It seems that we are all doing our fair share of pivoting these days. As an industry centered around people gathering together, we have found ourselves in a position of pivoting a lot. The team at The Conference Center at GTCC is dedicated to offering clients the best event options so they can give attendees outstanding meeting experiences in a safe environment. A great option to consider in today’s climate is a hybrid experience. A hybrid event offers attendees the opportunity to attend in person, virtually, or a combination of both. Here are some tips to keep in mind and help you plan a successful hybrid meeting experience.

Define “hybrid” for your event

Determine what form of hybrid best fits your programming needs. Your hybrid event might consist of 50% of participants meeting in-person at the event site while the other 50% tune in via remote access. Another type of hybrid experience may feature some sessions held with a live audience while other sessions are live-streamed with the participants spread throughout the event space. Or, your hybrid event may be a combination of both of these examples.

Strong internet connection

A strong and reliable internet connection is paramount when offering virtual elements to your programming. Make sure you have the best connection possible and frequently test to make sure you do not have “dead” spots. Make sure attendees know how to log in and connect with the Wi-Fi by sharing the information in pre-meeting materials, reminder correspondence and signage around meeting rooms and on social media.

Quality equipment

It is important to make sure all recording devices and microphones are top quality and in good working order. It would be ideal if the event space had the most recent generation of the top equipment available. It is also important to enlist the services of professionals to handle all live streaming and session recording so you are confident the remote portions of your programs are recorded and streamed without a hitch.

Have on-site technical support

Even with great attention to planning and detail, sometimes things still go wrong. Considering technology usage is higher than ever these days, it is a good idea to have an on-site technical support team available to immediately address any issues with internet connection or anything else related to technology. The Conference Center at GTCC has an experienced team ready to assist you with all your technology needs.

Be mindful of both audiences

Since you will be offering two types of experiences for attendees, be mindful of how each audience receives programs throughout the event. Carefully think through each program and make adjustments to ensure that the in-person and virtual attendees are getting the most out of each session. Clearly communicate how on-site participants and remote participants can best connect with each other, with session speakers and event coordinators.

Offer social media engagement and networking opportunities

Networking is a big part of any event, so make sure you create opportunities for participants to connect and network. Social media can be a helpful tool to facilitate engagement among all attendees, helping everyone feel and stay connected. Create hashtags for social media platforms or have dedicated chatrooms for participants to post or “talk” with each other. Have virtual meetings or breakout sessions via Zoom or other meeting platform. Offer a virtual happy hour that includes all participants.

Make sure attendees have all necessary materials in advance

Mail or deliver all event materials well in advance to virtual attendees. This includes pre-event reading materials, schedules, contact information for registrants and coordinators, goody bags or other contributions from sponsors. Make sure your virtual guests are just as prepared for a successful experience as your in-person guests.

Record programming for later viewing

If possible, record all sessions, whether they are delivered to an in-person or remote audience, and make them available to all participants on-demand, even if for a limited period of time. This will not only be a nice perk for attendees, but a great way to reinforce the messages presented.At The Conference Center at GTCC, we are constantly adapting our approaches for event planning and hosting in the ever-changing landscape of Covid-19. The hybrid event experience is a great option to consider, especially in today’s climate. We are committed to doing all we can to make every event experience the absolute best. We welcome the opportunity to help you plan an event that includes a successful hybrid experience.

When it comes to choosing a venue for your next conference or professional event, you’ve probably considered things like how it fits into your budget and whether it’s right for your audience size. However, it’s important to consider the broader locations of venues you’re considering. A centrally-located venue can make your event truly special and show your guests that you planned your event with them in mind, boosting attendance and making your event even more desirable. This is true for several reasons.

First, it shows that you’ve thought through how much attending your conference will cost your guests on top of any ticket costs or membership dues required to get in. This is especially important if your guests will be personally footing any bills rather than their companies.

For example, if a large portion of your audience will have to fly in for your event, a location closer to the airport cuts down on Uber, cab, or rental car costs. Choosing a central location shows that you’ve considered other price-sensitivities that your guests may have. A centrally-located venue will be near restaurants, hotels, and other activities in a broader range of price points than choosing an exclusive destination-conference venue.

In addition, it can improve your conference’s attendance because a central location is more reachable for guests of all types. Perhaps some of your guests are busy parents who have a hard stop time to pick up their kids from soccer practice. Choosing a central location means that more of these guests can stay longer, even if they do have to leave a little early.

They’re also more likely to attend your event overall because they won’t feel like they’re wasting money if they do need to miss the last half hour of the event rather than the several hours they might need at a more out-of-the-way location. Even guests who must travel further to reach your event are more likely to attend if they know they’ll be able to reach the venue easily from the highway rather than navigate an unfamiliar city’s crowded downtown streets.

Finally, a centrally-located conference or event venue is the right choice if you’re looking for a unique setting. While it may be tempting to go with a standard hotel banquet hall or other venue, choosing something a bit different can impress your audience and keep them interested when your next event rolls around. Because it’s neither in the heart of a major city or in the middle of nowhere, a central venue can offer the easy access that your guests require with the more spacious ambiance that will make your event extraordinary.

If you’re ready to discover the perfect centrally-located venue for your next conference or event, schedule a tour with us today! Our team of dedicated event planners will ensure that you can create your ideal event without breaking the bank.

For many, planning an event comes down to execution and proper planning. Having a smooth experience with everything from scheduling your event and booking your venue to hiring caterers and hosting guest speakers can be difficult to achieve. However, there are some strategies that, if taken advantage of, can really optimize your conference planning experience.

Get Ahead
Sooner is always better when planning a conference. Lots of road blocks can appear out of nowhere, so it is essential to make sure you have enough time to take care of them and find solutions. It is recommended that you give you or your company anywhere from 3-6 months’ notice when scheduling. This is an ample amount of time to ensure everything runs well and doesn’t get derailed by any hiccups in the way.

Communicate
Communication is key, most important is getting everyone on the same page. This involves making sure that your attendees know how, when, and where the conference is taking place. One way to make sure this happen is to create email blasts for those attending. These email blasts should include when and where the conference is, an explanation of why the event is being held, and a call to action for why they should attend. The key is to find ways to create anticipation in your delivery. You want those attending to be excited for the conference well before the actual event

Plan for Everything
When we attend conferences as an invitee and not as a planner, it’s easy to lose sight of all the work that went into planning the conference. And as someone who is merely attending it is easy to think that anyone could prepare one of these large-scale conferences. The answer to that, however, is that it is rare that, while planning a conference, everything goes one hundred percent as planned. It is essential to have a backup plan. These plans can include anything from having a backup caterer to having a few volunteers on hand at the venue to help out in case of planning emergencies.

Taking on the task of scheduling a conference is tall one. Not everyone wants to take on this job! If you find yourself in this role, be sure to remember each of these tips. Get ahead of the game and begin planning 3-6 months prior, communicate actively with everyone involved, and have backup plans for when the unexpected happens. Lastly, be sure to create a committee to be a part of your planning team this will help break up the work and reduce the stress on yourself. If you follow these steps in planning your conference will be done with ease!

If you’re ready to tackle planning your organization’s next event, contact us today! Here at the Conference Center at GTCC, our dedicated event planners work to make your life easier, serving as a single point of contact across each step of the process. Learn more about us or schedule a tour today!

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