The evolving event landscape and the rapid shift to hybrid and onsite-only events present event planners with a mix of uncertainty and opportunity. Taking full advantage of the recovery while minimizing the risk of a misstep means shifting skill sets and new talking points in partner-sourcing discussions.
But it has also created a simplicity market wherein the ability for a provider to manage things behind the scenes is a valuable differentiator. In 2020, this resulted in planners leaning heavily on their tech providers to fill the gaps: Nearly a third of planners used their event tech provider as their virtual AV/production support in the latter half of the year, and 27 percent continue to do so as of the second quarter of this year.
With events going back onsite, tech providers are once again expanding their offerings, but this time through partnerships. Event tech giant Cvent has recently partnered with event production company Encore, and engagement-focused event tech firm Socio is similarly expanding its partner network to facilitate a streamlined digital-to-onsite production process for planners.
Here is what you stand to gain from the new trend.
5 Benefits of a Tech Platform With an Onsite Production Partner
Within an industry relegated to virtual events, some tech providers took responsibility for facilitating a high quality production by upskilling, and some AV production companies tried to get in on the action with virtual venues. The trouble, said Socio CMO Andrew Pearson at our recent Event Tech Innovation Summit, is that hybrid events are still new and many providers on both sides are not familiar with each other’s processes and requirements.
Is your session content onsite being recorded in a way that lends itself to online consumption? Is your digital content being produced in a way that’s conducive to being presented on a big screen onsite?
A partnership between your event tech partner and AV/production team creates a basis for expanding that collaborative experience and defining service offerings that complement each other, which translates into a smoother transition from onsite sessions to online content creation and vice versa.
“Best in Class” Trust
Unfamiliar formats are tough enough to sell without having to resort to providers who are essentially cutting their teeth on your event. Bringing trusted names together lends confidence for clients and other stakeholders.
That was a significant factor in the rationale behind the new strategic partnership with Cvent, said Ben Erwin, president and CEO of Encore, in a recent interview with EventMB. Both companies brought with them years of experience in their respective fields, giving event planners and their stakeholders the confidence of working with well-established, reputable experts.
A key advantage for those providers who achieved their ‘end-to-end’ credentials through mergers, acquisitions, and partnerships is that they collate specializations in multiple verticals into one offering. Theoretically, this gives event planners the benefit of ‘best in class’ services without the administrative cost of multiple contracts.
But the partnership also significantly reduces the lift for event planners by recruiting partners on each end of the production — virtual and onsite — who can anticipate each other’s needs and coordinate accordingly behind the scenes. Their experience working together on a number of events before yours serves as a template that each partner can refine based on evolving best practices, so as an event planner, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
While not all onsite content need be made available online and vice versa, designing content that can be repurposed and made accessible to a wider audience should be a key component of your year-round engagement and demand generation strategy.
And as soon as ‘evergreen content’ with a shelf life beyond the event itself enters the picture, the need for a professional level of production is that much more compelling.
Your onsite production team should not only be comfortable with broadcasting key components of the physical event, but also packaging it for online consumption afterward. Both your event tech provider and onsite production partners should come to the table with advice for grabbing content from each source to use in a content library afterward. This will serve as a key driver for your year-round engagement program.
Big Picture Data
Normally, when event planners use different providers for their virtual event tech, onsite event tech, wearables, etc., each collects that data separately and in separate reports. These reports are designed essentially for reinforcing the ROI of each provider’s respective contribution to the event. The planner then typically has to collate and make sense of all this siloed information themselves.
By sharing these data points, providers are beginning to create the infrastructure for a big-picture perspective of the event’s engagement.
“What we don’t want is one picture of the virtual ROI for this hybrid event, and a separate one for in-person. You have to be able to understand the total ROI, and you really need one platform to be able to pull that off.”
– Patrick Smith, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Cvent
Virtual event tech was the only sector in the industry to benefit from pandemic-related restrictions, and are now well positioned to use those profits to double down on their end-to-end offerings by expanding their services and partner networks to deliver more value onsite. The benefits of using one provider with fully-formed competencies on all sides of your event production are not hard to see, but what remains to be seen is how many virtual event tech players are in a position to compete and what impact that will have on the market. Stay tuned!