Variants like Omicron of concern for in person events is surging. Regardless of the production level, all 2022 events should provide and budget for an streaming.

Pandemic or not, uncertainty has killed events for years. With variants of concern surging, 2022 is shaping up to be no exception.

We sat down with Jim Fiore, President of Corporate Events Online, a 15-year veteran in virtual and hybrid events. Here are the five insights we can use to drive clarity and success in 2022. 

Jim, your thoughts on Omicron and the coming year? 

“Of course, thank you. We’ve seen uncertainty and changing plans before, but not to this degree or for this duration. As event professionals, we should focus on why we do these events in the first place and remember that our job is to be advisors who bring calm to the chaos.  

“We hold events to connect, engage, and win as organizations. We owe that to 100% of our audience, in-person or otherwise. Beyond changing expectations for attendance options, there’s incredible value in extending the reach and longevity of content.  

“Instead of reacting to specific events or COVID strains, we have a opportunity to guide clients towards sustainable hybrid strategies and complete that transition now. Within a year or two, the word 'hybrid' will likely drop, and we’ll simply know these as events.”  

Clients want to be back in the ballroom, and frankly so do many event professionals. What are you suggesting? 

“Regardless of the production level, all 2022 events should provide and budget for an online option. Rule of thumb for being online: 5-10% for 5-10x. In other words, the online component of an event should be roughly 5-10% of in-person budgets for the ability to accommodate 5-10x the attendee count.

"I am seeing five levels of online production in the market that scale with complexity and budget.” 

1. Capture and Post: recording of the live event for future review on-demand 
2. Stream One-to-Many: live or now a simu-live web broadcast, with & without interactivity 
3. Replicate the Event Online: create & mirror the in person agenda online
4. Produced Events for Online Audiences: live content tailored to remote audiences 
5. Integrated Experiences: two-directional live elements that unite audiences 

Having to run events both in-person and online is straining budgets and workloads, how can we balance this? 

“Great question and yes they are. Our ultimate goal is to take variability out of the budget and to also significantly reduce the workload.

“For the budget, stay within the rule of thumb range. The cheaper you go the more workload and potential issues you take on. With younger platforms and custom-built sites, we see significant issues like needing developers to make changes, inadequate QA and load testing, mobile and browser incompatibility, unsecured client data, lack of redundancy and so on.  Work with a software and provider that handles these and can make things flexible, stable and easy without breaking the bank. 

“For easing workloads, just like we have lighting and audio techs onsite, events going forward should include encoding techs and virtual directors or both on the crew. With the right technology and a little staffing, headaches can go way down for planners who are also managing the ballroom, all while successfully delivering great content to remote audiences.” 

How has Corporate Events Online been addressing these issues? 

“During the pandemic, we launched a major release of StagePro making it a fully integrated web application with native streaming and CDN built in. It has the functionality, stability, scalability, redundancy and security that the Fortune 1000 expects. It can be deployed in minutes, branded and configured in hours and live immediately thereafter. It can address all five of the production levels without breaking the bank. 

“We’ve been told that it's apparent it was built by event professionals for event professionals and we’re proud of that. Just as much attention was put on the back end as the front end, which means our partners can control and change anything within seconds—even while live. We had an event last week with 208 changes made in the 48 hours before the event, I love that our application was able accommodate that with great success.” 

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