From October 13th to October 18th, 2020, Montreal Digital Week went entirely virtual to provide their audience “an innovative experiential format.” Born from necessity due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, MTL connect 2020 ended up being a smash hit with over 16,000 connections being made between participants!
We chatted to Manon Michaudet, Head of Communications at MTL Connect Hybrid, about their experience running a fully virtual event in 2020 and how the success of that experience working with Swapcard gave them the confidence to run a hybrid event in 2021.
1. When you ran your virtual event in October 2020, what was successful about it?
We ran a survey and found that 69% of participants surveyed appreciated the 100% web-based format. The participants we met emphasized the quality of the organization and programming.
The people surveyed also mentioned that the Swapcard platform was favorable for making contacts with potential clients. The exchanges made during the activities quickly led to connections and external developments in the weeks following the event.
"This tells us that the potential disadvantages of virtual events are outweighed by the benefits of this alternative to in-person events."
A platform that provides tools to get attendees engaged and the quality of your content is what matters.
2. How did you successfully market your virtual event to attendees?
The Leger study found that most participants registered through word of mouth. Even though MTL connect was 100% online in 2020, the awareness of Digital Spring and MTL connect drove the public to register.
Since we were mostly using digital means to promote MTL connect such as social media, newsletters, and articles on our website, this seemed to work and draw in an online audience.
3. Fast-forward to your hybrid event in 2021, how did Swapcard help?
We provided early access to the platform before the event started as well as access six months later. This access included the possibility of making appointments with participants through the platform. During the event we included an exhibitor marketplace, an important feature that our attendees appreciated.
4. Any tips you can give to other event planners going hybrid?
"The best tip is to open your platform early!"
Encourage attendees to start exploring and seeing all that your event has to offer. It’s also a great time to begin networking and scheduling before the event starts. Good communication before, during, and after your event is also important. As a virtual event, using digital communication was a great way to draw attention to MTL connect and encourage people to register.
5. Which features of Swapcard were helpful in your hybrid event?
Keeping the platform open to participants 6 months after the event ended was very useful for our hybrid event. This gave attendees access to content post-event and also helped networking continue once the event days were over.
6. Once your event became more tech-centric, did you gain valuable data?
"Swapcard provides useful analytics and data that was helpful not only for the planners behind MTL connect but also for our sponsors and exhibitors."
It provided a lot of insight we wouldn’t have otherwise had and which we can use when planning our next event.
7. Do you see value in having a virtual aspect to in-person events going forward?
"YES! Having a virtual element to your event is an absolute must as we move forward."
Going virtual contributes to our sustainability goals as our event’s carbon footprint is reduced with fewer attendees traveling to come to our event.
It’s also better for accessibility with more attendees able to participate because they won’t be excluded because they can’t afford the cost of travel plus stay. Anyone who is interested in what we have to offer can attend, and that’s a great way to broaden the reach of MTL connect and attract an even larger audience in the future.
Whether you’re looking for a partner to help you run a virtual, hybrid event, or in-person event, we’re here for you.
As an end-to-end event solution, Swapcard can help make your next event your best one yet.