5 Ways to Keep Virtual and Hybrid Events Top of Mind With Audiences

January 25, 2023

Event marketing looks different than it did three years ago. Virtual and hybrid events have proven their merit and reset attendee expectations. Yet, for all the changes, one fact has remained consistent: It doesn’t matter if an event is offline or online. What matters is the experience it provides.

Many event marketers forget this truth; they assume that events have to “wow” attendees in every way. Unsurprisingly, event marketers panic because they don’t have the resources to keep up with these imagined standards. But although audiences might be awed by expensive theatrics, technology and pizzazz, they’re really looking for good content.

Attendees want to walk away from an event feeling inspired and energized. And in the Zoom era, people want to feel as connected to online and hybrid events as they were to in-person ones. So, stop emphasizing the bells and whistles. When it comes to online events, you need to put the attendee experience first. Here’s how:

1. Pick an event theme and run with it.

Your event needs to have a purpose, which will ultimately be your theme. The most compelling themes make statements in the marketplace. They’re not just cute or clever. They’re transformational and pioneering.

Online audiences will click out of events if they’re bored. A strong theme gives them a reason to invest in the event and stick around until the last moment. All the dazzle in the world can’t compare with an event theme that challenges attendees’ viewpoints or allows them to see things differently.

2. Promote your event for a long time.

You need a long promotional runway to get people to commit to online events. The more emails, texts and other marketing content you push out, the better. Try promoting “early bird specials” and “last-minute deals” to drive excitement.

Virtual events have low barriers to entry. However, they also have low barriers to exit. This means you must constantly remind attendees why they can’t miss the great experience you have planned. As long as you deliver on your promises, you’ll begin to amass a loyal following of fans who will attend other events you host.

3. Try marketing via the podcast circuit.

You might be hesitant to promote in-person events through podcasts. After all, it’s tough to convince a podcast listener to spend company money, fly somewhere and lose days of work. But for online events? Podcast marketing is golden.

Podcast marketing allows you to target people who already consume virtual content. Reaching audiences through a thought leader they trust boosts the chances they’ll check out your event. You can get the word out and fill your virtual room as long as you know which podcasts your audience listens to. 

4. Line up some heavy hitters.

To get people to attend your online event, you need impressive speakers. This includes big names as well as people who are adept at addressing virtual audiences. You want headliners who will make your online event a standout experience.

Look for speakers who shifted their strategies during the pandemic. For example, my friend Todd Hartley, CEO of WireBuzz, wasn’t a remote speaker before the pandemic. However, he transitioned his game and spent money to enhance his tech setup so he could be a headliner for online and hybrid events. Today, he’s spoken at some of the biggest virtual stage venues. He’s become an overall better speaker, too. 

5. Create a post-event plan.

What ensures the success of an online experience? Post-event communication. Keeping people looped in even after the event ends is the key to maintaining momentum and nurturing leads. Content Marketing World does this well. The company put together some of the best post-event plans I’ve seen for a virtual event.

You have to ask yourself, “How do I engage people that might or might not have attended the full event?” Remember: It’s likely fewer people will attend your virtual event. Make sure that those who do attend feel their money was well spent.

Online event capabilities have improved drastically these past few years. However, it’s not the tech that will make or break your online or hybrid event. It’s the overall experience. By following these five tips, you can create a digital event that successfully engages attendees in the next normal.


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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.