At the beginning of 2022, more than 90% of event professionals stated they planned on returning to in-person events as conditions allow. This combination of in-person and virtual events marks a new hybrid era in which exhibitors can truly maximize their investments in events. No longer restricted to just virtual or physical events, they can reach decision-makers in their preferred format and at their ideal time.
Now, it’s up to event organizers to maximize their exhibitor offering and demonstrate the true value of hybrid.
Hybrid Leads: The New Source of Exhibitor Value
In a recent market survey conducted by Markletic, 57% of respondents stated that they would rather attend the in-person portion of a hybrid event than its virtual counterpart. However, although many attendees are excited to participate in person, nearly half would still choose to watch the event virtually. This is why it’s so critical for exhibitors to have both a virtual and in-person booth to reach decision-makers.
By investing in both virtual and in-person booths, exhibitors can gather quality leads in quantity. To sort through these leads, exhibitors will need the ability to visualize and compare the attendee data they capture. Having a single dashboard for both virtual and in-person leads is ideal. With a modern leads dashboard, exhibitors can sort through leads using attributes such as company name, date captured, or lead source.
How Have Booth Requirements Changed?
Traditionally, exhibitors would design and order a booth, enlist company representatives to staff that booth, assign booth passes, and gather leads through badge scanning. The process changed when virtual events became the standard, and changed again when hybrid events took hold. Now exhibitors are tasked with meeting the requirements for both virtual and physical booths.
For a hybrid experience, the first requirement is design. Exhibitors will need to provide images, logos, and videos for their digital booth and their physical booth. Be sure to include sizes and formats for these assets well in advance. To help exhibitors maximize their engagement, the digital booth should be coordinated with the physical booth to create a consistent experience for any in-person attendees who visit your exhibitor catalog before, during, or after the live event.
Another requirement that has changed is the number of staffers needed for each booth. Asking in-person booth staff to monitor online chats with virtual booth visitors is ill-advised and can result in missed conversations. Instead, exhibitors will need to assign some individuals to their in-person booth and others to monitor their online discussions with attendees.
As part of your exhibitor pricing and packaging, consider offering moderator support. Depending on the number of virtual attendees, one moderator may be enough to oversee multiple exhibitors’ booths. Help your exhibitors procure an adequate number of staff members in advance by letting them know the projected ratio of virtual and in-person attendees.
Boosting Attendees’ Engagement With Exhibitors
Many attendees (in person, hybrid, and virtual) are actively looking for new tools and vendors to help them grow their business. The way you present exhibitors to attendees will either help or hinder them as they research new vendors. One of the simplest ways to help attendees is by organizing your exhibitor catalog with tabs or pages for different industries or sponsorship levels. To drive even more exhibitor engagement, send attendees recommendations based on interest expressed through registration.
As exhibitors begin presenting in person again, many will be interested in sponsoring a live session. Consider recording live sessions so virtual attendees can access their session as well. Allowing exhibitors to showcase their sponsored sessions in their virtual booth will enable attendees to glean even more value from exhibitors online.
To discover more tips for hybrid delivery, read our latest e-book, Hybrid Event Best Practices: Delivering the Ideal Attendee Experience.