Trying to create a long-term event strategy in today's world can feel like trying to staple Jello to a tree. At the first bit of pressure, everything can fall apart, and it can be hard to pick up the pieces of planned in-person events that have to be canceled, delayed, or modified with restricted access.
2022 may see the same unpredictability that represented 2021 which is bad news for promoting events and meeting revenue goals. After all, according to Markletic:
"For small virtual events, most people need between 3-6 weeks to promote the event successfully. For large virtual conferences, 65% of marketers need more than 6 weeks to promote the event and drive the desired amount of registrations."
That long timeline isn't built for uncertainty around in-person events. So virtual events are giving professionals in the event content and design space a foothold in an uncertain period where audiences are still leery of travel and large conferences.
Rather than playing a game of wait and see, build up your digital events so they become a feature rather than a fallback option. Creating inclusive, engaging digital events is the way to drive revenue for your business so you can meet your goals regardless of future trends. Consider these developing trends in inclusive events and experience design as you plan for 2022.
The Evolution of Inclusive Events
COVID-19 is complicating the corporate and large event industry. Not only is it causing financial turbulence for hosting organizations, caterers and venues, and support services, but it's also causing chaos for attendees who are investing in travel and tickets only for the event to be upended.
This pattern isn't just frustrating and costly — it's also underscoring how non-inclusive in-person events can be. Smaller organizations and independent attendees can't afford to travel, renegotiate travel plans, and stay flexible.
Similarly, small or independent presenters and event hosts can stay afloat while simultaneously handling new timelines and costs. This means that only organizations with a strong event budget can continue to attempt large in-person events, and even they're increasingly leery of the risks and costs.
However, a new inverse trend is emerging: digital events are surprisingly inclusive.
Hosts can assemble presenters and activities, create backup plans, and maintain a schedule that fits their needs. Attendees can enjoy the event without worrying about travel, restrictions, or last-minute cancellations. When everyone can incorporate the event into their schedule more easily and have convenient access to the content, events become much more appealing.
Even with all the inclusive conveniences that digital and virtual events offer, the best practices for virtual events are still developing. Issues with engagement, attendance, and inclusivity are something you and your team should account for early in the event planning process.
Experience Design and Event Inclusivity
Virtual events rely on good experience design to keep attendees engaged, make your events leave a positive impression long after the event has concluded, and target all members of the audience you value. Focusing on experience design also promotes event inclusivity so more people feel welcome to your events and feel like they're getting enough value.
What Is Experience Design?
Experience design is like marketing: it's all about understanding your target market's needs, pain points, and emotions to cultivate a message and experience that will resonate with them. Keeping your audience's mindset in your thoughts throughout the event planning process helps you consider potential roadmaps, design the experience to be accessible, and tailor different events or sub-events to different demographics.
The experience design framework focuses on creating the right memories and emotions to bring attendees closer to the event's goals. This can often take the form of boosting excitement about a new product release, making investors more confident about the year ahead, or ensuring audiences feel more knowledgeable about trends in your industry.
The Correlation Between Experience Design and Inclusivity
Consider how these five factors correlate between experience design and inclusivity:
A high ticket price can increase appeal and interest in your event, but it can also make it completely unapproachable to interested audiences. Since virtual events don't have the same capacity concerns as in-person events, you can lower this barrier to get even more attendees and spread your message further. If you're going to have two tiers of experiences of your event, consider having a VIP ticket and free admission so you can reach more people.
In-person events have to follow a strict schedule. But that's not true for every part of a virtual event. You can accommodate people's busy schedules by recording the events, having text-based forums that let attendees discuss content long after the end of an experience, and more.
However, virtual events should be planned around major holidays and competing events. Live, virtual experiences are almost more rewarding. So you and your team can strike a compromise: schedule your virtual experiences when there aren't clear conflicts, but give attendees resources so they can come, go, and experience later.
3. Branding and Communications
Virtual events will use a lot of digital assets. Your platform, marketing materials, backgrounds, and more should all have cohesive and memorable branding. This helps strengthen familiarity with your brand and makes the entire experience more polished. Be sure to prioritize DEI across all the platforms used in the event and the materials you create before and after the event.
Because you're reaching a wider virtual audience, you also have access to a wider pool of potential speakers. Proactively assess your speakers and entertainment list to be sure your list is diverse, inclusive, and can engage people across your intended audience.
Accessibility is crucial for any event. Organize your event platform to be easy to navigate, with as few frustration points or areas for confusion as possible. Whenever possible, also try to scatter your experiences across all of the time zones your guests are attending from. Also, invest in resources for subtitles and translations so your event is globally inclusive.
Create More Inclusive Events With Support From Impact Point Group
Focusing on great experiences helps create great events, and focusing on inclusivity creates those great experiences. At Impact Point Group, we specialize in helping event directors plan and host engaging virtual events that reach wide audiences. Contact us today to learn more about our services or for more insight into developing event trends.