If you had a crystal ball, what would show in terms of live events? Smaller, regional meetings? Spread-out seating to encourage social distancing?
It’s too early to predict what all the implications of COVID-19 will be. But one thing that many seem to be in agreement on: when live events do resume, attendance will still be impacted by COVID-19. Reasons could include personal concerns, limited travel budgets or work obligations.
What does this mean for live events? The easy answer, of course, is lower attendance numbers. But it also means there must be a focus on sharing conference content in different ways.
Using cost-effective digital publishing tools to share content will increase your ROI. Social media, along with a daily digital publication and email newsletter, are some of the tools available to conference organizers.
- Sharing a combination of session previews and recaps, association news and highlights from the exhibit hall will help non-attendees feel included, and benefit remotely.
- Digital publishing tools also provide ways to share content with market segments that you may not have reached in the past.
- Hold TwitterChats, either during or after the conference, to connect attendees with non-attendees. Exchanging ideas through networking is another benefit of live events. Social platforms, while not a substitute, can also be used to encourage discussion.
For virtual attendees:
- Industry experts expect to see a rise in hybrid conferences, with organizers providing virtual learning opportunities for those unable to attend. But it will be unlikely that all sessions will be streamed, and live streaming times may not always work for someone’s schedule.
- Also, it’s important to just not hit “play” – there should be exclusive content for your virtual attendees. This could include Q&A sessions with speakers, video tours of the exhibit hall, etc.
For exhibitors and sponsors:
- Traffic in the exhibit hall will most likely be lighter, if attendance numbers are lower. Provide opportunities for your industry supporters to reach non-attendees through cost-effective digital advertising placements.
- Advertising placements can include advertorials (case studies, articles, etc.), email banner ads and product listings.
This year, more than ever, it is important to reach those unable to attend. They still want to hear about topics covered in education sessions, learn more about what exhibitors are featuring and organization news. As you plan your conference programming, consider non-attendees – if you reach them remotely this year, they may plan to attend your event in-person next year.