The past 12 months have presented some of the most significant challenges to businesses across the globe and Hyve is no exception, with the majority of our in-person events unable to go ahead. Since our events are a vital part of many business’s marketing strategies, as well as a key platform for innovation and growth for major industries, it was vital to continue to bring our communities together.
Since the start of the pandemic, our teams have organised more than 100 webinars for our customer communities, and these have been well received. For three of our largest and most in-demand events, we took things a step further and created multiple-day virtual experiences to maximise community engagement.
Here, the teams from Bett, Mining Indaba and Spring Fair tell us how they did it.
Simultaneous to the immediate hurdles of digital upskilling and systems procurement, our teams were also having to entirely rethink their event agendas and content.
Hyve’s in-person events cater for three fundamental customer needs: learning, networking and trading. To date, the vast majority of online events have offered an enormous amount of learning opportunities, which are fantastic for engagement and brand advocacy. To ensure our virtual events were relevant for their respective communities, they had to create a holistic digital experience for customers which answered multiple needs.
The additional challenge our teams faced was addressing the new needs of customers, as they too were tackling their own challenges brought about by COVID-19. Not only had the format changed, but the disrupted landscape meant that the narrative also needed to be entirely reconsidered.
A tailored approach was taken for each event based on research with our customers and feedback on how Hyve could best support them at this pivotal time. Eve Harper, Event Director for Bett, said: “For BettFest we decided to use a combination of on-demand and live content to ensure that our global audience could participate. This mixed model also allowed us to replicate how our educator audience is working with its students, so it was a tried and tested approach among this customer community and one which we knew was manageable for them to fit around their even more demanding than usual day jobs.”
Elsewhere we introduced technology such as green screens and augmented reality to bring events to life. Live panel debates, online product showrooms and event ceremonies all helped to enrich the event experience and recreate some of the vibrance that comes with a live event.
A larger scale
One of the main benefits that comes with digital events is scale. For all three events there was an opportunity to welcome new customers for whom time or travel had previously been an obstacle. As such these events reached new levels of attendance and an increased international audience, which in turn will help to build on the customer experience of future events.
In addition, customers told us that they were able to absorb significantly more information – both in terms of finding new products and watching more content such as webinars and panel discussions.
It was inspirational and has really given me so much food for thought. Everyone could experience the whole show where most like myself can usually only have one day in real time. - Spring Fair @Home attendee
The buzz of live events is unbeatable
Digital events are capable of achieving brilliant engagement, but nothing compares to the buzz of physical events. Whether it’s a festival, sporting event, concert or market-leading exhibition, the energy and excitement which is generated by people coming together is unbeatable.
Missed it last year but now loving #BettFest. The chat and alternative views with links are something else. This is what I’ve been missing, although I do miss sitting with close contacts and hearing their views. - BettFest attendee
One way that our teams tackled this challenge and generated some of the atmosphere of a live event was through recognising and celebrating members of the community.
@Bett_show so nice to hear educators being acknowledged for the tremendous work they have done in supporting their students & colleagues during this crisis. - BettFest attendee
Key to retaining the buzz which is synonymous with Hyve events was securing an unmissable line-up. This was particularly true at Mining Indaba Virtual, which featured three African Presidents on the agenda – must-see content for this customer community.
The virtual event was the next best thing to actually being in Cape Town. - Mining Indaba Virtual attendee
For those events which facilitate retail, such as Spring Fair, there’s an addition challenge which Content Editor Emma Wilder explains: “In our customer community, everything is about touch and feel and that’s something you simply cannot replicate online. Retail buyers need to experience the product in real life to really understand if it’s right for their customer or not, equally that’s an essential part of the sale for an exhibitor.”
Our future is omnichannel
The changing nature of customer behaviors means we need to evolve our business and this has created a clear vision for our future which revolves around an omnichannel model. Looking ahead, we will be taking an ongoing, year-round approach to supporting our customer communities across the numerous global industries we serve and offering opportunities to learn, network and trade both online and in person.
In addition to continuing to bring back our in-person events, we will also be creating engaging digital opportunities for our customer communities to come together. We will be enhancing our digital capability to level-up both our in-person and virtual products.
Joanna Kotyrba, Head of Marketing for Mining Indaba explains an already planned further digital event for the African mining business community: “our inaugural Mining Indaba Virtual Investment Programme will run 30-31 March 2021, a two-day programme of highly targeted and optimised investment meetings. Alongside virtual meetings, we will be running the much-loved Mining Indaba Investment Battlefield online. The Investment Battlefield pitches Africa’s hottest junior mining companies against each other, offering them the chance to win an exhibition package to next year’s Mining Indaba and guaranteeing exposure to our investor community.”
Disrupting an industry
Hyve has, and always will be, a company that spearheads change and disruption. We believe that in many industries and geographies, the changes brought about by COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on how people do business. The acceleration of our omnichannel strategy will ensure we are best placed to support our customers and continue to be their number one choice.
Our future will feature a mix of in person and online activity, with both prioritising quality and continuously striving to provide the highest return on investment and time for our customers. By gaining a deeper understanding of our customers’ needs through the improved data we are able to generate from digital events, we are creating world-class experiences for our customers and introducing them to brand new ways of doing business.