The motivations of people attending and exhibiting at Cyber Hitec will not be different if the event was physical, and we all were heading to Texas as initially planned. Knowledge, networking and gaining business leads are what people expect, and all the successful online events must check those boxes.
The challenge for the organisation is the same in essence, regardless of being a virtual event. Have an appealing and robust lineup of sessions, exhibitors and education, inspiring speakers, relevant content and opportunity for the attendees to network.
Like many of my fellow hospitality technology professionals, I have attended numerous online events since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, and the ones that I found most successful and rewarding had some things in common:
- The essential points to enable a successful online event are technology and bandwidth. A robust technological platform with the capacity to support a broad audience and to facilitate a frictionless experience in terms of streamed content, real-time interaction and ease of use.Abundant bandwidth and proper geographical distribution of content that allows the appropriate streaming of multimedia regardless of the location of the attendees.
- Besides the streaming capabilities successful events made available to all the attendees’ video conferencing embedded features which allowed breakouts and even one on one meetings to take place without the need to abandon the event platform
- A proper onboarding process for all attendees to allow familiarisation with the platform.
- Content is king in a virtual event. Regardless of all the technological improvements and excellent platforms, the networking experience will not be as enriching and fulfilling so the quality of the content must be word-class to engage attendees.
- Don’t try to mimic the physical event. The dynamics of an online event are different. Attention span decreases, timezones of the attendees influence their availability and pace and meaningful networking, and serendipity rarely occurs.
- For the exhibitors, the best option I have seen is making available their solutions in a self-service mode allowing attendees to try and interact at their own pace
- On-demand content must be as good as the content of the live sessions. The audience is global and will adapt attendance to its work and personal schedules. Being outside the USA in a different timezone should never penalise the attendee.
To conclude, I believe that Cyber Hitec has all the chances to be a very successful event. However, expectations are high. If usually, Hitec USA is the hospitality technology event of the year in 2020 it will be the ONLY significant event of an industry accustomed to meet and network regularly.