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Post-pandemic events

The planning, pitfalls and possibilities

The events industry is in the midst of a revolution, with the move towards virtual and hybrid events catalysed by the enormous life changes the COVID-19 pandemic forced on us all. ‘Hybrid’ is the new buzzword. According to Forbes, 71% of companies with 5000+ employees now include the word in their event portfolios, and many smaller companies are jumping on the streaming bandwagon. But what actually is a ‘hybrid’ event?

Instead of thinking of hybrid events as a single thing, says Toucan’s Founder & MD Lynn Chambers, we need to change our mindset and get creative with strategy. Integrating a live event with a coordinated virtual experience is a tremendous opportunity to push the boundaries of user experience and explore new ways of touching a wider audience. But different audiences may have completely different needs.

‘Some people talk about hybrid as a strategy,’ Lynn says, ‘but I prefer to see it more like the double helix of DNA, where two distinct strands weave together seamlessly around the backbone of your event theme.’ Threading these different experiences together into a cohesive experience takes skill, creativity and meticulous attention to detail.

Plans

Like with all events, planning is key. The key things to remember are to always keep the user in mind, separate the needs of your different audiences from the outset, think carefully about what they expect, and be creative about how to give them the best possible experience. That might mean implementing training strategies, thinking carefully about which platform to use or precisely coordinating the arrival of gifts or event communications.

Pitfalls

The number one pitfall is making assumptions about people and technology. Is your platform capable of supporting your plans? Would a virtual MC help keep your virtual audience active? Have you adapted your communication and promotional strategy to include everyone equally? In some cases, a live stream can be a great opportunity to help everyone feel part of something (take a look at how Toucan helped GSK adapt their 2021 IMPACT awards ceremony for the pandemic and ended up quadrupling the audience here). Other events need a more technical approach, with separate co-ordination for virtual attendees to help curate their experience.

Possibilities

When it comes to hybrid events, the possibilities for integration are endless. Holographic technology, virtual reality, real-time panel participation from all over the world; they are all tantalisingly close. But with so many technological possibilities, we’ll need to work together as an industry to get the best out of this exciting new world of events. Testing out new technologies and directions will be a global effort, and sharing what we’ve learned will help all of us move forward. 

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We’re thrilled to announce that we have joined ISLA, a non-profit organisation founded by event professionals and industry leaders focusing on a sustainable future for events 🤝♻️

In June we attended the ISLA member forum at ‘TheMeetingsShow where it was fantastic to learn more about the organisation and how we, as agencies and clients, can put events at the forefront of the climate fight. Specifically, it was wonderful to gain insight about TRACE, which is the definitive carbon measurement platform to measure and minimise carbon at live, hybrid and virtual events. 

The forum was an incredible experience, our Account Director Natalie said: “It was great to be with industry peers, discussing the challenges our industry faces as well as the opportunities. Everyone there was like-minded, with a common goal. It was really inspiring.” 

We’re excited to go on this journey with ISLA and look forward to continuing to elevate the topic of sustainability whilst supporting our clients and community.

#wearetoucanagency #ISLA #TRACE #carbonreduction #eventsprofs #eventprofsuk #sustainability #toucanagency
"Thank you for being a truly stellar team."🙌

We really loved working alongside GSK to create a completely bespoke virtual experience!

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