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Adapting Event Marketing Strategies for a Remote and Hybrid Work Landscape: Navigating the Future

The event industry landscape continues to evolve, especially as remote and hybrid work models seem to be here to stay. While this shift presents challenges, it also presents significant opportunities for marketers who are willing to adapt. 


While virtual events certainly aren't new, they did gain notoriety during the peak of COVID. But where do they stand now? Virtual events darling Hopin was acquired for a mere $15 million despite once being valued at over $7 billion. Hublio's CEO announced layoffs recently, thanks partly to the collapse of the virtual events industry. Despite this, Market.us predicts the virtual event market size is expected to realize a CAGR of over 18% from 2023 to 2032. This fluctuation in demand means that marketers and event planners must continue diversifying their approach to meet their audiences exactly where they are. So, while pandemic-driven virtual events may be a thing of the past, strategy-driven hybrid and virtual events are here to stay. 


Challenges in the Virtual and Hybrid Landscape


Of course, despite this immense potential, planning and executing successful virtual or hybrid events takes time and effort. Everything from technical difficulties to engagement issues and the struggle to create immersive, well-rounded attendee experiences remains top of mind for event planners. Not to mention the well-documented 'Zoom fatigue' - we've all spent far too much time in front of our screens over the past few years, meaning that event planners need to find innovative ways to capture and maintain their audience's interest. One key to overcoming this obstacle is interactive elements, including virtual networking sessions, Q&A segments, and real-time interactive surveys and response tools. 


There is also a delicate balance to strike when it comes to your content and how to repurpose content for both online and offline use. Insights gathered from online interactions shape the development of offline content and vice versa. This interplay of online and offline dynamics signifies a more holistic and adaptive approach to event planning and highlights the agility required for future success in the industry. 


Opportunities in Remote Team Collaboration


Remote work has also become increasingly commonplace and will be around for a while for many sectors. Event marketing is no exception - so how can you ensure the most effective collaboration with your remote planning team? Collaboration tools like Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and project management tools like Asana, Monday, and Basecamp have become critical tools for ensuring seamless communication and organization among remote teams. 


There are immense benefits to using the right tools for collaboration, including:

  • Improved flexibility, coordination, and communication with your remote team

  • Better management of your workflows with improved efficiency 

  • Increased engagement with your stakeholders


Enhanced team communication leads to a more cohesive team culture. Virtual team-building activities and regular check-ins can also help foster a more positive (and productive!) work environment for your team.




What Lies Ahead: The Future of Event Planning and Execution


The next five years in event planning will be marked by even more technological advancements, targets for sustainability initiatives, a spotlight on inclusion and diverse representation, and a focus on data-driven decisions and strategies. When it comes to tech advancements, nothing is quite as prevalent as artificial intelligence (AI) - and there are many ways to use AI when it comes to event planning and execution. With the ability to accurately predict trends and audience behavior to increase engagement and AI-driven personalization of everything from content and messaging to event preferences, investment in cutting-edge tech is critical for creating memorable, immersive, seamless attendee experiences. 


Sustainability is another key trend for event marketers to focus on. Minimizing carbon footprints and ensuring eco-friendly practices are crucial for many event participants. It can be challenging to execute, but thankfully, there are increasingly available resources to help. As HireSpace's event trends prediction blog states, According to GBTA's June 2022 Sustainability Report, 90% of organizations said they required professional guidance in their sustainability journey. But the organization's 2023 report showed that action is being taken, with 71% of travel buyers and suppliers saying that they now have a sustainability supervisor or team in the company, which is 5% higher than last year.


The event planning world also continues to make significant strides towards fostering more inclusion, diversity, and representation, recognizing how critical it is to create spaces that reflect truly global perspectives and experiences. Some areas of continued improvement include diverse speaker lineups representing a broad spectrum of backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, and perspectives, more accessible and inclusive design with considerations for all abilities, enhanced cultural sensitivity, and increased education and training for event planners.

 

Additionally, data remains an increasingly important focus for event planners, especially with agility and adaptability at the top of marketers' minds. The correct data can influence everything from which venues you select, how to personalize your content and messaging, the kinds of speakers that will resonate the most, how to optimize the logistics of your event, and the best channels for follow-up to ensure engagement and conversions. 


But the one thing that brings all of these topics together is innovation. Consumers and event attendees have increasingly high expectations around seamless experiences and personalization - and they want their events delivered in new and exciting ways. Here are a couple of my favorite recent events that fit the bill:


SXSW (South by Southwest): This annual festival brings together some of the brightest minds in a cross-collaborative industry fusion that incorporates media, music, and tech. A cult favorite, the yearly event has launched products and people, including the Oscar-nominated film Bridesmaids and chart-topping acts like Amy Winehouse and Bon Iver. But the inclusion of tech and such top-of-mind topics like generative AI and ethics showcases why bringing diverse groups together can be so powerful. 


HubSpot's INBOUND: An annual three-day conference hosted by HubSpot, INBOUND has mastered adapting to audience needs. After executing a hugely successful virtual-only event in 2021, they decided to run a hybrid event in 2022 (and again in 2023) - recognizing that many were uncomfortable with travel and in-person events but that others were ready to get back out there. They offered a variety of ways for attendees on both sides to connect, implementing online networking features and a dedicated event app.


It's clear that the evolution of event marketing in an always-changing industry landscape presents both challenges and opportunities - but by embracing innovation, fostering effective team collaboration (wherever your team may be), and staying on top of industry trends, event planners and their teams can navigate this transformation successfully. 


Need help navigating your events next year? Contact Segment Agency to learn how we can help. 


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