How to make digital and hybrid events a success

Are you missing out on business opportunities and potential new clients due to the lack of trade fairs and events? Then it’s time to consider alternative formats like digital and hybrid events! In this post, we explain the main success factors and demonstrate how – in line with our motto – a digital event can move people and brands.

by Juri Camagni

The world of trade fairs and events was at a standstill during the pandemic. All real-world events were cancelled. As a result, many companies were missing out on business opportunities and potential new clients. It will be a while until in-person events are held again to the usual extent. For this reason, companies are well advised to evaluate and try out alternative formats for communication and presentations, such as digital and hybrid events. But how do these events work? For many of us, digital and hybrid events are terra incognita, and a complex topic that requires further research. Ultimately, a digital event should also be an experience for the participants. In this post, we explain the main success factors and demonstrate how – in line with our motto – a digital event can move people and brands.

Live or digital? A comparison

Naturally, a digital experience can never completely replace real life, and face-to-face encounters remain unique – something that inspires and moves people. However, with the right tools and a clever approach, digital events can be an interactive experience for all the senses with a long-lasting impact.

One major advantage of a digital event is that it can be accessed from practically anywhere. Furthermore, the sequence of events is no longer restricted to one location or a single schedule. Digital events can be recorded and watched later, therefore generating long-lasting brand and product transfer. When it comes to hybrid events, participants can decide for themselves if they want to attend in person or online.

Portrait von Juri Camagni, CMO und Mitglied der Geschäftsleitung von Messerli
Juri Camagni, CMO of Andreas Messerli AG

«It makes sense to question the linearity of a single event and rethink how we structure events in general.»

An event campaign in place of a single event

We believe the main advantage of digital events is that they can be extended. They allow us to question the linearity of a single event and rethink events as a whole. A one-day event that is packed with many different topics and a great deal of content can be split up and held over several days to create an entire event campaign. The advantages are clear: more frequent events mean more engagement and involvement. Topics can be communicated for a longer time, thereby increasing a company’s presence with their target group.

Dramaturgy is key

Why are we willing to watch a two-hour film without interruption? It’s the artful dramaturgy of the images and the storylines that are woven together to create an experience. An arc of tension that never breaks. If the story is boring, we’ll change the channel. The same is true of digital events. Because perception at these events is limited to seeing and hearing, participants will change the channel without exciting dramaturgy.

For this reason, it makes sense to pay special attention to event dramaturgy during the planning stages. Tension starts building before the event itself, giving participants something to look forward to. During the event, the tension reaches its peak, subsequently leaving the audience feeling good about having attended the event. To ensure a successful outcome, you need specialists who understand how to structure the dramaturgy of an event so that participants remain engaged, actively participate and absorb the message. Specialists such as Messerli’s storytelling team.

Transferring brand experiences to virtual space

Is a dusty bookshelf the right background for a CEO’s opening remarks? Or is studio quality a better choice? At Messerli, we consider the spatial impact of brands every day. And we draw on this experience and expertise to transfer brand experiences to virtual space. Online as in the real world, a compelling presentation strengthens and communicates a company’s values and image.

Digital events need to highlight everything that sets a company apart. This starts with the design of the (electronic) invitation and the online platform: both elements must be seamlessly integrated into the company’s presentation. When it comes to the actual livestream of the event, the real or virtual studio must embody the company’s brand world, much like a trade fair booth or a showroom. In this case, the decisive factor is a company’s ability to meet or even exceed attendees’ expectations. After all, a consistent brand transfer in virtual space fosters trust in a brand and is therefore an important success factor. In order for this to work, experts who can advise their clients and demonstrate the potential of a professional digital appearance are needed.

Encourage interaction and integrate live components

People always want to be part of the action and contribute. It’s therefore important to give attendees a chance to get involved in digital events. Be sure to plan suitable live and interaction elements. Naturally, not all presentations at an online event need to be live. Pre-produced films or presentations have the advantage that they can be planned and executed far enough in advance and then arranged in such a way that they appear to be streamed live. A live moderator can seamlessly integrate these so-called «simu-live» presentations into live broadcasts and give participants the feeling of being close to the action. If you combine this with opportunities for interaction such as surveys, votes or a live chat (e.g. for Q&A sessions), this leads to greater involvement and higher retention.

Digital events are here to stay

We feel confident that real-life experiences such as trade fairs, events and concerts will once again become part of our everyday lives. And we will have a lot of catching up to do, as futurologist Dr Martina Kühne from Kühne Wicki Future Staff confirmed in an interview in our customer magazine, Brandworld. However, we also believe that digital events will not disappear entirely but will supplement in-person events as hybrid components. After all, broadcasting trade fair appearances or events online can significantly increase your reach, offering companies a great deal of potential.

Do you want to find out more about the potential of digital or hybrid events? Contact us for a non-binding consultation or check out our webinar (german only). You can find out more about our approach and get an idea of how you can move people and brands with your digital events.

Discover how we can transfer your communications to the virtual world. From planning to conception all the way to recording and broadcasting livestreams: we are here to help you realise hybrid and digital events.