Why you should think digital-first when planning in-person events.

Welcome planners. You’ve entered the Matrix! The days of digital planning being an afterthought or a bonus are gone. That means adopting a new approach to planning that puts digital factors front and center—even with in-person events. 

Massive benefits can be gained from applying a digital-first mindset to in-person events, not just for the attendees. Organizers, sponsors, exhibitors, and everyone participating in your event can benefit from “thinking digital.” Alongside obvious benefits like increased efficiency, digital-first event planning creates new opportunities for creativity, expands your network, and saves you money, all while improving sustainability. 

Okay, that’s a lot to take in. So, let’s take it slow. We’ve compiled a guide for digital-first event planning and how it can benefit you, your attendees, and everyone else. 

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Boost your content.

This is what your attendees, especially virtual attendees, come for. Yes, they want to meet new people and connect with old friends, but your event is only as memorable as its content. This includes videos, demonstrations, speakers, Q&As, etc. 

Digital-first thinking is essential to creating memorable content at your event, especially for hybrid events, where many attendees primarily engage with online content. Thinking digital-first allows you to budget for virtual content ahead of time, so your online attendees receive the same quality as in-person guests. 

Creating rich digital content increases your likelihood of connecting with guests, as everyone consumes information differently and at different times. Planning ahead provides time to develop unique supplementary content—such as informational PDFs expanding on ideas hinted at by a premier speaker. 

Thinking digital-first allows you to put the same energy and creativity into digital content. It creates space in your budget and allows for innovative content ideas to be realized. You can even plan your event schedule around key “virtual moments,” such as an early welcome video for online guests or a hybrid social hour where in-person and virtual attendees gather in a virtual space to meet and discuss the most recent keynote.

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Empowered strategizing.

It’s no secret. Technology has radically transformed the event planning industry. Digital-first thinking isn’t the exception but the rule. ChatGPT, Slack, AR and VR technologies have simplified and empowered event planning to remarkable degrees. 

Digital-first thinking produces radical efficiency in event planning. New technologies organize tasks, instantly create possible budgets, and streamline communication. In the early stages, asking, “Can we do this digitally?” might open doors for accomplishing the same goals more simply, cheaply, and effectively. 

The goals of the clients and attendees power event planning. Digital-first thinking allows you to service the goals of online and in-person attendees, providing a balanced experience for everyone. You may even discover unique opportunities to bring these audiences together. 

Digital-first thinking aligns with sustainable event planning, offering eco-friendly avenues to accomplish critical event tasks, such as ticketing and registration. The digital-first philosophy is an empowering foundation that maximizes your planning potential! 

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Expand your network.

One of the great joys of the event planner life is the people we meet along the way. Digital-first thinking expands your networking opportunities by emphasizing the importance of A/V companies to your event planning. 

These partners traditionally handle on-site factors such as lighting, audio, and visual presentations. With the popularity of hybrid and virtual events, these partners are stepping up to join your core event planning council. They bring vital expertise with live streaming, recording, editing, and other broadcast technologies. 

Alongside your go-to sponsors, suppliers, and venue owners, you’ll add a go-to tech partner who ensures your virtual attendees enjoy a seamless event experience. 

More than just your professional network, digital-first event planning connects you and your carefully planned experiences to a significantly wider audience. Thousands more can enjoy the results of your hard work, as the capacity for online attendees is essentially limitless.

Remember, it’s never too late to make new friends! With digital-first event planning, you’re guaranteed to grow your team and audience simultaneously. 

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Better decisions with data.

Your planning is only as good as the information about your audience. The more specific your insights, the more personal you can make events. Personalized events are increasingly trending, making data-driven event planning vital to your success. 

Digital tools, especially emerging AI software, allow event planners to gather unprecedented information about their attendees’ interests, goals, social networks, and any criticisms from past events. You can collect more information than ever; this software can also analyze it to produce actionable insights. 

Data analyzing software can collect detailed information about event planning costs and compare it to projected profits to create more specific, impactful proposals. This advantage helps aspiring event planners secure desired sponsorships. 

Digital-first reliance on data collection allows you to track your audience’s reaction to marketing materials so that you can make adjustments as needed. The same advantage can be applied to the event itself! 

Improved data analysis is one of the greatest benefits emerging technologies has given event planners, opening the door for greater personalization and business growth. 

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Rethinking engagement.

An engaged audience is a happy audience! Thinking digital-first benefits your in-person and virtual attendees by providing unique ways for them to engage with event content. 

Bring virtual and in-person attendees together with event apps that allow them to submit questions to speakers. This connectivity livens up Q&As, bringing your two audiences together for a single session. It also empowers introverted attendees who may not be comfortable raising their hands to engage just as deeply. Let’s hear it for the wallflowers! 

Event apps can track attendees’ interests and make personalized suggestions for other sessions or in-event activities, deepening their engagement. These personalized suggestions extend to social recommendations and ice-breakers, making it easier to meet like-minded attendees.

Engage more efficiently with attendees who may need help using tools built into your event app. Interactive maps, AI guides, or a “support chat” allow attendees to address any issues, questions or concerns on the spot, making for a more enjoyable experience. 

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A digital-first world.

Yes, it’s true. We love our technology! From AI to AR demonstrations, emerging technologies have reshaped the event planning game. Digital-first thinking is essential to creating a memorable experience for in-person and virtual guests. 

Whether you’re going hybrid or in-person only, you can’t ignore the immense benefits of digital-first event planning. Increased efficiency, more accurate budgets, new relationships with tech-savvy partners, and boosted content are some benefits you’ll enjoy as an event planner. 

Like other planning strategies, early adopters will reap the benefits of creating impactful events while positioning themselves as industry leaders. Embrace the digital-first ethos to supercharge your event planning this year and beyond. 

A digital world requires digital thinking!

January 29, 2024

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January 29, 2024

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