8 Tips To Make Your Virtual or Hybrid Annual Dinner More Interesting
Today, events have transitioned to the digital world. We have no doubt that events will eventually fall back on in-person events after the pandemic, but the experience just won’t be the same. After seeing the power and outreach of online events, it will be impossible not to leverage this new approach and integrate it into any event strategy.
However, in-person events differ in the case that your audiences are 100% committed to attending, as they will want to spend time surrounded by like-minded professionals. This is the real value of physical events, in that it is a fully immersive experience. With online experiences, you will need to take extra care of your virtual attendees and showcase the value of the online experiences you’re providing through your event.
By thinking of virtual events as value-added, engagement-driven experiences, you can create an impactful event that extends well-beyond a computer screen.
One of the best examples of utilizing virtual or hybrid events is during a company annual dinner. Traditionally an in-person event with fellow colleagues mingling together, full of glitz and glam, most company annual dinners (especially in MCO-hit Malaysia) are not able to be held in light of the social distancing regulations set.
Still, utilizing the power of technology, we’re here to show you how you can take your annual dinner virtual (or hybrid) and still make it interesting for your audience.
Your annual dinner event will be determined by the format that you have set. Event planning comes down to the fundamentals. Clearly identifying your format; on whether you’re planning a virtual event or a hybrid event, should be the first order of business.
Both virtual and hybrid events have their own planning and challenges to work out, and you should ensure that the format that is chosen will be able to work together and integrate with your marketing strategy. Ultimately, you should aim to be able to reach out and engage your audiences, whether in-person or virtual.
Annual dinners are just more fun with a theme, but sometimes, it is just not possible to offer the same physical experience on an online platform. However, instead of seeing this as a flaw, it can definitely be transformed into a value-added proposition for your virtual attendees.
When planning the event, keep your virtual audience in mind and set aside some time and resources to craft a unique online experience for them. An example would be to have a virtual-only Best Dressed competition, which would definitely be a great way to keep your virtual audiences engaged throughout the event. In the case of hybrid events, you just have to ensure that both virtual and in-person audiences have as close an experience to each other as possible.
Planning an annual dinner event can easily get overwhelming, especially if you don’t have a proper event schedule in place. This can be jarring, especially when you also have to juggle between in-person event planning and those of the virtual platforms. It helps to have an event planning checklist and schedule so that you can keep your event running on time and without many hitches.
When it comes to virtual or hybrid event, planners can become overwhelmed by the variety of platforms, technologies and tools available at their disposal. Remember, the point of any event is to deliver value to your attendees. Only after establishing a clear understanding of your attendee priorities should you then find the most appropriate tech solution to integrate both audiences.
While in-person and from-home elements of the event are distinct in many ways, allowing both audiences to experience something together can elevate the experience for everyone. During an annual dinner event, food is a must.
This is where hybrid events can shine, as you can also plan or arrange for identical meals in-person attendees were enjoying to be delivered to those at home, if the budget allows. Not only does this help those virtual participants feel like they are a part of the event, they will definitely be talking about it for a long time to come. In fact, it is this sort of thinking outside of the box that makes virtual attendees feel cared for and part of the event.
Entertainment plays a large part in any annual dinner, and keeping your audiences engaged. Whether it’s through virtual or hybrid events, having an entertainment factor is a great way to retain participants and keep their attention. Whether you’re getting a DJ, a band, or even a stand-up comedian to the stage, you’ll definitely be keeping your audience entertained and engaged throughout.
Facilitating interactions between the virtual and in-person audiences is the true challenge of hybrid events. During an annual dinner event, where interaction between colleagues is ever important, it is important to blend audience engagement throughout the event as much as possible and to keep them all equally involved.
The introduction of gamification elements may be a good addition, especially to provide higher levels of engagement between your attendees. This can be done via special apps or systems which awards your attendees for completing tasks as a team, or individually.
It could also be as easy as putting screens across the hall or space to allow remote attendees to have an “on-ground” experience, or pitting colleagues from different departments to work together with those attending in-person to play games across an app. The important thing is to make sure that all your attendees, both virtual and in-person are experiencing the same event, and equally engaged.
Annual dinners usually bring the flair, but sometimes, event organizers often add in the element of surprise to give attendees an additional thrill. After all, everyone likes surprises. This can be done in a multitude of ways, from sending your virtual attendees special gifts like e-vouchers or even curated door gifts specially from the event. We also mentioned delivering food to their doorstep, which is something that will not only be surprising, but also appreciated.
In the end, the purpose is to let even your virtual attendees feel that their participation in the event is appreciated, and to make them feel valued for being a part of your company.
Organizing a virtual or hybrid event is not easy, but teamwork makes the dream work. Having a team of people to help with everything; ensuring that the event is running smoothly, the performances and the flow is very important to ensure that your annual dinner is able to be engaging and smooth-sailing.
While the idea of hosting a virtual or hybrid annual dinner event might be overwhelming to your company, the key is to ensure that you have your planning down to a tee in order to make your annual dinner a fun, engaging and successful one.
At Milestone Production, we’re well-versed with plenty of experience in virtual event planning. Yes, that also includes annual dinners as well. Whether it’s the platform we use, or the different ways to improve interaction between virtual attendees, our solid team will ensure that all your virtual event needs are met, with customisable solutions for events of any size.
Embrace the new norm of virtual events. Go virtual. Go global.
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