5 Tips for In-Person Event Success in 2021 (and Beyond)

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In 2020, the events industry was turned upside down as COVID-19 spread around the world and in-person events were put on hold indefinitely. Amidst great uncertainty in the industry, event professionals took their events to the virtual stage.  

In true form, event planners faced this challenge with grit and determination. They pivoted their in-person event plans and learned the ins and outs of virtual event planning, how to navigate virtual event platforms, and so much more.  

Eighteen months after the start of the pandemic, there’s still a bit of uncertainty as to what the near future will bring.  

We have seen some successful in-person events, including The American Medical Spa Association’s Medical Spa Show 2021, which saw over 600+ attendees safely gather for an unforgettable in-person event experience.  

Hybrid events have also helped event planners ease back into the in-person event game by adding virtual attendee experiences to in-person events, enabling planners to reach an even broader audience. The National Speaker’s Association hosted one of the industry’s first and most successful hybrid events, which seamlessly brought together virtual and in-person audiences.  

While virtual and hybrid events are here to stay, the in-person event format isn’t going anywhere–– but keep in mind, there’s likely no going back to the way things were before 2020.  

If you’re gearing up to host an in-person event, large or small, we have you covered with 5 tips to help you achieve in-person event success in 2021 and beyond.

Establish health and safety guidelines

Before you can host your in-person attendees, it’s important that you incorporate health and safety guidelines into your event plan.  

Establishing these guidelines early will help provide peace of mind for both you and your attendees. As you craft them, keep in mind that your venue and the state where your event is being held may have specific rules and regulations in place that you’ll also need to abide by.  

Here are some health and safety guidelines to consider:

  • Provide attendees with pins or wristbands with colors that coordinate with their social distancing comfort level. Red = no contact, yellow = elbow bumps are okay, green = high fives or hugs are okay (with masks), etc. 
  • Make sure you have plenty of masks and hand sanitizer available for attendees and staff to use throughout the event.
  • Check to see if your venue provides a designated staff member or wellness concierge to answer any attendee questions related to your health and safety guidelines. This provides attendees with a go-to resource during your event and will also allow you to focus your attention on running the event. 
  • Require temperature checks for both attendees and staff members before entering the event space.  
  • Use floor markers to help attendees maintain social distancing at check-in and during networking time.

Clearly communicate guidelines and protocols 

Your health and safety guidelines will be much more effective if you establish a communications plan to clearly outline expectations for your in-person attendees.  

On your event’s landing page or website, clearly state what precautions you’re taking to keep everyone safe. This will help attendees to feel confident that you have their safety in mind and will enable them to make informed decisions about whether they are comfortable attending your event. 

This is also a great opportunity to leverage your virtual event platform to communicate important health and safety information to attendees. First, upload any relevant videos and documents that highlight your event’s guidelines and protocols. Next, give attendees access to the platform a few days in advance, so they can peruse the content and get familiar with the platform. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page before the event kicks off.  

You can also leverage social and email marketing to share important updates and highlight the ways your event might look different than past events. Not only will this set your attendees’ expectations, it’s also one more opportunity to start generating excitement and connection ahead of the event.

Secure the right event partners

Collaborating with the right event partners is key to in-person event success –– especially as event planners reimagine the event format during COVID-19 and beyond.  

As an event planner, you have a lot on your plate. Delegating as much as possible will allow you to focus on ensuring your event runs smoothly.  

Here are three key event partners that you should secure when launching your next in-person event. These partners each have a designated role for in-person events and can help you elevate the event experience for your attendees:  

  • AV/production: Whether you’re recording your breakout sessions or keynote presentations to share later or streaming content to a virtual audience, partnering with a professional AV/production team will ensure you’re providing top notch content for your attendees.  
  • Third-party planners: Working with a third-party planner can be a worthwhile investment. It means that they can focus more on day-to-day logistics while you dedicate your time and energy to connecting with key stakeholders, interacting with attendees, and ensuring you achieve your event goals.  
  • Mobile event app: The right mobile event app, built with customization, next-level networking capabilities, robust engagement features, and plenty of ways to drive sponsor ROI, should allow your attendees to become fully immersed in your in-person event.

Provide compelling content  

After 18 months of virtual event experiences, you need to prove to your audience that investing their time, energy, and money into an in-person event is worth it. Have no fear! While the in-person event format has changed, there are still plenty of reasons why attendees will be eager to attend your event.  

  • Inspiring speakers: Having top notch speakers at your event can seal the deal for some attendees. During your planning, try surveying your audience to identify what topics they’re most interested in, and then use that data to narrow down your speaker search. 
  • User generated content: Bring your attendees into the fun of your in-person event by enabling them to contribute their own thoughts and insights. For example, consider inviting attendees up on stage to participate in a contest or share their own insights following a keynote presentation. Your event app is also a great place for people to post about their learnings and hear from other attendees.  
  • Key takeaways: Throughout your event promotion, make sure to highlight the unique strategies and wisdom attendees will gain from your event’s content, speakers, and networking opportunities. What key takeaways will help them take their craft to the next level?   
  • Worthwhile meetups: There’s nothing quite like connecting with fellow industry professionals in person at a dynamic event. Ensure your event schedule provides plenty of opportunities for attendees to network before, during, and after.  
  • Attendee engagement: Leverage gamification to fuel friendly competition, Live Display to communicate event updates around your venue, Q&A and polling to keep the conversation going during sessions, and so much more. The sky’s the limit!

Host lower risk events  

If you’re not quite ready to host a large in-person event, smaller-scale events can still provide value and engagement for your attendees.  

Consider inviting a select few of your customers or prospects to attend an in-person event where they can network with fellow industry professionals as well as executives from your company. 

Regardless of your in-person event size, it’s always a good idea to have a digital venue in place in case you need to quickly pivot and move your event to the virtual stage.  Are you looking for more ways to elevate your in-person and hybrid meetings, events, and conferences? We recently sponsored a FREE guidebook with the Event Leadership Institute on that exact topic! Grab your copy here.

Are you ready to take your in-person event to the next level with Socio’s Mobile Event App, dynamic Live Display, contactless Lead Retrieval? Schedule a personalized demo with our team of Socio Experts!

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