11 Tips for Planning Your Next In-Person Event
2022 saw a lot of changes in the event industry, none bigger than the return of in-person events. Now that these in-person conferences, meetings, and exhibitions are finally back, you’ll need to decide what elements of virtual events can benefit the live experience and how best to incorporate your new-found digital knowledge into traditional event management – all while navigating pandemic safety and audience comfort levels. Not an easy task, but there are some things to keep in mind that will make your life easier.
1. Make Virtual a Pre-Event Force
We learned a great deal about the possibilities of technology the last two years. With in-person events returning, it’s the perfect opportunity to put those learnings to use.
- Continue to take advantage of the digital strengths you use in everyday business such as email, social media channels, and virtual meetings.
- Create pre-show topic discussions and networking “coffee breaks” that begin the networking opportunities and engagement.
- Use your event platform to connect attendees with similar interests before, during and after your event.
- Connect attendees with similar interests.
- Connect attendees with relevant sponsors and exhibitors.
2. Take Interactivity Up a Notch
Attendees are used to getting their information digitally, so leverage all your digital touchpoints by stepping up your content in a variety of forms before your event. Start brainstorming early and develop content for all three stages of the funnel using content that includes prizes, and both pre-show and in-show perks:
- 360° Experience
- Data Visualization
- Interactive social programs
- Polls & Quizzes
- Interactive Infographics
- Live Streaming
- Ebooks & White Papers
3. Turn Virtual Concepts into In-Person Audience Builders
Hold micro-events that begin cultivating interest. Invite speakers to attend – it’s a no-brainer to help add to their own personal event within your larger event. It begins the engagement and interest for your speakers and not only increases pre-show networking but enhances show attendance.
4. Up-to-Date Contract Terms
Make sure your venue offers cancellation and postponement terms that allow you to keep some or all of you funding should your event be cancelled or delayed. You’ll also want increased event insurance and a force majeure clause to include pandemic-related events.
5. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Always adopt a community-first approach. Proactively create backup plans and scenarios, then clearly communicate those plans to the entire event community in advance.
- Draft a pre-mortem with scenarios of possible problems and how you’ll pivot if one (or more) come to pass.
- Create and communicate contingency plans with your event community so there are no surprises.
- Prepare to go virtual or hybrid if needed and have an event platform that can handle it ready.
6. Adjust for Post-Pandemic Comfort
Can you plan to eliminate all risks? Not possible. In-person events, however, can certainly prepare for potential challenges. Depending on your event, corporate policies, local & state laws and regulations, thinking about potential risk-mitigating rules can help ease everyone’s minds:
- Proof of vaccination requirements
- Wearing masks in indoor spaces
- Rapid covid testing availability
- Touchless registration and event interactions
- Automatic doors
- Motion-sensor toilet facilities
7. Make Your Communications Clear
Post your health and safety requirements on your event website and proactively use email and social media to keep everyone up to date. Make sure your audience is aware of any contingency plans you have in place, and if you need to activate one of those plans, let them know. Post clear signage at your event so there’s no confusion when it comes to navigating the experience from start to finish.
8. Make Sure You Plan Enough Space for Social Distancing
Some attendees will be uncomfortable getting up close and personal. Offer in-person guests color-coded bracelets. Attendees can see one another’s comfort level with physical contact while networking without the need for any awkward conversations or personal discomfort.
9. Make Masking a Branded Affair
If you’ll ask your on-site attendees to mask up, think about making it a cool, branded swag experience. It’s a unique opportunity to give a gift and help your attendees remember your in-person event.
10. Touchless Technology
Incorporate technology for a significantly increased contactless event. Use the touchless digital check-in technology, simplifying and streamlining the process.
- Create an app with a downloadable schedule and brochures
- Encourage and use your app to facilitate digital business cards
- Have scannable QR codes instead of handing out paper tickets
- Take food and beverage orders digitally upon registration
11. Add Social Walls to Your Event
These are a great transitional piece to use as part of your in-person event. We’re all used to seeing and reading reactions via social media for virtual events, so let your in-person attendees continue to react via social in a way where all attendees can participate. You can also add gamification to your event as well.
In any and every event, an event management platform will add value to your event whether it’s in-person, hybrid, or virtual. It will also help you pivot in the event of unforeseen circumstances. It will allow you to manage your entire event from pre-event communications to post-event data and analysis and every step and need in between – and do it with flexibility.
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