Have It Both Ways: In Person and Online Events

In the post-COVID world of events, attendees get to have their cake and eat it too. A recent survey from Government Executive's Market Connections showed that in-person attendance is rising while online attendance is staying steady. In this latest study, over half of respondents said they had attended one to three in-person events over the past year. Three in 10 respondents have participated in four to six webinars per year. These numbers mirror what we found in surveying our members late last year.

With public health concerns largely gone, there are new decision points as to what makes an event worth attending. Continue reading

Events Go or No Go? Maybe Both?

I recently had the pleasure of participating in a virtual panel discussion organized by Government Marketing University titled, "Fusing Government and Industry: Event Go or No Go." The webinar looked at the current reality of in-person event planning and attendance using research findings as well as anecdotal observations and experiences.

Market Connections conducted a survey of government event attendees in January to get a pulse on their appetite for attending face-to-face (F2F) events. The findings of this research echoed the responses we received to our most recent survey. People are slowly but surely reintroducing in-person events into their schedules and planning. The latest survey found 40% of respondents plan to attend at least one in-person event in 2022. This is a considerable jump from the 25% that reported attending a 2021 event. Continue reading

A Real Look at Virtual Events

It's been a little over a year since we last looked at the state of virtual events. Since that post, streaming has become more mainstream with the launch of Facebook Live. The rise in mobile device usage and access to high bandwidth connections has fueled the viability of video in recent months. Its popularity -- and power -- is growing at an amazing rate thanks in part to Google and Facebook's efforts to promote video through prioritizing it in their algorithms.

While every virtual event does not require video (many audio and slide-driven webinars are very valuable and popular), it is a dynamic way to hold the attention of virtual attendees. It also serves to broaden the reach of live events to an online audience.[Tweet "Virtual events can broaden the reach of live events to an online audience. #GovEventsBlog"] In 2016, the Super Bowl, the Democratic and Republican National Conventions and the debates were live streamed creating a second venue for people to watch and interact online. While the Federal events we list on GovEvents are nowhere near the scope of those events, there is a real need and opportunity for virtual events in the federal market. Continue reading

Catching Pokémon Go Fever: How to Infect Your Event

Looking back at the summer of 2016, Pokémon Go jumps out as the craze of the season. From getting sedentary kids up off the couch and walking, to providing exercise for shelter dogs, Pokémon Go has become a social phenomenon. While the app may seem revolutionary, it is really just a new type of check-in tool in the same vein as Four Square and geocaching.[Tweet "Catching Pokémon Go fever: how to infect your event. #GovEventsBlog"]

With this in mind, we took a look at how the excitement people experience over hatching an egg or catching Pikachu can be applied to events.

  1. Blending of real and virtual - Seeing cartoon monsters within your actual environment is a huge draw of the app. This is augmented reality, a close relative of virtual reality. In augmented reality, digital components are added to the real environment; this contrasts with virtual reality where the environment is completely digital but mimics a real world space. While virtual reality has become a frequent tool in consumer events, it is unlikely to catch on quickly in the government world due to expense and complexity. Augmented reality, however, is easier to insert into government events with easy to use apps available.[Tweet "Augmented reality is easier to insert into government events. #GovEventsBlog"]  Consider adding Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) or geolocation technologies that serve up information to people when they are in a particular area of your venue. You can also think of augmented reality as an extension of hybrid events. You could pull virtual attendees into your event via Skype or streaming video.
  2. Exercise - There is an overall trend in events to serve healthier food options and to build in time for more breaks for exercise and fresh air. The success Pokémon Go has had with people at all levels of fitness shows that people will get active if they have a goal to motivate them. To bring this to your event, think about planning a pedometer competition that encourages people to walk the show floor.
  3. Fun - Government event organizers should not be scared of the F-word: Fun! The wide-ranging appeal of Pokémon Go shows that gamification works no matter the age or demographic. Look for ways to build competitions into your events to get people mingling and collaborating with one another such as scavenger hunts or trivia contests.[Tweet "Build competitions into your events to get people mingling. #GovEventsBlog"]
  4. Meet people on their phones - love it or hate it, we live on our phones. While Nintendo (owners of Pokémon Go) resisted the urge to go mobile - wanting to cling to their legacy of hardware-based games - they found that "giving in" to the mobile trend pays huge rewards. While you want people to focus on what is happening at your event, you may as well embrace the fact that they will use their phones. Make it work to your benefit by promoting your event on social media or using apps to push information to attendees throughout the event.
  5. It does not have to be perfect - Pokémon Go has had plenty of glitches, from servers crashing to multiple requests for logins, but generally users have excused these because of the overall fun experience they're having. Don't feel like the technology you roll out has to be perfect. Let attendees know you are trying something new and there may be glitches, but the best way to improve the tech is to start using it (you can equate this to the agile software development philosophy). Give new technologies a try. Even if they fail, it likely won't have a negative impact on overall event satisfaction or plans to return for future events.

We'd love to hear from you. What takeaways have you learned while playing or watching people play Pokémon Go? How can you apply those to your everyday life and work?

Living In A Streaming World

We've talked about how to get quality video and how to best produce hybrid events, but there is a third element to the video and event equation - attendee streaming. With apps like Meerkat, Glide, Periscope, and others (not to mention just general smart phone video), attendees now have the power to share live video of your event.

Video streaming is one technology that we must accept is here to stay. How do we ensure that we are still putting our best face forward when we are not in control of how it is delivered?[Tweet "Video streaming is here to stay. Put your best face forward at your events #GovEventsBlog"]
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