If content was considered king before the pandemic, the enforced move to virtual and subsequent evolution to hybrid event formats has seen content’s ascendency from monarch to deity in the space of just 18 months.

Not only has the planner content role evolved from in-room to online, but it has also now evolved again with organizers needing to consider a blended balance of both digital and physical content streams that will keep two different audiences engaged in the event offer. Digital content strategies are now at the forefront for planners and marketers alike. 

In a virtual event environment, without the distractions of venue, the show-floor bar, or bumping into someone you haven’t seen for a while on your way to an educational session, the online attendee’s focus is squarely on the content.

They want to know what they’re going to learn, who they’ll learn it from, and how they’ll continue their learning and development journey with on demand sessions and follow up content, long after the event has finished

So, how do you do this? How do you develop content for the stage that will bring attendees back into the room, while curating virtual content for broader reach and a 365-day brand engagement strategy?

Step one: Set your objectives

First things first, your virtual event isn’t the same as your in-person one. Broadcasting what’s happening onstage to a remote digital audience isn’t a hybrid event and charging online viewers to sit and watch a series of pre-recorded YouTube videos won’t result in positive delegate feedback.

Your mix of in-person and online content needs to be carefully considered, by first setting strong goals and objectives.

Basic questions to ask should include:

  • Why are we doing this event?
  • Who is it for?
  • What do we want to gain?
  • What do we want our two different audiences to learn or take away?
  • How will we measure success?

Some further content-led goals may include:

  • Does the event form part of a wider sales, marketing or communications strategy?
  • Do you want to share knowledge, information or demonstrate products?
  • Do you want attendees to be able to communicate with one another?
  • How will you track attendance, engagement and attendee satisfaction?

Clear KPIs will inform your content agenda and help you to determine the right hybrid format and the necessary engagement tools to make your content more accessible and participatory.

Step two: Understand your audience

When it comes to your audience, consider offering personalized content steams based on different attendee profiles.

For example, a recent virtual conference on the subject of digital transformation segmented its content into sessions that focused on healthcare, manufacturing, supply chain management, and pharmaceutical. Senior executives from these four sectors were targeted with specialized content on different days, before they were all brought together for a concluding session, which covered sustainability.

The four sector attendee profiles were supplied by the sales team, based on companies who were already using their digital services or were considering working with them. The C-suite seniority meant that the content needed to be high-level and in-depth, requiring a full day for each stream.

Maybe feedback has informed you that your in-person audience has chosen to attend rather than view online because they enjoy the more fun elements of getting together with peers. In that case, you may wish to add gamification or ice-breaker sessions.

If you’ve made it clear that an in-person ticket will get the full event experience, while an online ticket will purely focus on the content, don’t then expect digital viewers to get up and do a virtual yoga class during one of the in-person networking sessions.

Introverts and extroverts engage with event content in different ways. Being able to curate the right content for the right audience is one of the big advantages of the hybrid model.

A more introverted audience profile for example, may engage more with anonymised polls or chat functionality. But they won’t be impressed if you hijack their webcam and beam them onto a live video wall to ask a question to a speaker onstage in front of a physical audience.

Step three: Decide on your format

There’s a lot of terms being banded around currently for hybrid formats - ‘Hub and Spoke’, ‘Match of the Day’, ‘Ted Talk', ‘Echo’, ‘Book-end’, and ‘Community 365’ are just a few of the ones I’ve heard recently.

Basically, they boil down to whether or not you want to use a studio, complete with moderator, production team and optional guests to serve content to the digital viewer and how you want to disseminate content both during and post event.

Many planners find that bringing speakers into a studio to deliver online content inspires them to raise their game from sitting at home in front of a webcam.

Combine that with additional support - like having a professional coach able to guide them through a rehearsal, or the opportunity to practice with auto cue in a rehearsal room - and improved results are guaranteed. 

Also. there is only so much anyone can do with a speaker who has poor broadband and an untidy bookshelf behind them. Get them into a studio however, the whole thing becomes more harmonious and the production team can help your speaker to lift their slot creatively. 

Content dissemination could feature the in-person presentations being recorded but not streamed on the day and then edited, mixed with live virtual sessions and delivered on a different day.

Advantages of this format are huge – only one event to organize at a time, and less cost to capture but not stream the video.

Presentations can then be delivered "live" online with Q&A elements added and the presenters participating again but virtually.

Any attendee who didn’t get to ask a question in the physical room could then rejoin the virtual session and ask via the anonymised chat functionality.

Planning content for these example formats obviously needs to take additional factors into consideration, such as timezones, speaker commitments, investment in a professional emcee and more production resource.

However, by adding on studio content, additional sessions and asking your speakers to play a larger part, you’ll gain a richer library of broadcast quality content that could be disseminated online for the rest of the year to build community or generate a new on-demand revenue stream.

Step four: Content audit

Staging a blend of in-person and online event activity will of course see your content requirements grow so it’s important to revisit the audience profiles and review what’s being scheduled against the event goals and objectives.

It’s also a good time to understand if speaker content is available in various formats – infographic, slideshow, video, eBook and so on. This will help you offer downloadable content for online viewers and help you to plan what assets can be made available post-event.

You may also need to plan a promotional campaign to attract the right audience to your hybrid event and/or set out your credentials in a particular specialism via thought-leadership articles, press releases, video content and advertisements.

Your choice of format may attract new sponsor interest and provide opportunities for sponsored content or tailored brand messaging when viewers log onto the platform.

How many times have you sat at your desk waiting for the live stream of a conference keynote to begin while being forced to watch an empty auditorium slowly fill up or, even worse, stare at a visual place-holder? Your content strategy needs to consider not only the educational content but also what content attendees will see when no-one is on-stage or on-screen.

Follow us next week for part 2 

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The 2021 edition of Investing in African Mining Indaba 2021 was canceled due to the ongoing uncertainty caused by Covid-19. The event was due to take place on 7-10 February 2022. ...They really hoped to make Mining Indaba happen early next year, it was however postponed to May 2022
 
The new dates were announced - Investing in African Mining Indaba 2022 will take place 9-12 May 2022, at the CTICC, Cape Town, South Africa
 
We consulted extensively with our partners, key stakeholders across the mining value chain, and government ministers. Collectively we decided, due to ongoing challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic, that a postponement was the most practical solution and provides the highest chance of holding a physical, in-person event in 2022 where the industry can reconnect once again.

We are fully committed to running the event in South Africa and are grateful for the support of our Advisory Board, partners and key stakeholders.
 
“The Mining Indaba has been a significant platform in Africa’s mining industry for over 27 years – bringing together unique voices and perspectives. We look forward to being back at the Indaba in-person in May 2022, where we will continue to interact and learn from our peers, host governments and investors who are at the heart of Africa’s mining industry.” - Nevashnee Naicker, Head of Corporate Communications, Anglo American

“Mining Indaba is an integral part of the industry’s calendar. Although it was disappointing that the February 2022 event had to be postponed due to the pandemic, the next gathering promises to be a pivotal event to reset the dialogue around opportunities and challenges in Africa's mining industry. We look forward to welcoming the industry back to Cape Town and driving further growth for our industry” - Roger Baxter, Chief Executive Officer, Minerals Council South Africa

“As a hub for the mining community, the move to May has been highly welcomed to ensure the industry meets as safely and securely as possible.” - Mark Dytor, Chief Executive, AECI
Our long-standing partner, the CTICC has been converted into a vaccination centre until the end of this year, with the possibility of an extension. This would impact our ability to build the event in January, in time for a large scale gathering the following month.

Ongoing travel restrictions in and out of South Africa for many internationals would impact our ability to bring foreign investment into the continent. Furthermore, we must recognize that current government guidelines regarding event capacities are unlikely to be lifted to the level required to run a meaningful event by February.

We are extremely confident that that by May, we can deliver a Mining Indaba to remember. The event dates are different, but the connections, discussions and experience our attendees come back year after year for will undoubtedly continue to be unmatched.
The content will run under the theme “Evolution of African Mining: Investing in the Energy Transition, ESG, and Economies”. 

After a virtual event in 2021, we are excited to reconnect the industry in Cape Town for an unforgettable live event once again. 
Mining Indaba will take place in accordance with the latest health and safety and government guidelines. You can read more about how we plan to keep you safe on site here. 
 
Copyright - www.miningindaba.com

How to Choose a Webinar Platform in 2021

With the explosion and evolution of virtual events in 2020, one type of online communication tool has arguably been somewhat left behind.

The humble webinar has long been used for lead generation, product demonstrations, increased reach, and knowledge sharing. But with marketers recently more focused on keeping up with technology innovations and how to stage engaging, fully-fledged live events online, there’s been little time for basic broadcasts. But there is a need for some to find the right webinar platform in 2021 to suit their developing needs. 

Why? Because to move beyond the webinar is to ignore the high percentages of marketers and sales leaders who cite them to be one of the most reliable ways of generating high-quality leads.

This will continue to rise, so long as professionals continue to value video-based learning as their preferred education format. With virtual events reaching unprecedented levels of popularity, there is most definitely still a place in the marketer’s toolkit for webinars.

That said, what we traditionally think of as a webinar has to change to reflect the higher viewer expectations now associated with all forms of online and virtual events.

So what do we normally associate with the webinar format? Webinars have followed the same format for many years so here are six elements that will be familiar to many of you:

  • Average webinar presentation times range from 30 to 60 minutes
  • An overwhelming majority of webinar attendees join from desktop computers
  • Often feature pre-recorded content
  • Usually, one or two hosts talking over slides
  • Speakers have their video cameras off
  • May feature a singular attendee poll to drive engagement

 

Before the digital world experienced an accelerated evolution in just six months, the above status quo for webinars was sufficient. Today, it is not. Webinar programs need redefining and it is high time the entire user experience was given an upgrade.

This status quo experience isn’t limited to your attendees either. On the presentation side, you likely have suffered through static experiences, fixated on clicking through slides and talking heads with limited capabilities beyond running simple presentations or polling. Even reporting was limited to how many people attended and how long they stayed.

 

Three pitfalls of status quo webinars:

  • They offer little if any interaction between the speaker and attendees or between attendees. Limited engagement and opportunities for attendee interactivity lead to lower overall engagement.
  • Follow-up takes place on the event organizer’s schedule, not the attendees’. Attendees prefer webinar experiences with a Q&A session and follow-up opportunities that are in real-time or scheduled for other times that meet their own needs.
  • They provide minimal flexibility in the attendee experience. Inflexibility in webinar scheduling, offering only live content or content on-demand, and limited program interactivity may lead to a negative webinar experience for the attendees.

 

A successful marketing webinar should accomplish three main things:

  • Generate measurable results: Before you can think about topics, you need to understand your goals and KPIs. The most effective webinars have specific and measurable goals.
  • Deliver value to your attendees: The best webinars aim to provide real value to their audience first and foremost. Cover topics your audience cares about and deliver it in a compelling format with visual and interactive elements.
  • Drive action: Too often webinars are a dead-end, with an obligatory CTA on the final slide. After you’ve established a clear goal and know how your webinar fits into the buyer’s journey, you can drive webinar registrants to the next important action.

 

For webinars to be reimagined, therefore, we need to enhance four key elements - content, formats, production, and interactivity driven by technology.

Next week we will share what to consider while choosing a webinar platform in part 2, your check-list and what to do after the webinar

 

Copyright www.cvent.com

What to Consider while Choosing a Webinar Platform:

Digital event attendees recognize that quality content is the driving force behind their commitment to logging on and remaining engaged. To ensure webinar content has the same appeal, consider a series approach by focusing on one core webinar theme and then offer multiple webinars on related sub-topics.

By doing so, you will extend the attention and time spent with your brand through more binge-worthy moments.

Then, when they join the webinar, attendees will know which topics will be relevant to them before the programming even begins.

During the event, engage attendees in the webinar chat and Q&A. By knowing your audience and personalizing their experience, you can direct them to resources and additional content of interest after the webinar ends.

Formats

Be creative and flexible with webinar timing and duration—it’s ok to break away from the traditional 30-minute time template!

Webinars should be thought of as multi-layer experiences. In addition to showcasing programmed content, consider adding breakout sessions or pre-and/or post-webinar Q&A opportunities.

Offer to continue the webinar conversation by allowing attendees to virtually “meet” the experts by participating in smaller breakout-discussion groups moderated by the speakers. 

Production

To cater to the eight-second human attention span, reimagine your role as that of executive producer, versus simply delivering a presentation.

By upping your webinar production game and keeping a quick pace, you will bring the content to life, hold attendees’ interest, and elevate the overall experience of the webinar.

During the session, change up the screen layouts and views with a variety of screen dynamics.

Some options include rotating from the speaker in a full-screen view to the content as a full-screen view with a voiceover or using a side-by-side view of the speaker and content.

Interactivity

Encouraging attendee interactivity will improve their overall webinar experience and will get them and keep them engaged.

Use a webinar platform that allows attendees to type in live Q&A and to up-vote questions to prioritize speaker responses.

Offering live polls throughout the webinar will also engage attendees, with the added bonus of collecting additional viewer data.

Metrics and measurement

Standard webinars measure success via registration, overall attendance, and duration of attendance. Whilst these are still important metrics to collect, aspire to go a layer deeper in order to justify ROI.

By tracking engagement and how viewers participated during the live-interaction segments of your webinar (e.g in polls, Q&A, and chat), you can determine how engaged any specific attendee was and view and follow up with their individual responses during these segments.

Never underestimate the power of an attendee survey

After the initial speaker registration, use those responses to personalize your outreach to attendees further. This may include requesting additional information on topics of interest, what their learning objectives are for the session, plus if they have any questions to submit in advance.

After the webinar, be sure to send out a post-webinar survey, which is as customized and personalized as possible.

By looking beyond attendance metrics and implementing survey feedback, over time you can build a full-funnel to prove your business impact. Using the best practices we discussed above, your process will look like this:

  • Capture the attention of your attendee, and for a longer time
  • Draw deeper insights based on this engagement
  • Build a clearer picture of interest
  • Accelerate intelligent follow-up
  • Prove the business impact

The ultimate webinar check-list 

Eight weeks prior

  • Pick your date and time
  • Determine your topic
  • Select your speakers/host(s)
  • Set your objectives
  • Reach out to sponsors and stakeholders

Remember:

When choosing a time and date for your webinar, first consider your process. How long will it take to find a speaker, build the event, create a marketing campaign, and so on? With an idea of how long it will take to execute, it’s time to open the calendar. Go as many weeks in advance as it will take to build the webinar. Webinars that take place on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday see higher registration than those on Monday or Friday.

Five weeks prior

  • Create a webinar registration page
  • Select webinar platform
  • Create a content outline and program schedule

Remember: 

Many companies have their own terminology and are used to phrasing things in a specific way. But that doesn’t mean attendees speak the same language. As you refine your webinar topic, look to SEO keywords to guide the way. You’ll want to create an engaging title that will show up in search, one that explains what the webinar is about.

Three weeks prior

  • Begin webinar promotion via email, social, partners, paid promotion, and customer communication
  • Complete webinar promotion designs

Remember: 

An email marketing campaign isn’t one email – it’s a series. Build emails that aren’t too text-heavy and utilize great visuals. When writing a subject line, keep it short and engaging. The goal of these emails is to drive the recipient to the webinar website. Be creative and have fun with these. Think about what would make you open an email as you write them.

One week prior

  • Send a reminder email to registrants
  • Re-promote webinar
  • Rehearse content

Remember:

Give yourself enough time to do at least two complete dummy run-throughs of the webinar so that the moderator can test scripts, platform engagement tools can be planned and added to the schedule and last-minute moments of pre-show stress can be avoided. If speakers are remote, make sure they have the correct lighting, bandwidth, and set-up in place and that they’re comfortable with their role in the program.

Day of webinar

  • Send a reminder email to registrants
  • Promote via social media
  • Gather speakers 30 minutes before the webinar is due to start

Remember: 

Make sure sales and marketing are aligned throughout the webinar cycle. Sales can support marketing by closing the feedback loop on what webinar topics resonate with prospects and customers and which topics are ripe for a webinar not yet created. Marketing can use this data from sales to develop webinars that are even more effective in attracting the right kind of prospect.

During webinar

  • Record sessions
  • Encourage social media activity
  • Facilitate Q&A, polls, and real-time surveys

Remember: 

What’s the next step you want webinar registrants to take and how will your sales team help you coordinate the Call-to-Action?

After the webinar

  • Update landing page copy
  • Convert recording to MP4 file and upload to your website
  • Upload shareable content assets to the website
  • Send thank-you email with links to assets and recording
  • Pass-on sales leads and interest levels to the commercial team
  • Analyze metrics and performance

Remember: 

Analyze and distribute webinar data to sales teams, detailing leads who registered, leads who attended, leads who registered but didn’t attend, leads who never registered, and additional information such as webinar poll responses, survey answers, and questions asked during the webinar.

Copyright www.cvent.com

Hotel room prices vary throughout the year depending on the type of season. From peak season to off-peak season to shoulder season, successful hotels anticipate the fluctuations that are likely to happen and strategize accordingly. Last week we shared on what a "shoulder season" consists of.

In part 2 we share on the steps hotels can take to plan for this and 7 sales strategies + tips to help you annalyze results.

3 steps hotels can take to plan for shoulder-season

Schedule time for operations, sales, and guest service managers to get together and plan your property’s shoulder season strategy. Shoulder season requires a lot of preparation, so we recommend breaking your efforts down into these three simple steps.

1. Identify your shoulder seasons.

Review local event calendars, as well as calendars for large area attractions, to get a firm idea of the different factors that influence surges and dips in your area’s travel demand.

Common shoulder season influencers:   

  • Special events
  • Area attractions
  • Sporting events
  • Outdoor recreation opportunities
  • School year travel
  • Holiday travel
  • Temperature
  • Weather patterns (e.g. hurricane season)                      

Even for seasoned sales managers with years of experience in their region, there’s always something new to learn. Run reports that track occupancy and rate changes throughout the year. When looking at detailed reporting, you may be surprised to learn that your shoulder season start or end dates may fall outside of your initial estimations. Leaving any stone unturned can leave revenue on the table.

2. Set balanced shoulder season revenue goals.

Balance your shoulder season revenue goals with the entire year in mind. If your primary goal is a 5% overall revenue increase, construct a rate strategy that breaks that 5% down into seasons to maximize profit potential. Instead of seeking a 5% increase each month, for example, it is likely a better strategy to set a higher goal of 7-8% during peak seasons to offset a lower increase of 3% during shoulder seasons.

3. Strategize sales and marketing efforts.

Once your shoulder seasons have been accurately identified and attainable revenue goals are set, it’s time to start marketing. Hotel managers will need to develop shoulder season sales strategies based on the drivers and travelers specific to their market. Factoring in area attractions, competition, and potential objections to shoulder season travel, focus on targeting your efforts toward market segments with the most potential for growth.

7 sales strategies to implement during shoulder season

From one hotel to another, shoulder season sales strategies will differ. But no matter what, we recommend implementing targeted sales and marketing campaigns based on travel patterns in your area and the unique features and amenities that your property has to offer travelers. 

1. Implement seasonal pricing.

Hotel rates need to reflect both the service and status of the property itself while staying proportionate to the overall travel demand to the area. During shoulder season, your rates should be lower than peak season, but still higher than your off-peak season. When planning your annual budget, keep this in mind and set a separate rate structure for shoulder seasons that will stay competitive and still fit within your overall revenue goals.

2. Run discounts and promotions.

Consider offering early booking discounts or other value-based promo's. Offer a deeper discount with stricter cancellation policies that require booking earlier than other discounts offered by the property.

Target these discounts to fall during shoulder season so that you have a solid base of discount business early on. Building a strong base will give the opportunity to increase rates as the booking dates approach and attain a higher ADR during the mid-demand months.

3. Manage length of stay patterns.

Enable LOS requirements for certain rate levels and discounts during shoulder season. Requiring longer stays for the deepest discounts will help your hotel increase occupancy and maintain a steady ADR after peak season.

4. Create seasonal or holiday packages.

Identify public holidays, events, or other seasonal influencers that could help bring in business during your shoulder season. If Christmas falls inside a shoulder season for your property, consider constructing a “Christmas Carol” package or other festive promotion. The package could include a holiday welcome basket on arrival and tickets to see a local concert or play.

By offering a unique experience that your competition isn’t providing, you can help drive more of the limited Christmas season leisure travel to your property.

5. Implement rewards or loyalty programs.

Implementing loyalty programs that offer incentives based on repeat stays will help build your base of return customers while providing your best guests with additional value.

6. Take advantage of unused hotel space.

Hosting a happy hour or Manager’s Reception in unused hotel space will allow your sales team to greet guests, network, and uncover leads for future business.

7. Organize and host events.

Utilize unused lobby or event space to host local events and fundraisers. Consider working with different networking groups in your area to host a monthly meeting or a business lunch.

Take advantage of shoulder season by making as many connections in your community as you can. Hosting events, fundraisers, or networking meetings will also give you an opportunity to showcase your hotel and amenities to individuals who may not have seen it otherwise.

Pay close attention to hotels in your comp set. Keep an eye on what their shoulder season strategies are and always remember that you’re competing against the competition as well as against your hotel’s previous shoulder season performance.

4 tips to help you analyze shoulder season results and identify best practices

Run revenue reports that break your hotel’s performance down over the last few years, focusing specifically on shoulder season performance. Note patterns, opportunities for improvement, and time periods where there’s a large disparity between rate and occupancy.

1. Track discounts and promotional rates.

Look at previous promotions and discounts run during shoulder season. Which promotions were successful? Did certain discounts cost you rate, occupancy, or both? Look at upcoming shoulder seasons. Are there booking patterns you can see already taking place? Are they going to benefit your bottom line?

2. Track LOS patterns.

Analyze weekday and weekend length of stay patterns over previous shoulder seasons. Were there long LOS patterns that you should put more effort into marketing this year? Would providing additional discounts for extended stays be beneficial to your property, or do you need to focus on building ADR instead?

3. Look for RevPAR and ADR changes.

Were there sudden dips or spikes in ADR or RevPAR during last year’s shoulder seasons? If so, can you identify the cause? Were you unaware of an area special event or group demand driver during those seasons? Were you priced too high causing you to lose occupancy?

4. Compare departmental expenses.

As you develop and institute new targeted shoulder season sales efforts, track your expenses closely. Whether operational expenses increase due to hosting a Manager’s Reception, or the sales budget goes over due to online advertising, be meticulous about tracking your expenses. By doing this, you’ll be able to identify which strategies are bringing in the most money and allocate your budget to best suit your needs.

Treat peak, off, and shoulder seasons separately in order to develop successful revenue strategies for each.

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