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5 Advantages of Virtual & Hybrid Events for Life Sciences and 3 Challenges

February 25, 2021 Ryan Gunn

Not too long ago, nearly all life sciences events were in-person. As the COVID-19 pandemic forced events to happen remotely, event planners were suddenly expected to be technology experts, marketing gurus, and technical support on top of their already challenging jobs. That’s a lot of pressure. 

The good news is that there are tons of virtual and hybrid options available to facilitate remote aspects of an event. Even better news — with the right solutions in place there are clear advantages to hosting a virtual event. As our industry is forced to shift in-person events to virtual and hybrid, event planners are discovering innovative ways to save money, increase convenience, and engage audiences. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention! 

In this article, we share five advantages of having a virtual component for your event, along with three challenges you’ll want to prepare for.

Advantage 1: Cut costs and increase revenue.

Cost is the number one factor we hear about from clients. Virtual meetings and events are more cost-effective than in-person meetings because they do not require the travel and hotel costs, event space, food and beverage, and more. 

Hybrid events can be comparable to in-person events, as they do retain many of the same considerations. Cost savings can still be achieved since not all audience members will be physically present. You can plan for smaller event spaces and less food and beverage. 

In addition, you can offset costs with higher revenue from registration fees since the virtual aspect allows for greater reach. This results in an overall lower cost-per-head than in-person events.

Advantage 2: Add convenience and time-savings.

As much as we all miss traveling, let’s face it — travel is expensive and inconvenient. Travel can also be a barrier for those who aren’t able to easily get away from home. 

Virtual meetings are convenient and require no travel time. Hybrid events allow audience members maximum flexibility so they can decide what format is most convenient for them. In comparison, in-person events require travel time, often by plane, which can take hours of productivity away from presenter and attendee schedules. 

Advantage 3: Facilitate collaboration and sharing.

Presentations at large, in-person conferences and events can often feel one-sided and didactic to audience members. It can be a challenge to collaborate or measure audience engagement.  

With the help of content engagement technology and digital collaborative tools, virtual and hybrid events can be more collaborative, productive, and engaging for everyone involved. 

To see an example, watch a short video of Array’s content engagement solution in action:

 

EM promo 2.0 Short

 

Advantage 4: Expand your audience.

Virtual and hybrid technology allows anyone, anywhere to connect via internet or phone. 

People that might not be able to attend an in-person event are often able to attend virtual or hybrid events because of the reduced cost and time commitment. 

Including a virtual element can also help you reach critical audience members—such as key opinion leaders for an advisory board—who may have busy schedules or other restrictions. 

Advantage 5: Reduce planning effort and stress.

Although virtual meetings and events come with their own unique set of challenges, in general,

they require less advanced planning than in-person events since you don’t have to book a venue ahead of time, coordinate with food and beverage vendors, or make considerations for travel.

Hybrid events, on the other hand, require the same, if not more planning than a standard in-person event. However, The right technology partner can reduce that effort and stress. For example, here are some of the services our client success team provides:

  • Support your presenters with software training prior to your event, audience instruction at the start, and technical support during the presentation.
  • Collaborate with our program management team to ensure smooth planning and execution of your event so that stakeholder goals can be exceeded.
  • Minimize the risk of technical issues with a dedicated event technician who solves your problems before you even need to ask.

Now that we’ve covered some key advantages of virtual and hybrid events, you may be getting

excited about the possibilities. Not so fast! Always keep in mind that regardless of their

advantages, you should only choose a virtual or hybrid format if they support you in achieving your event goals. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention some disadvantages to these formats that can derail your event’s success.

Here are three issues that can easily be mitigated with advanced planning:

Challenge 1: Digital distraction.

In a digital era where multitasking is a life skill, audience members checking email, seeing what’s new on social media, or responding to texts can quickly diminish your event’s impact. 

Smartphones and laptops make distractions effortless, and since virtual attendees are already on their personal devices, you need to anticipate distractions and have a plan for keeping audiences attention on the presentation instead of their notifications. Remember, the goal here is not just to extend your event’s reach, but also increase engagement.

Challenge 2: Measuring impact.

You may be shocked to discover that a large number of Life Sciences events are planned with no clearly defined key performance indicators (KPIs). 

Stakeholders want information that allows them to make informed business decisions, improve future events, and ultimately create better patient outcomes. Some virtual meeting technology does not easily facilitate the collection of data to measure KPIs, making it hard to demonstrate value to your stakeholders. You’ll want to closely consider technology that not only engages onsite and remote participants but also collects uniform data for you to analyze and draw insights from.

Challenge 3: Technology failures and poor audience experience.

There is no excuse for a technical failure. Your meeting technology must work simply, effectively, and, most importantly, be useful for your audience. 

Any failure of these three components can result in you not meeting stakeholder goals and your audience leaving without feeling an impact. 

Common technical issues include poor internet connection, an inconsistent experience between in-person and remote participants, and “Death by PowerPoint” resulting from a lack of engagement features.

Hybrid events pose even greater challenges, as in-person and virtual audiences may have vastly different experiences of the same event. If your event doesn’t have a good balance, one audience or the other will suffer and be disappointed. The ideal solution is to have technology that enables both in-person and virtual audiences to interact with presenters and content in the same way. Array’s content engagement solution provides unique engagement features to both audiences — with managed event iPads® for in-person attendees and via a secure web portal for virtual — so that both audiences remain engaged and satisfied.

Did this article give you ideas for your next event? You’ll find more in-depth information and best practices in our free whitepaper: The Essential Guide to Planning Virtual and Hybrid Events.

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