On Wednesday 11th November, the Hire Space Virtual Team kicked off Part 2 of EventLAB 2020 Online, which was all about The Event Experience, Project Safety & Success.
For this panel discussion, we welcomed Amy Kobelis, Engagement & Events Manager at WWF, Kate Davey, Head of Event Marketing & Education at London Metal Exchange and our very own Eliot Sargeant, Business Development Manager at Hire Space.
Watch the full session below and read on for the key takeaways.
Stop and re-evaluate
This year the Coronavirus has caused us all to take a step back and consider how we can deliver our events in a different way, with traditional in-person events suddenly off the table. In response, planners have had to upskill and pivot to planning virtual events.
Looking to the future
Some organisations, such as the LME, haven’t needed to make cuts to their events budget due to the fact that virtual events are naturally cheaper than in-person events. However, it’s difficult to then devise an accurate budget for 2021 due to ‘the not knowing’ - will in-person events be back to normal, will we still be completely virtual, or will the events be hybrid? Planners are needing to second-guess and predict what they think might happen, which makes it hard to allocate budget and resources to certain events or projects.
Metrics of success
A big change for planners is being able to track engagement through the platforms used, which was not the case with in-person events. For example, being able to see where people dropped off a session early or what questions they asked can be really valuable and can help improve ROI for stakeholders and sponsors.
With online events, such as online conferences and webinars, there are no attendance barriers, meaning attendance can be much higher than in-person events and there are therefore many more stats and reports that can be done using the tech. However, because this is so new to most of us, it can be difficult to actually know what to do with all the data, meaning many of us may have some great data from our events but our CRMs may not be up to scratch to deal with it all yet.
This has been a great time to take the opportunity to explore different kinds of virtual events not previously considered. There has been less risk to the financial side of things, so people are feeling a bit more confident to try it out and see how it goes. Part of what makes this possible is short lead times - if you see a topic you find interesting and want to try it out as a webinar, you only really need a few days to throw it together, promote it and get some people signed up. It’s much simpler in that way than an in-person event.
Another opportunity that is presented by virtual events is being able to get your message across much more explicitly. Rather than relying on sales teams to network, you could send the attendees dedicated, targeted email campaigns to get your message across. Whether that’s sending post-event content, content around topics they were interested in or a full-blown sales pitch, it’s an opportunity to make your event content go further and create sales opportunities too.
The future is hybrid?
Planning for hybrid events is well underway for next year. These hybrid events will generate great opportunities in terms of reporting, as they are targeted to an international audience and across different markets than before. This will attract a much larger delegation than normal and will therefore provide new metrics on which to report, enhancing ROI.
The events naturally throw up their own challenges, such as ticketing and platforms, but they are certainly going to be a big part of the events industry next year and provide lots of opportunities for lead generation.
Amy, how are you achieving networking with your virtual events?
Whilst we haven’t done any specific virtual networking events thus far, we have been making use of the chat function in Zoom, as well as doing plenty of research on platforms and tools that could work for us in the near future. Where possible, separating question and chat functions on a platform seems to be effective in encouraging people to network.
Kate, do you have any advice on how to make the sales team make the most of these virtual opportunities?
We’re not viewing virtual events as a way to network with people in the normal way that you would at an in-person event. For us, if we’re doing a virtual conference it’s about branding, the speakers and the content, rather than relying on the sales team for lead generation. It’s more about messaging around the event, so it’s important to change the way you view your sales team and use them in slightly different ways.
Kate, how have you been approaching the new data you’ve been gathering, and have you been reporting it any differently?
Step 1 has been doing wider reporting internally in order to gain insight into how attendees are engaging. There is more to be done, and the next steps would be to improve our CRM and retargeting in order to use the information in the best possible way, and in a more automated way.
About The Speakers
Kate Davey, Head of Event Marketing & Education, London Metal Exchange
Kate joined the LME in 2015 and is responsible for the management of all marketing efforts globally where the LME is engaging with members and potential clients at events and conferences or through educational activities, including the end-to-end delivery of LME Week.
Amy Kobelis, Engagement & Events Manager, WWF
Since 2018, Amy has headed up a small team at WWF focusing on the delivery of high-profile events for the organisation, adapting over the last 6months to a fully online programme.
Eliot Sargeant, Business Development Manager, Hire Space
Eliot is an experienced events professional and has been part of the Hire Space team for over 2 years now working with clients on 2 key areas - Hire Space Professional, the event management system designed with the modern-day event planner in mind, and Hire Space Virtual, the go-to team for all things virtual events!
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