The last few years exposed some risk management weaknesses in the meeting and event industry. COVID-19 heavily influenced the way participants made the decision to attend and engage in events. How does a planner host a meeting or event when physical presence is no longer possible? This problem no doubt accelerated the delivery of digital and hybrid events, which connect meeting- and event-goers remotely, and a combination of remotely and in person. But even with the knowledge that digital events can be beneficial, best practices to guide success for organizations delivering meetings and events across digital and hybrid formats are vague and fickle.
To tackle that ambiguity, the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), a global business events association, and AC Forum, a European association networking platform, undertook research to find out what the meeting and event industry could learn from planners that had to quickly pivot from face-to-face to digital events and how that insight can guide the industry’s approach to future digital and hybrid events.
The PCMA and AC Forum conducted the survey with planners who held a paid-for digital event (that was previously held in person) within the past 15 months. The survey asked respondents specific questions about their experiences hosting a digital event and the transition from in-person to digital, including prompts on the importance of digital event platforms, software integration, audiovisual, digital networking, pricing, inclusivity and monetization.
Following the survey, a Steering Committee comprised of PCMA and AC Forum members reviewed the study. The feedback was that the research provides actionable insights for organizations looking to engage audiences through digital and hybrid events. As a result, the report demystifies digital events and provides planners with a template for holding future digital events. Some suggestions include upstaffing to help promote virtual networking, providing presenters with training on the digital format and best practices, benchmarking for both digital and in-person events, and more.
If you’re looking for additional ways to improve your digital and hybrid meeting and event strategy, view the full report, “Digital Events Outlook: Insights, Behaviors, Best Practices,” at pcma.org/digital-events-insights-emea.
According to Tracy Bury, AC Forum president, “We started 2020 with little data to inform critical changes that our associations were needing to make to deliver events and connect their own communities to advance knowledge and create impact … Now as we enter 2022, we are better placed to make data-informed decisions arising from this research and the insights shared.”