As pc/nametag's in-house Word Wizard, Meaghan creates educational content that brings people together and drives meaningful conversations in the events industry.
Hybrid events rock. Not only are they the perfect balance of in-person and online elements, but they’re also a great strategy for connecting attendees from across the globe and creating a meaningful experience with less barriers (like cost and travel).
Sure, you've probably heard of hybrid events, but have you heard of “satellite events?” In 2021 and beyond, we think that regional meetings and local gatherings will gain big traction, so here’s a rundown on the basics of satellite events, why you should care about them, and how they can impact your organization’s event goals this year.
What is a satellite event?
A satellite event is one event that's hosted in multiple locations or venues, giving attendees the flexibility to participate in event programming simultaneously, no matter their location.
Imagine hosting a conference in Orlando that’s also being broadcast live to attendees gathering in Washington D.C., Las Vegas, Chicago, San Diego and Atlanta. This is the exact concept of a satellite event.
When planning a satellite event, event organizers will typically reserve a variety of meeting spaces in multiple cities. This allows for smaller, spread-out gatherings with safer networking opportunities and the ability to stay closer to home.
Programs are available to all attendees through multi-room broadcasting, while video conferencing technology allows people to see, listen to and speak with other attendees in different locations.
What’s the difference between satellite events, virtual events and hybrid events?
The answer is simple: Satellite events are a type of hybrid event.
Virtual events take place entirely online, while hybrid events take place both in-person and online. A satellite event is considered a type of hybrid event because attendees meet face-to-face in their own regional venue, but also interact with other regions via video conferencing on the Internet.
Online events and hybrid events are here to stay, especially in the COVID-19 era and beyond. Now more than ever, event planners need to get creative and brainstorm new ways to support attendee safety and safe event design.
Could satellite events be the answer to transitioning back to safe in-person events? We think so! Here are some of our favorite benefits of hosting regional meetups or local gatherings for a single event.
5 Key Benefits of Hosting a Satellite Event
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a massive shift in the events industry, and it’s going to take some time before event attendees feel safe enough to attend large, crowded events again. In the meantime, we can still enjoy the benefits of in-person events and make sure that our attendees have fun in the meantime!
Satellite events could be the perfect strategy to bringing back in-person events that attendees will get excited about! Check out some of the most notable key benefits of hosting a satellite event:
1) Satellite events are a safe transition back to hosting live events.
While huge conferences are a blast to attend, some attendees won’t feel comfortable visiting a venue with a large crowd until COVID-19 vaccines are widely available. Regional meetups are the perfect way to disperse crowds and place them in different locations where physical distancing and sanitation can be maintained.
2) Satellite events don't require extensive attendee travel.
One downfall of in-person events is that they often require extensive travel time for attendees, especially if the event draws people from across the nation or world. Travel, costs and scheduling conflicts shouldn’t prevent attendees from coming to your event! Regional meetups are closer to home — a big appeal to attendees who are hesitant to travel by plane.
3) Satellite events may help you reach more consumers and drive more revenue.
A great thing about satellite events is that there are multiple venues for attendees to choose from. This flexibility is a win-win for attendees and event planners alike. Having a variety of location options may even help you draw more attendees, and more attendees means more opportunities for revenue and ROI.
4) Satellite events help attendees create connections in a safe, controlled way.
Most planners would agree that attendee safety and security is a top priority when planning an event. Regional meetups are typically smaller than national events, which means that you’ll be able to better control how sanitation, safety and security are handled. A safe event is a fun event!
5) Satellite events give attendees a more personalized experience.
There’s nothing quite like the hustle and bustle of a busy conference or tradeshow. However, some attendees want a more personalized experience than this. Regional events are highly customizable and give attendees the opportunity to network in a smaller, safer, cleaner and less hectic environment.
Industry leaders are already using satellite events to their advantage.
Check out how PCMA presented their 2021 hybrid event, the Convening Leaders conference, for event professionals:
The #PCMACL hybrid-event may have come to a close, but the experience doesn't just stop there. Whether you're on a desktop or mobile on-the-go, bring #PCMACL with you to watch wherever and however you choose by viewing all content and sessions on demand: https://t.co/8Ym5huBVe5 pic.twitter.com/fUX9hpRWzX— PCMA (@pcmahq) January 20, 2021
Going forward, many attendees will expect a virtual component of events, especially if they are unable to travel to your venue. Satellite events are an excellent option because they’re the best of both worlds: attendees get the opportunity to meet face-to-face in a customized and meaningful environment, while you get the opportunity to build relationships with people and organizations from across the world.
Hybrid events don’t just happen overnight; they take careful planning and consideration in order to be successful. Keep reading to find our top tips for maintaining attendee engagement at your next connected event.
Strategies for Hosting an Engaging, Multi-Venue Event
People love events, and the more engaging they are, the better. Done right, a satellite event can be a fantastic asset to your event strategy. You’ll expand your reach to new audiences, you’ll foster connections, you’ll drive ROI, and you’ll give attendees an experience they’ll be sure to remember.
Do we have you hooked on the idea of satellite events? Here are some tips on hosting a multi-location event that attendees will rave about. You’ve got this!
1) Surprise event attendees with a box of event essentials and swag.
There’s no denying that people love their event swag. (We’re all guilty of keeping event badges from past events!) Before or during registration, provide a package of swag that attendees can use during and after your event.
For example, consider including an event-branded badge and lanyard, fun badge ribbon, an event agenda, sponsor materials, or even a t-shirt. Health and safety items are always a plus, so include items like hand sanitizer or a custom-printed mask. Attendees want to feel appreciated for coming, and an attendee kit is a great way to give them the experience they’re looking for.
2. Provide pre-packaged food and drinks from a local restaurant or catering company.
Food and drink have always been one of the most exciting parts of an event’s social atmosphere. COVID-19, however, has created a new landscape for how we’ll need to approach buffet lines and happy hours at in-person events. The good news is that you can keep everyone fed and hydrated, and you can do so safely with the right protocols in place.
Hire a local restaurant or catering company to provide pre-packaged foods at each regional meet-up. Not only will you keep guests happy, but you’ll also support their local businesses with your purchase. Give attendees peace of mind that their food and drink is protected by skipping the buffet line and providing a boxed meal or packaged snacks.
Want to step up your event's snack game? A snack break box is the perfect way to curb your attendees' hunger throughout the day. They'll love the variety of foods to choose from.
3) Remember to properly adjust your agendas based on time zones.
Timing is huge when it comes to satellite events. For example, if your event has gatherings in California, Chicago, Texas and New York, you’ll need to be mindful of agendas and adjust them properly to the time zone. This is one of the beauties of a registration packet; attendees have their agendas on-hand before the event begins.
If you’re planning to host a satellite event, remember that sessions in each location will fluctuate in terms of timing, so take care to include scheduled breaks for refreshments and lunch. You may also find it helpful to record important keynote speakers and sessions for attendees to view later. Virtual and hybrid events are all about flexibility, so try to schedule your keynote in a “prime time” for each time zone involved.
4) Work with a vendor that specializes in virtual event technology.
All virtual and hybrid events need a virtual event platform that’s reliable. After all, you’ll have a hard time creating a pleasurable attendee experience if streaming is choppy or difficult to hear. Make sure to ask the following questions when interviewing video platform providers:
- What experience do you have with virtual events?
- What platform do you use to live-stream?
- What is my involvement in the process?
Your video platform provider should work with you to create an experience that supports your vision for your event. Use their expertise to take creative risks, increase traffic to your event and create a window of education, growth, and opportunity to the world for your brand.
Are Connected Events Here to Stay?
Like most trends, some stay and some go. In fact, we have an entire list of notable event industry trends likely to stick in 2021 and beyond. However, based on our research, we’re confident that hybrid events are the way of the future. Satellite events are just another way to make them more engaging and unique to your brand.
Hosting a hybrid event may seem like a challenge, but you don’t have to do it alone. Tools and resources exist to get you on the right track and spark your imagination. You can always turn to industry professionals for help as well, like the professionals at pc/nametag. We are here to help you succeed.