The Future of Hybrid Trade Shows and Events

August 11, 2020

Mark Roberts

Mark Roberts serves as CMO of PGi, where he is responsible for all marketing operations worldwide, driving growth opportunities and building brand recognition for the company within the communications market.

In-person events and trade shows are going virtual, a significant shift forced by the COVID-19 pandemic. But the question is, will these events remain virtual for the foreseeable future?

A recent survey conducted by The Harris Poll on PGi’s behalf found more than half (54%) of employed Americans who now work from home due to the pandemic said they are not comfortable going to large, in-person work-related conferences or events this year. This unwillingness to attend in-person events should come as no surprise.

Many organizations are saying that even when virtual events become physical again, they will require a hybrid approach so attendees have options to remain safe and comfortable. This means some aspects of the show, whether exhibitor booths, keynote speeches or networking gatherings, will remain virtual for greater access and reach.

Going virtual is not a sacrifice.

Organizations, both large and small, are transitioning physical events into digital experiences that are equally compelling and engaging. In addition to cutting travel and other show-related costs, attendees find this is a better way to attend an event, while hosts find such events often increase ROI and attendance. That’s because virtual events have the opportunity to be more engaging than in-person events, and they are often more scalable and can easily grow with an organization.

Planning and executing a virtual meeting is more than setting up a camera and hoping it goes according to plan. It requires the same planning and attention to detail — everything from a script for presenters to handouts for attendees and an agenda — to lock down third-party speakers, thought leaders and experts. 

The key to success.

Taking an event virtual isn’t just about executing it quickly. It’s about increasing the connection among attendees. To do that, first, take a moment to define the event’s goals and what you hope to accomplish. Then, create a program around those goals. 

It’s also imperative that an organization look at an event as the audience would. Look at the agenda, the sessions and the schedule’s flow to make sure the event is engaging. 

It also requires laying the groundwork for success before the event. Once the plan is in place, set aside time for ample preparation for everyone involved, including the speakers and the team members managing the technology, so the event itself goes as expected. 

The event is just the beginning.

Remember, the event should serve to strengthen existing relationships and build new ones. As part of the process, consider what the post-event steps will be and decide how to launch them to not lose any momentum.

The shrewd organizations employ advanced analytics to measure success and understand how attendees engage with their brand. They also know they can create content based on an event, archive it on a microsite and re-engage post-event with attendees or reach new audiences who could not attend.

Done well, virtual events can lead to more immersive experiences for attendees, offer longevity through recordings and provide an even stronger sense of community.


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HERE, hosting responsible meetings and caring for our communities are top priorities. Through its 'Focused on What Matters: Embracing Humanity and Protecting the Planet' philosophy, MGM Resorts commits to creating a more sustainable future, while striving to make an impact in the lives of employees, guests, and the communities in which it operates. Water Stewardship Efforts MGM Resorts understands the importance of using water efficiently, especially in the desert destination of Las Vegas. Conserving water has always been part of the mission, but MGM Resorts has expanded its ambition into water stewardship. In 2022, MGM Resorts President and CEO Bill Hornbuckle signed the CEO Water Mandate—a UN Global Compact initiative mobilizing business leaders to advance water stewardship. MGM Resorts International was the first gaming company to take this important step. MGM Resorts replaced 200,000 square feet of real grass with drought-tolerant landscaping in Las Vegas. MGM Resorts pledges to reduce water withdrawal intensity by 33% by 2025 and by 35% by 2030. From 2007-2021, use of more than 5.6 billion gallons of water was avoided because of conservation efforts. Caring for One Another MGM Resorts’ Food Donations Program collects and preserves unserved food from conventions held at MGM Resorts properties, then safely donates to food insecure people in the community. Since the program’s launch in 2016, more than 3.7 million meals toward a 2025 goal of 5 million meals have been donated into the community. Donations include: Unserved perishable prepared foods from events Perishable unprepared food from MGM Resorts’ kitchens Nonperishable food items from minibars and warehouses The collaboration with Southern Nevada’s primary food bank, Three Square, has developed the infrastructure needed to safely collect, transport, and store food from MGM Resorts properties in Las Vegas, reducing food waste while serving the community. Fostering Diversity and Inclusion To MGM Resorts, a diverse and talented workforce is essential to success. By cultivating innovative strategies that consider multiple perspectives and viewpoints, the company creates an inclusive workplace culture that benefits its employees and community. MGM Resorts takes pride in being a welcoming home for veterans, individuals with disabilities, people from diverse backgrounds, LGBTQ+ community members, and more. This commitment to inclusion is reflected in the company's recruitment and hiring practices and its social responsibility initiatives. From the workplace to the community, MGM Resorts' commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion remains unwavering, and its efforts continue to create a more equitable and sustainable world for all. MGM Resorts understands its responsibility to contribute to the social and economic progress of the communities in which it operates. HERE, we embrace humanity.