Four Things to Consider When Planning for Omnichannel Events

April 20, 2021

Dave Weuthrich

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.

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!


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Overview: The award-winning Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) goes the extra mile to make every day extraordinary by offering customer service excellence and industry-leading partnerships. From their dedicated in-house Rigging team to their robust Exhibitor Services, The Center of Hospitality brings your imagination to life by helping you host unforgettable meetings and events. With more than 2 million square feet of exhibit space, world-class services and a dream destination, we are committed to making even the most ambitious conventions a reality. In October 2023, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners voted to approve allocating Tourist Development Tax funding for the $560 million Phase 5A completion of the OCCC. The Convention Way Grand Concourse project will include enhancements to the North-South Building, featuring an additional 60,000 square feet of meeting space, an 80,000- square-foot ballroom and new entry to the North-South Building along Convention Way. “We are thrilled to begin work on completing our North-South Building which will allow us to meet the growing needs of our clients,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “As an economic driver for the community, this project will provide the Center with connectivity and meeting space to host more events and continue to infuse the local economy with new money and expanding business opportunities.” Amenities: The Center of Hospitality goes above and beyond by offering world-class customer service and industry-leading partnerships. From the largest convention center Wi-Fi network to custom LAN/WAN design, the Center takes pride in enhancing exhibitor and customer experience.  The OCCC is the exclusive provider of electricity (24-hour power at no additional cost), aerial rigging and lighting, water, natural gas and propane, compressed air, and cable TV services. Convenience The Center is at the epicenter of the destination, with an abundance of hotels, restaurants, and attractions within walking distance. Pedestrian bridges connect both buildings to more than 5,200 rooms and is within a 15-minute drive from the Orlando International Airport. The convenience of the location goes hand-in-hand with top notch service to help meet an event’s every need. Gold Key Members The OCCC’s Gold Key Members represent the best of the best when it comes to exceptional service and exclusive benefits for clients, exhibitors and guests. The Center’s Gold Key memberships with Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Walt Disney World greatly enhance meeting planner and attendee experiences offering world-renowned venues, immersive experiences and creative resources for their events. OCCC Events: This fiscal year, the OCCC is projected to host 168 events, 1.7 million attendees, and $2.9 billion in economic impact.  The Center’s top five events during their 2022-2023 fiscal year included:  AAU Jr. National Volleyball Championships 2023 200,000 Attendees $257 Million in Economic Impact MEGACON 2023 160,000 Attendees $205 Million in Economic Impact Open Championship Series 2023 69,500 Attendees $89 Million in Economic Impact Sunshine Classic 2023 42,000 Attendees $54 Million in Economic Impact Premiere Orlando 2023 42,000 Attendees $108 Million in Economic Impact