Online or In-Person: It’s Not a Zero Sum Game

Streaming video and high availability of video collaboration applications have made virtual meetings and events more viable and desirable. This does not mean the demise of in-person events and meetings; on the contrary, it signals a human desire to see and interact with one another.

As we've written in a number of posts here, attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors no longer want to be passive participants in an event. Sitting back and just listening and taking notes is not enough. A logo on a sign is not enough. Booth space is not enough. All participants are looking for interaction and engagement with each other and with the event as a whole. While online interactions are convenient, the connection made online translates into a desire for in-person interaction. A study from Digitell found that "up to 30% of people attending a live streamed event have attended the live physical event the following year."[Tweet "It's Not a Zero Sum Game. The balance between online and in-person events. #GovEventsBlog"]

So how should brands and events strike the balance between the convenience of online and the strong pull toward in-person?

  • Stream Your Meetings - the same Digitell study referenced above found that up to 50% of people attending a streamed event have never attended in-person. This taps into an entire population you may otherwise not reach. While some fear "cannibalizing" in-person numbers by providing an online option, people who have attended in person will likely do so again. Perhaps one year they have a conflict and cannot travel; however, if the show is online they are still engaged that year.
  • Pre- and Post-Show Virtual Meetings - If sponsors and exhibitors are clamoring for one-on-ones, arrange these virtually before or after the show. Pre-show virtual discussions can help everyone focus in on what is truly important to discuss when in-person at the event. Post-show online collaboration provides a ready-made way to follow-up and expand conversations.[Tweet "Year-Round Interaction - Provide an online hub for people to collaborate. #GovEventsBlog"]
  • Year-Round Interaction - Providing an online hub for people to collaborate and share information allows the connections gained at the physical event to grow throughout the year. Instead of only getting in front of people once at the physical event, the online post-event portal becomes a stop on their daily (or weekly...monthly) tours of their social networks.

[Tweet "What makes for a good online meeting and what is better to do in-person? #GovEventsBlog"]We'd love to hear your thoughts on what makes for a good online meeting (be it a conference or one-on-one) and what is better to do in-person. Share your thoughts in the comments.

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