Welcome Back! A Return to (Better) In-Person Events 

By Colleen Marlatt, Communications Intern, and Jenna Tomasello, Senior Associate

For most of us, handshakes and even hugs are back, thanks to the COVID-19 vaccines! And Hatcher can’t wait to help our clients and audiences explore emerging opportunities to convene as we return to new and improved in-person events.  

Over the past year, more people attended conferences, workshops, and meetings using their computers and mobile devices than ever before. Time and distance no longer stood in the way of attendee and speaker participation, as they did for events held in a single geographic location. Events with on-demand presentations allowed speakers the flexibility to pre-record remarks and participants could tune in at their convenience. Logistics such as venue, catering, travel, and other costs typically associated with in-person events were no longer considerations. Single-use signs, nametags, and handouts were no longer needed — a plus for sustainability. And there’s no such thing as a bad seat during a virtual event, as every audience member has the same clear view on their screen. Having the whole experience go virtual gave rise to new event platforms and features, and these technologies allowed for innovative and interesting ways to engage and track audiences. 

For example, Hatcher recently supported a full-day virtual conference for the Social Security Administration to share new research on disability policies and programs. With eight distinct research presentations, panel discussions, and a keynote address, the event featured more than 30 expert speakers from all over the country. 

We also supported the virtual release of the Nation’s Report Card on the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) science results for the National Assessment Governing Board. The event mixed live and on-demand content, including the premiere of “Understanding Our Changing World,” a new video developed by Hatcher and Rock Creek Productions, on the NAEP science assessment.

The truth is, though, as the country begins to open back up and some participants are eager to attend events in person, others remain hesitant. While offering a virtual option to a physical event provides the audience the flexibility and choice of attending at their comfort level, the challenge is creating an equally engaging experience for both in-person and virtual attendees. A hybrid event should go beyond simply live-streaming an in-person event by incorporating dynamic platform features like chat, Q&A, polling, and breakout rooms. Since both formats require different logistics preparation and day-of execution, successful hybrid events require the time, energy, and capacity of putting on two events.  

Hatcher is eager to see the smiling faces of our guests and speakers off the screen in the months ahead. We are ready to help our clients conceptualize immersive experiences, whether in-person or hybrid, and safely, of course! Incorporating branded masks, sanitization stations, touchless technology, and socially distant floorplans are just a few ways to make a smart and safe return to in-person events.  

We can’t wait to work with you! Whether your event is virtual, hybrid, or in-person, our full-service events team is ready to support your needs. Want to explore what’s possible? Contact Vice President Jenny Beard to learn more.