An in-person event planner’s POV about virtual

In-person events are back and how! The organic, engaging connections I’ve seen form when people meet face to face is undeniable.
Rachel Ring
September 13, 2022

The biggest industry conferences and events made an in-person comeback this year. To experience once again a deep sense of excitement and engagement, people have been ready to endure travel woes, high costs, and even the likelihood of lower-attended events for the chance to meet in-person again, even when there are virtual options.

In my role as Hubilo’s Brand Event Manager, I LOVED being a part of Confex, EMS, PCMA, IMEX, and Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity and our booths were buzzing! My marketing and sales colleagues were able to develop new meaningful connections and reinforce relationships that had only been virtual before. 

Speaking of virtual

I have some thoughts about how a virtual event experience compares with in-person. For one thing, virtual events enable more efficiently planned events and have exponentially increased our potential reach. But the all-important engagement rates have been dipping since the beginning of 2022. When your content is unique and deeply engaging, you have a chance to beat the odds. If not, then you have an almost impossible challenge at hand.

Virtual event experiences today are now competing with all of your audience’s distractions - work, children, pets, chores, errands, and other social events that people can now attend IRL! Not to mention the distractions on devices which are quite literally a click away (what are you binge watching these days?). 

The plus side for virtual events is that you don’t need to make plans to travel in order to network with your peers. You can just open a link on a browser, enable your mic/camera, and start networking! This ease of access is great on one hand, but compared to the experience at an in-person event? The serendipity of being in the same place, face to face with someone new and developing a natural connection, is almost magical.

How do we make virtual as magical as in-person?

It may seem like sorcery is needed to give virtual events a chance to compete with going back to in-person. Do virtual events with valuable content and networking opportunities have a chance?
Here are three ways to bring some magic into your virtual events.

  1. Imagine a virtual session with thousands of attendees in which you are able to talk directly 1:1 with someone. Imagine asking a question to the speaker and, for that moment, everyone’s attention is on you. How about finding like-minded people in that large gathering and gathering around a table to interact together? Is Hubilo coming up with such an experience? Maybe. Hint: Checkout the call to action at the end of this post.

Hubilo's bringing IRL event engagement online

  1. Create opinionated and even controversial content. If the message lands, it can trigger a range of responses which agree/disagree with your POV. It can help build a heightened sense of engagement. Vaibhav Jain, my CEO at Hubilo, recently published a post about how virtual is not working (while being a virtual/hybrid event platform), and it got the conversation going.
  2. Leverage the network and reach of speakers and influencers to the fullest extent. Through virtual events, your speakers can hit a new and larger audience beyond their current network and in-person attendees, but don’t stop there. Help them with a social media kit so that they can create video snippets, and engage with their network about the format and their experience at the event.

What’s NEXT?

It’s time for a new POV that inspires not one but several “Awww!” and “WOW!” moments that will engage your attendees more deeply. That, coupled with content that delivers, and you’re sure to deliver a virtual experience that makes for a magical and immersive event.

Ready for a new POV about how virtual can work? Join me at NEXT on October 20th at 10am PT. 

Rachel Ring

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