At Taoti, we are creative problem solvers and our clients come to us to come up with innovative solutions to replace their essential in-person events with virtual events. Most of these conversations are focused on events held in the spring or early summer of 2020. However, events further in the future towards the end of summer or fall are often viewed through a “we are going to wait and see” approach. I am rarely an absolutist, but I believe every event in 2020 needs a virtual attendance option.
We think it is essential that each event prioritizes inclusivity and accessibility. There is no trusted model showing the COVID-19 virus disappearing entirely until a new vaccine is developed, tested and widely disseminated. This means that even as life returns to normal for many people, the immunocompromised and elderly will continue to be at higher risk and are unlikely to return to large group settings like meetings and conferences enthusiastically.
Also, anyone who lives with their family or roommates fears becoming an entry point to COVID-19. Everyone must have access to the information and interaction provided by meetings, whether that is a small training session, an annual conference, or a public hearing.
It is time to communicate a clear plan for your virtual attendees.
Every event organizer needs to be communicating a plan for both an entirely virtual and hybrid conference for each event through fall 2020. This includes providing information like:
- The event will go on!
- The event will include a virtual option, even if the in-person conference goes on.
- The price difference (if any) for virtual vs. in-person
- The features of the virtual option with bonus points if you can add some exclusive virtual components like a 5-minute virtual one-on-one.
One of the areas event organizers are most concerned about is their sponsors. By “waiting and seeing,” they are hoping that everything can snap back to the way it was and the large sponsorship fees will stay in place. With both the economy staggering and opt-out clauses in many contracts, we think it is time to move aggressively to secure sponsorship for your events.
How do I drive value for my sponsors?
We are currently developing sponsorship packets for events that show how event sponsors will be featured in a hybrid or virtual event. This includes custom intro or outro videos that can be added to virtual panels or webinars, live-reads akin to what you might hear on a podcast, and even a virtual exhibit hall.
We are also encouraging our clients to think differently. Can we mail a custom branded box with swag? Can we incentivize attendees to do product demos with our sponsors by offering custom content or experiences? How about awarding sponsor-branded participation prizes?
Virtual events certainly have their share of challenges for sponsorship agreements, but they also provide an incredible opportunity to engage participants in a way that they have not previously experienced. Creative ideas like the ones posited above are the key to not only retaining sponsors but driving additional value for them as an incentive for their participation. How do I keep all my attendees?
Uncertainty is not helping. People want to know what they can expect and how much it will cost. They also want the option to change their mind if things change. Crystal clear communication works best when it comes to pricing and features of both in-person and virtual options. Also, a definite back-out date for folks to feel good about signing up. Any friction that is in your attendees’ decision-making process should be removed.
We also want to think differently. We are less than a month into physical distancing and many of us are already growing tired of staring at these little boxes full of people. We are helping to create new, innovative ideas for our clients. For one of our clients, we have been ideating around a virtual fly-in event for legislative advocacy. Some ideas include:
- Early risers breakfast with the president – an informal virtual coffee chat with the organization’s president before the day starts
- BYOBB / “Bring Your Own Breakfast Briefing” – a fun twist on their standard briefing with bonus points for the best breakfast option
- Virtual one-on-ones – replacing traditional congressional visits with virtual video conferences with a mail-to home-option
- Livestreaming panel discussion – a prerecorded panel discussion (including sponsor or organization promotional information) followed by a live QA
- Debrief virtual happy hour – a fun event to talk about the successes and challenges of the day with a beverage of your choice served with a branded koozie.
- Feedback surveys – professionally designed surveys to get feedback on the day and the policymakers’ response.
By combining fun, informal opportunities with serious sessions, both group and one-on-one, we can help mimic the event in a way that doesn’t seek to recreate one-for-one the in-person event, but adjusts to the new reality of doing business.
How can we help?
Taoti Creative can help with your organizations’ challenges and execute your event. This includes:
- Livestream and Pre-Recorded Sessions
- Live Feedback / Q&A / Polling
- Microsite / Web Integration
- Video Conferencing / Production / Editing
- Sponsor Packets
- Ad Design
- Stats and Reporting
- Event Branding
- Social Media Strategy
- Invitation Systems
- Drop-Shipped Participant Care Packages
- Real-Time Website Updates
- Social Media Management
- Session Facilitation
- Participant Networking