In 2020, we’ve seen a massive shift in how events are being managed and delivered.
For event managers today, it’s no longer just about providing content such as a series of talks, sessions or seminars, it’s also about the attendee experience.
Event planning technologies have played a crucial role in these developments; tools such as online ticketing, remote registration and real-time interpretation have all added to the overall experience.
The more event managers are able to cater to the needs of attendees and provide them with ways to better engage, the more valuable and memorable the event will be.
And that’s just it. The focus now is on improving attendee engagement. The success of an event isn’t measured just by how many people attend but also whether those people felt involved.
According to our 2020 Event Industry Trends report, of the 106 event managers we surveyed, more than three-quarters (78%) highlighted that attendees expect new ways of interacting with each other and speakers.
But what methods should event managers be considering in 2020?
1. Chat and connect with attendees and speakers
During the online event, attendees want to be able to communicate with each other, ask questions and engage with speakers. They want to get answers to their questions, actively participate (rather than just listen) and make new connections.
To achieve this, some events set up chat groups via communication applications, such as Slack, or have their own dedicated chat solution. This enables attendees to readily communicate with each other (whether it’s to talk about the event, ask questions or connect) and for event managers and speakers to provide answers or updates in real time.
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2. Real-time personalization
Not only does real-time chat improve engagement, it also provides event managers with crucial insight; they can see the questions attendees have and how they felt about the event. This information can then be used to personalize aspects of the event (i.e. what updates and content the attendee receives) for attendees.
According to our research report, almost two-thirds of event managers (64%) agree that events are far more diverse than they were five years ago. More and more people from different backgrounds are coming together to learn, share and collaborate.
And audiences will only continue to diversify—but all too often, events are offered in a single language or fail to consider the audience’s diversity.
But what does this mean for event managers? Diversity and inclusion are necessary, so event managers need to ensure attendees feel included and engaged.
4. Remove language barriers
To increase event attendance and reception, removing barriers to entry is crucial.
When we talk about “barriers to entry,” we don’t mean physical barriers, we mean language options and the diversity of speakers. For example, let’s say the speakers for an event only speak English, but people from Germany, France and Spain want to attend because they believe the content is valuable.
In this instance, the event manager needs to provide real-time translation services so that non-English-speaking attendees can participate, too. If prior to registration potential attendees see that the content will be offered in their native language, they’ll be much more likely to sign up.
That said, many event managers are reluctant to hire interpreters for their events—not because they don’t want to but because of prohibitive costs. According to our report, almost half (46%) stated that their biggest challenge when organizing interpreter services was the cost.
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5. Expert speaker panel
It’s important to avoid unconscious bias in the speaker selection process. Consider doing it “blind”; this means evaluating speaker proposals without any kind of identifying information attached.
This should lead to speakers being chosen on the merit of their work, rather than their nationality, background, sexual orientation, age or gender, and put a greater emphasis on the quality of content.
Attendees don’t just want to hear from five men of the same nationality, background and age—they want to hear a range of opinions. If attendees see a varied speaker panel, they’ll be more likely to attend. The more diverse the speaker panel, the more experiences and opinions offered.