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“SHOOT- I GOTTA MAKE LUNCH” – A NEW ATTENDEE EXPERIENCE

For most attendees, attending an event in-person is an experience that starts well before day 1. Months before, attendees are connecting with their communities, planning meet ups, and earmarking which booths with the newest products they want to visit first. The good news is that with digital events, that hasn’t changed. If anything communities are stronger, wider reaching, and on an almost effortless global scale. 

But what has changed? And what do you need to keep in mind when designing your attendee experience?  We’ve learned a few things that might help you create a more thoughtful and inclusive agenda and experience for your attendees in the digital landscape.  

YOU HAVE ARRIVED 

There nothing quite like arriving at the airport to signage welcoming you to the city hosting the event you’re attending. You have arrived. There’s nothing like walking through the main doors to the exciting buzz of your peers. You belong.  

Switching to digital does not mean forgoing that sense of place. Being intentional about your registration process, about your day 1 welcome and kick off, and about branding throughout your event, can ensure that your attendees know- even from their living rooms, that they’ve arrived.  

Work with your registration, marketing, and content teams to ensure that your branding is consistent, the voice in which your communications are written to your attendees align with the culture you want to foster at your event, and to be confident that your speakers, sponsors, and partners, help to further that feeling of belonging to something bigger.  

YOU HAVE FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) 

The reality we’ve all come to know so well is that life at home is a whirlwind of multi-tasking from conference calls and emails to helping with homework and making sure everyone is fed…it’s a Groundhog Day we’re all learning to navigate.  

Your attendees are no longer physically detaching from their normal lives and traveling to your event. They no longer have the focused dedicated intention to fully be immersed in the experience. How does that change how you approach your event?  

Make sure they don’t feel like taking a moment to help with homework, to make lunch, or to run an errand is going to make them miss out on valuable content. How?  

  • Make time for life. Take into consideration the time zones of your attendees. Build into your agenda, breaks for what would be considered a normal time for lunch or dinner, or schedule repeat pre-recorded sessions during those times. Consider making your event days shorter so that attendees can better balance their commitments. 
  • Help with tricky time zones- Where possible, list session times in more than one time zone. This not only helps your attendees with scheduling real time, but also avoid the frustrations that might come with missing a live session, because of a simple miscalculation or misunderstanding.  
  • Mind the international dateline. If your event is global ensure that your live activations are scheduled at a time where the majority of your attendee base can attend, and when possible record those live sessions for those who may not be able to attend the keynote at 3AM their time.  
  • Provide your content post event. Just like any event your attendees will need to manage their time and pick and choose sessions and experiences. Providing as much recorded content post event, allows attendees to prioritize their limited time, but also provide the comfort of knowing that they can run that errand and still watch that session afterwards!  

YOU ARE VALUED 

Inclusion is something different for everyone. The way you curate your agenda can be impactful in making an attendee feel valued, belonged, and included in your event. Affording the families, the caretakers, the breadwinners, and the life-long learners the time and freedom to balance their life, is a step to a more inclusive world. It is thought, intention, and recognition of humanity now that will not go unnoticed.  

#EventGoals HOW THEY CHANGE WHEN YOU GO DIGITAL

RETHINKING YOUR EVENT GOALS  

Many are falling into the trap of exhausting their efforts in translating their physical event goals into a digital space. However, we’ve learned that a digital experience means rethinking your goals, and not simply translating them. Be realistic about your return on investment, dream big on your audience reach, and think ahead in how you can continue to utilize your content after your event.   

KNOW WHAT YOUR AUDIENCE VALUES

Networking and face to face conversations were the bread and butter of events. Rethinking attendee and expert engagement doesn‘t mean sacrificing what your audience values most! Using digital pre-event polling tools or deep diving into historical event evaluations, ask your audience or search for what they value. Is it interactive digital sessions? Tactical demos? One on one expert meetings? Once you know the why in your audiences’ engagement, these values will become your northern star in setting your event objectives.  .  

METRICS THAT MAKE SENSE

Think ahead and determine metrics that will help inform decision now and for the years to come. Beyond our current need for digital events, evaluate the metrics you have historically used as key performance indicators and use those as a basis when creating new ones to determine your idea of digital success. Using historical metrics has a starting point will help create consistent and relatable data points for future decision making and set the tone for the success of your entire event portfolio digital and beyond.   

RETURN ON INVESTMENT

Where budget was once was allocated to physical signage and food and beverage- digital events call for a different kind of investment. Making sure you have the right platforms and tools to optimize your audience experience and interaction is where you should prioritize your investments. Understanding where your budget will go and how that spend can impact your audience engagement and add value to your event is key to ensuring you meet both your objective and financial goals. 

YOUR EVENT PORTFOLIO

Think big picture. As a brand, what is your vision for experiential marketing? What are the goals for your overall event portfolio across the company, and do your event objectives align to them? Experiential marketing is different for everyone but can be a pivotal tool for brand awareness and community building. Determine where your event falls within your big picture and ensure that what you create drives your brand forward long term.    

DIGITAL EVENT CUSTOMER SERVICE: SCALING BIG, SCALING FAST AND SCALING FOR SUCCESS

As we continue to execute digital events, we’ve noticed the consistent trend of exponential increases in attendee registrations and a wider global audience reach. To put it simply- a digital event means more people and more people means- you guessed it, more people looking for support.  

Take the usual sight of attendees lined up at the registration counter, each anxious to get their event underway, but may need some help navigating their experience and getting their bearings- and make it digital! Although the frequently asked questions are no longer “can I get my badge reprinted?” or “which way to room 123?” we have identified some common questions in digital attendee support that you can your team can prepare for as you execute your digital event.  

NEW Q’s ON THE BLOCK

By far, the area where attendees need the most help is logging in. If the event went from an in-person experience to a digital one, it may be that they registered a month ago and can’t remember their credentials, or maybe their browser is caching a different account and is causing technical issues with logging in. Whatever the reason, your login page will receive the highest traffic on day 1 and throughout your event! With that being said, attendees will be reaching out for support to make sure they are able to access their schedule builders and most importantly the full event experience! So how can you make sure you’re prepared for that morning rush? 

SQUAD UP

How do you know what kind of volume you will see? Well, get out your crystal ball! Knowing how much support will be needed and when is a bit of a guessing game in the beginning. Our advice? Assemble the Avengers. If this is your first digital event, being overstaffed on the customer service side of things is ideal! It would be a success if by the end of the day some people are twiddling their thumbs- this means you ensured there were enough resources available for all attendees to receive support in a timely manner. 

The alternative? Without enough resources to support, attendees are unable to log in, unable to access sessions or navigate through the event platform, and you have loose one engaged attendee and gain one frustrated attendee who did not find value in their digital event experience.  

So, how do you support that many requests quickly and efficiently?  You need to scale not only your team, but also your processes! 

PLAN UP

So you’ve assembled your team and everyone is ready and raring to help! Now what? Now you determine your plan of action! With larger teams, you have more hands in the pot, more chefs in the kitchen- and you need to first get organized! 

Our best advice is to use a ticketing tool! Ticketing tools allow you to tackle a substantial amount of requests quickly and efficiently. The market is not lacking in these customer service ticketing tools and based on the functionalities you and your team are looking for- there is one out there for you! We have found the best tools for us are those associated with email-based support as that is the main venue attendees use to get in contact with the support team. 

Work with your teams to develop a workflow that works for you! Divide your team into categories based on their knowledge base and provide a clear path for escalations. An example is “Generalist” and “SMEs or subject matter experts” Generalists field questions from the front-line and escalate the more complicated requests to the group of SMEs. This allows generalists to most efficiently respond to common questions from attendees and by routing the complicated tickets to the SMES, tickets can be triaged more effectively. 

Once your teams are divided by skill and knowledge level- it’s crucial you define clear roles and responsibilities and share them out with the entire team. This ensure that in the chaos of day 1- your teams know exactly that they need to be executing on and that their execution aligns to you’re the overall customer service strategy.  

TRAIN UP

You have your tool, your roles and workflows, and a team eager to jump in- now it’s time to show them how! For some, this might be the first time managing through a ticketing system, for your seasoned customer service team these maybe new workflows, and for some- it all might be brand new! Set your team up for success by investing in time dedicated to training so that when it’s time to execute the team and confidently use the tools and leverage the decision-making power outlined in their roles.  

Start with outlining the event, it’s objectives, and the audience demographic to provide context and event knowledge that allow the team to connect with the big picture. Then dive into your customer service goals, objectives, KPIs, workflows, and R+Rs. This ensures everyone is working towards the same customer service goals.  

To build confidence in new tool, make sure to give ample time for your team to poke around in the tool! Shoot off some test tickets, and give the teams a chance to assign, reply, and escalate.  

Leading up to the event, work with your broader teams to understand and document anticipated frequently asked questions, both from a general event standpoint as well as anticipated technical issues.  Use these FAQs to generate dynamic, templated standardized responses your staffers can use.  Knowing what the biggest issue could possibly be, you can craft templated responses that pull in standard copy for a reply but also pull information associated with that record (I.e. first name, last name, etc.) which can help triage the inquiry even faster.   

Host a Know Before the Show meeting just days before the event. A few reasons for this: 1. Let’s be honest, up until this point the details for the event are still being ironed out. Hosting the KBTS closer to the event date ensures you are sharing out final details/experiences with the staffing team. 2. It will give your team the refresher they need to move through inquiries quickly day of and 3 It gives you time to build out final templates to be used on live days.   

RAMP UP

As attendees get excited for Day 1 you will see a steady increase in the number on inquires that come through! We’ve seen this pick-up as early as a week out from the event. With that in mind, we recommend using a ramp up model for support and to tie it to any milestones from your MARCOM plan. For example, you may want to schedule more staffers the day of/after your tools launch as you will likely see an increase in ticket volume. 

SUIT UP

Digital events mean scaling big, scaling fast, and scaling for success. Daunting right? But with the right tools, a little extra preparation, clear communication, and a team dedicated to going the extra mile – you can make your vision of success a reality!  

EXECUTING CONTENT AT YOUR DIGITAL EVENT

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Imagine the difference between the Indio Dessert and your living room… Coachella might be a tough one to recreate digitally, but impactful and innovative content doesn’t have to be. Going digital is a powerful way to spotlight your thought leaders and to close the physical gap between like-minded peers to generate new ideas for a future that needs them.

The absence of flashy booths, covetable swag, and enticing activations in a physical space opens the door for more thoughtful, poignant, and purposeful content delivery that adds a different kind of value to your attendees. Going digital means a production where your speakers and your content are the stars. Through experienced coaching and active behind the scenes support, your stars can take the big screen and be ready for “action”!

FEATURE FILM? MINISERIES?

Understanding your event objectives will be the foundation to establishing your content strategy. Your content strategy, your sessions types, and the tools you use will determine the engagement of your audience. Be mindful of your audience type and what is valuable to them. Breakout sessions, poster sessions, birds of a feather groups, and panel discussions- are just a few different physical experiences that translate into equally, if not more, impactful digital experiences.

CASTING

You may already know them- they are your veteran speakers, your super-bowl half-time performers, and your Oscar winners. Those are your spotlight speakers. But what about your rising stars? Untapped potential can be highlighted through a digital event where those who thrive in digital storytelling can also take the stage. A digital call for speakers is not new to our world, but digital storytelling can open the doors for a wide pool of new content creators.

GET YOUR STORY STRAIGHT

You have your event objectives determined, content strategy in place, and your cast selected- it’s time to get your story straight. Making sure your content is curated, cohesive, and consistent is important to your digital attendee experience. Taking a larger than life stage and taking it to the 23inch desktop monitors of your attendees takes thoughtful digital content creation, captivating visuals, demos, and brand cohesion. Your speakers should understand the event objectives and help to represent your brand through their content.

BEHIND THE SCENES

It takes a village. Make sure your speakers feel ready and supported on the technical stuff so they can focus on the speaking stuff. Avoid the awkward silence and the “the video isn’t playing” moments, by rehearsing with your speakers, doing digital tech checks, ensuring they have the proper connection and equipment and aren’t left on their own to speak, manage the virtual room, and troubleshoot technical difficulties.

For more tips and and tricks from experts- check out this webinar featuring Jamie Timperley on how to Effectively Train Your Speakers for Virtual Events.

TIME FOR YOUR CLOSE UP

While a glam squad my not be necessary for your speakers, there are a few cosmetic efforts that can be made to their space that can impact the value of their sessions. A natural or branded background, forward facing lighting, and consistency in attire can help enhance your audiences engagement with the speaker, establish your brand, add credibility to your sessions, and avoid the viral “t-shirt turned green screen” moments.

LIGHTS CAMERA ACTION!

Whether you’re streaming live or pre-recording, making sure that you have the goals in mind, your teams in place, and your speakers primed will ensure that your digital event can be a summer blockbuster hit. Your speakers will feel prepared to lead and encourage intentional dialogue, your attendees from all walks of life will feel connect, and you will have in your hands the tools and content to continue telling your story beyond time and distance.

THE WRAP PARTY

What is a summer blockbuster hit? Going digital means access to attendee metrics unlike ever before. Where physical tracking can be in accurate and difficult to manage, when you go digital, you are able to determine what your success metrics are and leverage tools that help you get valuable post event speaker evaluations, audience insights, and data in hand to determine your next event strategy.

READY?

So, what about the details? Time zone and scheduling management, call for speaker processes, speaker training, and session catalog publishing? If you’ve got the big picture, don’t sweat the small stuff. Dynamic Event has been at the forefront of content and speaker management and our team of experts can help you ensure your audience gets the most out of your digital event experience.

Hi. WE’RE DYNAMIC EVENTS.

Over the last few years, we’ve been laser focused on growing our team and executing events, and admittedly our engagement with our online blog platform has fallen to the wayside. Our last blog post was in 2018 and it’s now 2020, so it’s seems like a re-introduction might be in order. Hi, I’m Jamie Timperley, CEO, and we’re Dynamic Events.

We started 2020 with goals of growing smarter, of investing in our team and professional development, and of taking the time to make data driven business decisions with sustainability in mind.

It’s now April 2020 and everything has changed. Like everyone, our lives, our industry, and our world has been blindsided and turned upside by COVID-19. As a company, we have had to shift our focus and resolve that our new goal was not to sustain, but to survive. There is no handbook of “what to do in a pandemic” and nothing could have quite prepared us for the decisions we’ve had to make and the challenges we’ve faced. However, in this time, I’ve learned to lean on my amazing leadership team and their guidance and perspective; I’ve learned to mirror the compassion and understanding of our incredible team; and I’ve learned to rely on the generosity of my mentors who never hold back on sharing their knowledge. We haven’t made it to the other side yet, but we’ve learned so much and come so far.

That’s why we’re picking up our pen, as it were, and jump starting our blog again! We know there are others out there, small businesses, event planners, and customers looking for new ideas, best practices, and helpful guidance during times when it seems like we’re all building the plane while it’s flying. We don’t have all the answers, but we want to share with you what we know and what we’ve learned so far.

Over the next few weeks and months, we’ll be updating this blog with guidance around digital event execution, everything from content management and speaker readiness to how to create a digital expo floor. We’ll also share what we’ve learned as a company navigating unpredictable times. We hope that these resources will help you in our journey, and that you too will share your learnings with us!

So here’s to brighter horizons, to staying home, and to resetting the password to this blog! 

– Jamie

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