Laura Palmer, Global Project Manager at ConferenceDirect®, and I recently had the opportunity to collaborate on a large scale, in-person event. Here, we reflect on key takeaways as in-person events are on the rise — but not as we anticipated two years ago.
There is a general air of positivity around the return of in-person events; staff and attendees alike are experiencing a shared sense of appreciation and grace.
At the pre-conference meeting, Laura shared that the venue had added two people to their event staff, expressly stating that “they were so thankful to be back working in events and said that this conference was directly related to their hires.”
We also noted the excitement between attendees; during registration, attendees had the choice between green, yellow or red lanyards to signify their willingness for close contact. Roughly 66% (2/3) of attendees chose green.
This social aspect of in-person events is revealing a depth to connections that people have been missing. We’ve heard from conference organizers in particular that these events are sometimes the only opportunity that allows attendees to meet and spend time together — socially and professionally.
Unfortunately, heightened anticipation and appreciation are not going to deliver the wow factor for attendees. As in-person events are on the rise, so too are contingency plans. There is still a lot of uncertainty in the air coupled with logistical challenges, and planners are having to be prepared with a number of back-up plans.
From supply chain issues to soaring fuel, labor, and material costs, event production is being challenged in new ways. Added to this, Laura mentioned that “groups who paused programming during the last two years are now seeing added marketing spend to rebuild their audience”. Across multiple events, early registrations are reportedly significantly lower, but in-person numbers are ultimately meeting or exceeding expectations.
Overall, we’re looking at more layers of planning with a flexible approach to resources that would be welcome if it weren’t for the already strained supply chain.
Innovation is still the theme of the day as planners prepare to custom-fit solutions for each group; with this, we are faced with potential pitfalls to improvise and save the day for our clients.
Our recent conference planned for creating a concurrently running in-person and virtual event. Each track was selected strategically and deliberately to work well for the virtual audience while minimizing the streaming of in-person content; this helped to make sure that the experience was engaging and relevant for both groups of attendees. For example:
- They acknowledged award winners and contributions of specific members over the last few years during the plenary programming but without traditional long award presentations and acceptances. This was accomplished by offering a brief acknowledgement of contributions during the session, while inviting the winners themselves to a champagne toast and professional photograph of their winning moment directly after the session.
- A surprise addition to this in-person conference, that we typically wouldn’t see, was the feature of Zoom rooms. During the planning stages, we found that a number of speakers scheduled to present virtually were attending the conference in person; we created rooms on-site complete with virtual presentation stations. Voila! Speakers were able to present and return to the in-person activities.
This type of concurrent planning requires an added level of consideration for the planner, and is made easy with a dash of help from your friendly AV tech.
Overall, this is still an unprecedented time; as an industry, we’re working through it together with more meaningful partnerships and the appreciation that goes along with it.
If you know you know, and if you don’t — reach out today. Our partnering ability is built to last.