We all experienced the transformation of hybrid work over the last few years, influencing not just how we approach our jobs, but how we connect and engage with one another. Many of us are back in the office a few days a week—if not full time—but we also have teammates spread across the country, who contribute seamlessly thanks to the connection made possible by technology. 

The events industry followed a similar trajectory, first pivoting to fully virtual, then back to in-person, except now in-person experiences are enhanced with virtual elements such as a mobile event app built with powerful features like networking, engagement, and digital signage for sponsors. 

For our 2022 flagship event, WebexOne, we took a deep dive into how the industry evolved over the last few years, and how our approach to hybrid work and events has shifted toward thinking about what’s beyond this transformation. 

Under the theme “Beyond,” WebexOne explored strategies to take hybrid work and customer experiences to a new level. The event brought together innovators, executives, and IT leaders for an energizing virtual conference and featured 44 breakout sessions across eight tracks that explored hybrid work and the transformative power of customer experience.

With a mix of captivating speakers, exciting content, first-class production, and powerful engagement tactics, we delivered a world-class, digital-forward event experience powered by our end-to-end event management solution, Webex Events (formerly Socio). Let’s get into our top takeaways and the strategies we deployed to make WebexOne a smashing success. 

1. Tech-enabled events are here to stay

Large-scale in-person events are finally back, but virtual isn’t going anywhere. Digital-forward events, whether in-person or fully virtual, allow event professionals to expand their reach, drive better engagement, and collect actionable event data. Rather than fixating on the word “hybrid” or trying to create two equal events, embrace the idea that virtual elements make in-person events better

From the attendee perspective, events that seamlessly incorporate technology create more opportunity for connection, learning, and engagement – no matter how they choose to attend. Opening your in-person event to a remote audience instantly expands your reach, while making the event accessible for those with physical or financial barriers. 

Looking forward, we’ll increasingly see virtual elements added to in-person events, and virtual events will need to level up to engage attendees and drive sponsor ROI.  

As we designed our WebexOne experience, we wanted to incorporate traditionally in-person activations into the virtual experience. Just as the future of in-person events includes virtual components, we know that successful virtual experiences can also benefit from in-person elements. 

For instance, we included daily interactive puzzles for attendees to solve throughout the event. The completed puzzle images showcased the Artemis space mission and a McLaren racecar, a nod to one of our event partners, McLaren, and the WebexOne theme, Beyond. 

We also wanted to encourage attendees to engage with event resources, session content, and speakers. What better way to spark friendly competition than a fun in-event game

Our “Level Up” game was a major success. We posted challenges related to the keynotes and breakout sessions, speaker profiles, social wall, and puzzles. It provided a fun way to guide attendees throughout the virtual experience and engage with a wide variety of event content in the WebexOne event platform. 

By the end of the virtual experience, the event game resulted in 47,000 completed challenges from over 2,000 participants, while the daily puzzles generated 5,248 clicks.

2. End-to-end technology powers next-level event experiences

Today’s event landscape demands enhanced attendee experiences from start to finish, no matter if they attend virtually or in-person. Attendees now expect events to inform, inspire, and entertain with a TV-like production value. They’re tired of one-way presentations where there’s little to no attendee engagement. They want to be active participants with a voice in shaping the event as well as the content.  

A modern events program requires an end-to-end platform with the flexibility to power all types of events and formats. As event organizers continue to lean into in-person events, they should bring event tech into the fold. An all-in-one event tech stack enables you to seamlessly connect all aspects of your event from a single app, while powering on-site check-in and badge printing, networking, advanced engagement, and content production. Post event, you can pull deep metrics from the data dashboard to prove sponsor ROI.

End-to-end event tech gives in-person attendees flexibility in how they experience your event content. Maybe they want to check out the keynote in-person, but watch a smaller breakout from their hotel room. With a flexible event management solution, attendees gain the freedom to make their event experience as hybrid as they prefer, even while others attend entirely in-person or fully virtual.

It was also paramount to create virtual networking opportunities that were equal parts immersive and fun. We intentionally designed WebexOne to be a true one-stop-shop event experience, where attendees could easily interact with each other through an in-event social media feed, and of course the event game. We also included a virtual photo booth for attendees to post fun selfies with branded stickers. 

Attendee connection and creativity were on full display throughout WebexOne. Check out these stats we pulled from the data dashboard, powered by Webex Events:

  • 5,229 visits to the selfie booth
  • 1,400+ attendees posted in the gallery
  • 5,400+ attendee and sponsor profile views

3. Virtual experiences fuel year-long engagement

True end-to-end event management means using one powerful platform to launch your events program, but it also means engaging with your audience year-round, from one meetup to the next. A modern events program requires a multi-faceted strategy, where each event provides a key touchpoint along the customer journey. 

As in-person events ramp up, event professionals will continue to use smaller digital experiences and event communities to engage audiences between their flagship events. When done effectively, you can leverage attendee insights and repurpose content from your in-person events to fuel your year-round digital program.

For example:

  • Use insights from polling, surveys, and Q&A to inform webinars and other virtual content
  • Make keynote presentations available on demand 
  • Turn the most popular sessions into blog posts, case studies, and roundtable discussions

At Webex Events, we host several virtual events throughout the year to complement WebexOne. For instance, last summer we hosted an Event Summer Camp series over the lunch hour to talk about the latest event trends, insights, and happenings in the industry. We also held a 5-part series on Leveling Up Your Event Games. All of these sessions, as well as sessions from WebexOne, are now available on demand.

A modern solution for a modern events program

As we enter a new era of events, a few things become strikingly clear. 

  • Digital-forward events are here to stay, and most future events will blend in-person and virtual elements to some degree. 
  • Smaller virtual experiences will play a key role in helping organizers and brands engage with their audiences year-round and at every stage of the customer journey.
  • Attendees protect their time more than ever and will only travel to in-person experiences or join virtually if they anticipate a world class experience and high-level production.

An enterprise-grade, end-to-end event management solution like Webex Events makes all of this possible, while giving event professionals the freedom to seamlessly pivot between event formats and the features to level up engagement, networking, and production value.

Check out the full WebexOne case study to learn how we planned, prepped, and executed WebexOne, powered by Webex Events.