Dave Wuethrich, Chief Operating Officer at Convention Data Services, has more than 20 years of experience providing client services, registration management, data cultivation and integrated solutions for show managers.
Four Things to Consider When Planning for Omnichannel Events
It’s all the buzz lately – hybrid or omnichannel events. Programs and mindsets continuously shift as planners begin to weave together a hybrid event strategy and relaunch in-person experiences. Here are four things to consider as you map out your hybrid planning:
Review Your Registration Standards
As part of the advance registration process, consider updating your terms and conditions to educate all attendees as to what protocols and behaviors will be enforced on-site. It is best practice to review any of your anticipated procedures for enforcement with your own legal counsel to ensure compliance. Areas you might want to consider including in advance registration terms and conditions may include: following all posted rules surrounding social distancing mask-wearing or prohibition of handshakes, etc. Clarity and increased communication will set expectations for attendees, amp up their confidence if participating in-person and lead to a smoother onsite execution. There is no such thing as overcommunication!
Give Your Footprint a Facelift
On-site operation changes and new protocols, like physical distancing and health screenings, will likely impact previous floor plans. Evaluate how you want people to move about onsite before you create your new layouts. You can set the stage for their journey to help you control density in each area.
Some things to consider: Will you establish traffic flows? Stagger entry times? Will you not allow entry without a wellness check? Will you set up a testing area? Will you move registration away from the convention center and sprinkle it throughout the host city?
Offer contactless onsite registration options like digital badges, print-from-home and self-serve badge pickup. These allow attendees to skip a registration area altogether.
Keep an Eye on your Exhibitors
Most exhibitors will showcase their brands virtually and in person, so make it easy on them. Ensure that they have one login to set up their virtual booth, even if you are using multiple systems. Also ensure that their lead data is stored in one area, regardless of if the leads were captured virtually or in-person.
Also, consider equipping them with a contactless way to share their company and product literature onsite. Attendees can self-serve scan a QR code in an exhibitor’s booth to collect the information they came to the show to gather while keeping a safe distance from exhibiting staff. Remember, exhibitor ROI is an integral factor in their repeat attendance at your event, so keep your eye on this group.
Use Data to Acquire Key Attendees
Planning for hybrid will redefine how we look at our year-over-year event data. Here are a few data sets you will want to look at as you develop your event marketing strategy:
- Review attendance by geography: An increase in distance to your in-person event may correlate with a decrease in attendance. Focus on marketing to registrants within a two-hour drive time to your convention center. Your local attendees could be your most important group for the time being. Consider teaming up with your convention center or city to provide parking passes for those driving in.
- Get to know your alumni: Like most events, attendance comprises a mix of first-time attendees and returning attendees. It is crucial you study and understand your alumni’s habits as you will need the attendance and participation to reach your attendance goals. Try surveying your alumni to gauge who is planning to attend in-person and virtual. Consider a no-fault cancellation policy for your in-person program, allowing your alumni a level of comfort that will hopefully lead to an early registration commitment.
- Track top companies: Corporate travel policies have changed since the pandemic began and will continue to adjust as vaccinations and treatments enter the picture. Look at where your top companies are headquartered and reach out to learn their travel policy. Having a close relationship with key people at your top companies is sure to benefit you. Consider giving these top companies a break on their registration fee to encourage greater attendance. Big buyers are who your exhibitors want to meet!