The year 2020 is the year of the black swan for many industries. Among the companies that have suffered the most are those organizing events
People, who worked for instance on conferences, faced a tough choice of what to do when it was impossible to follow the schedule of the year.
Many of these ambiguous organizers and activists did not take this into account. The alternative turned out to be virtual summits or hybrid events. A good example of the latter is Wolves Summit. Interestingly, it turns out that more participants then use the online version, giving up the possibility of traditional participation.
Seemingly a perfect replacement, but it also brings some challenges. Both organizers and participants.
As Hotailors, we have taken part in business travel and startup conferences many times. We won even the prize for the best pitch in the category Future Tech.
When we got an invitation to exhibit at SAP Concur Conference, we decided to get prepared and put as much effort into it as if it was an offline event.
Excellent advice for organizers on the example of the SAP conference.
An enormous challenge in organizing remote events is the involvement of participants. It is much more difficult to build a bond and get their full attention if they just stay in front of their screens. It is very easy to just jump to the next window when they lose interest for a moment.
Therefore, as an organizer, you need to prepare for it.
SAP Concur used gamification for this purpose.
If you were present during the session – you got some points.
If you visited the partner’s stand – you got more points.
You talked with your partner – even more points.
What could you do with points?
Certain prizes may not be attractive to many people. Especially from the business world.
Here, the motivation was to plant new trees, which is something important for many conscious people.
A brilliant solution.
In addition, it was important to remind participants about this initiative in the place, where they are active. At the SAP concur, this place was, among others, LinkedIn. Organizers also used e-mail marketing for this purpose.
Good practices for participants – startups – exhibitors on the example of Hotailors
We noticed that many exhibitors think that all they have to do is to appear at the event, and the organizer will provide them with leads that will be easy to close later.
We assume that taking part in an outstanding event is vital to have results. However, this is not enough.
That is why we engaged most of the sales and marketing teams to massive efforts.
1.We have posted an update on my LinkedIn profile, in which we informed that we will be present at the event. We also checked which people from my contact network who clicked that they will be at the event and we started a conversation with them in the comments.
2. Day of the event.
Mobilization of the full team. Our own, independent channel for instant communication (we used Slack!) We decided that there must be a host in our stand, all the time during the event.
When the guest visited us:
- One business developer greeted him in the room
- A marketer did research based on the available data
- Another business developer started talking to this person through other channels if something interrupted the communication — we were eager to use the private chat option
This way, we achieved the result of several dozen leads, which positively surprised us.
The opposite happened when there was no one waiting in the other stands.
3. The next step is to use other opportunities to interact after the event
Apart from continuing communication with people you met, you can also use other channels to reach other participants, e.g. the official forum of the event. There, our thread was all the time on the top (but only thanks to the substantive answers).
I also published a post on my profile in which I summed up the Summit, using the appropriate # and tagging the organizers and people to whom we owed our participation. We must remember that our participation in such events is not only about catching customers for a short while but also building long-term relationships and position on the market.
Will virtual summits permanently replace offline conferences?
In our opinion, no. Working at home entails many inconveniences, such as distractors and the difficulty of separating free time from work.
Going to a conference in another city or country allows you to focus on the event. In addition, you can build a bond with a newly met person faster. It takes 3 hours of virtual contact to build a relationship that you build during a 5-minute conversation.
That is why we know that as soon as the offline events are possible again, they will be organized (as we have seen in recent months in many countries).
At the same time, we encourage you to make the most of what is available at the moment. If your only option is to meet others at a virtual summit, fully commit yourself. No matter if you are there an organizer, partner, or participant.