommodate concurrent communal meals, sponsor activations and educational stages in the massive Promenade area. The primary issue would be noise that could negatively impact the quality of sponsor activations, casual networking opportunities and learner engagement. Encore solved this problem by providing headsets. These headsets allowed Encore to mic speakers but transmit the audio directly to wireless headsets. That eliminated any sound bleed over from the stages in the space. The headsets also filtered out ambient noise from hallway conversations. It was an elegant way to allow participants to decide if they wanted to network with others over a meal, interview potential vendors, catch up with friends, or attend an educational session – all within the same open-air space.
Among the sponsor activations in the Promenade was an Encore booth. It was the first major opportunity for Encore to introduce event professionals to its new brand identity and expanded capabilities. The Encore Creative department designed the booth and collaborated with Hargrove to build and execute it. A dynamic exterior design lured participants inside, where they discovered interactive displays and a comfortable environment in which they could connect and refresh while learning about Encore’s end-to-end event solutions.
PCMA Convening Leaders 22 attracted more than 2,500 event professionals from around the world. After witnessing the opening session with Paula Abdul, the silent stage set-up, the digital presentation graphics, and dynamic Encore activation, participants kept asking, “Did Encore really do all of that?”
The partnership provided a fantastic opportunity for Encore and its Hargrove and CSI divisions to showcase the diversity of the creative, production, and technology services it offers to an audience that’s hard to surprise. A behind-the-scenes element powered by Encore backstage tours ensured PCMA Digital Event Strategists were able to augment their training with hands-on examples.
Overall, the experience deepened Encore and PCMA’s commitment to expand on the promise of partnership for future events.
Encore PCMA ’22 Video Highlights: