As we explored in this article, companies are in the process of re-evaluating how they manage their programs in order to build back smarter and rely on trusted partnerships. People are enthusiastically returning to face-to-face corporate events, and we are seeing a surge in the next three quarters now that it’s beginning to feel less risky to make plans. There is an increase in in-person sales meetings, leadership meetings, tradeshows, customer events, and incentives-clients are committed to bringing people together again.
THE VALUE OF FACE-TO-FACE Events
As we return to in-person events, there is a heavy emphasis on networking and helping facilitate connections since many teams have not been together in a long time, and in many cases, they have new employees who have not yet met in person. Even more, customers are trying to incorporate wellness options into corporate events.
However, global corporate events are still commonly being done in hub locations or virtually, as prices are up from both a supply and demand perspective and pressure from inflation. Hotels, venues, and DMCs all experiencing staffing shortages which equates to longer response times and onsite staff levels are sometimes challenging. As a global agency, BCD Meetings & Events leverage our relationships and have honest conversations to ensure our partners have the support and resources to succeed.
Engagement strategies for a new event landscape
Apps and social networking technologies are now standard on-site resources to facilitate conversation-whether with matchmaking tools or other tech options to make introductions and help event attendees find each other. Guided conversations and fireside chats are helpful for audiences with lots of first-time attendees to create an atmosphere of sharing and connecting.
Expansive hospitality spaces that are live throughout the program are becoming common. These are multi-purpose spaces for F&B, entertainment, and activities, charging stations, etc., with tables and chairs, soft seating, and even massage chairs or swings. This creates spaces for attendees to find each other and give companies an opportunity to create a branded zone for interaction throughout the event. Of course, personalized content is still crucial, and creating more free time and “roomier” agendas so people aren’t exhausted by all the interaction is also becoming a must.
Look for these event trends:
- Virtual is here to stay and remains a great tool for connecting global audiences.
- The pressure is off – you don’t have to accomplish everything in your sessions; pick the content that works well virtually to make it more effective and engaging.
- Clients are building on their virtual success from 2020 and 2021 and are actively seeking networking, on-demand content, tradeshows, etc. They know they have the basics right, and now they are embracing the more challenging parts of virtual.
- Face-to-face is better, but every client now wants to crack the networking nut virtually.
Growth and opportunity areas for corporate events
Hindsight brings clarity. When we were thrown into the world of virtual and then began making our way back, hybrid seemed like a viable solution. However, the reality today is that it’s not. There are costs and logistics that are not sustainable long-term. Instead, we are developing best practices around engaging multiple audiences around the globe.
This brings renewed opportunity to be more strategic in deciding what content works best face-to-face and what can be done virtually. A sales meeting, for example, could have three components:
- A kickoff General Session virtually
- Regional meetings carried out in-office or virtually (or even in hub locations)
- Two nights onsite for a select audience rather than 3-4 nights for the whole team.
We can also rethink agendas and bring incentives to new audiences. Many clients were struggling with long-time employees who loved their traditional incentive format and rewards and newer employees who were looking for something different, but after a 2+ year break from their norm, it is much easier to implement new reward ideas, formats, and destinations that satisfy both audiences.
Survey your attendees and get to know them again. People have discovered new hobbies, found new priorities, and missed things they didn’t realize they would…let them tell you who they are now so you reward them appropriately.