In September 2019, the CWT Meetings & Events (CWT M&E) team in Singapore held its inaugural MarketME event, providing a platform for buyers and suppliers in the industry to come together, exchange ideas and learn about the latest products, services, and trends in the market. The event itself was a showcase on how planners can break the mold of boring, stuffy corporate gatherings and instead create a festival-like atmosphere that increases attendee engagement. While the event was held in an upscale hotel ballroom, we replaced the conference-style seating with wooden crates, benches, and swing chairs. Supplier booths were designed to imitate the look and feel of a farmers’ market. And alongside the serious discussions taking place, there were games, entertainment, prize draws, and even a create-your-own cocktail station. Of the 118 attendees who participated, 94% gave the event a positive rating and every single one said they would return to attend the event the following year.
Then, just as we had started planning for MarketME 2020 with the intention of kicking things up a notch, COVID-19 happened. Government restrictions in Singapore forced us to move the event online. While virtual events have certain advantages – for example, they can cost less, allow you to reach a broader audience, and can be more eco-friendly – they aren’t a perfect substitute for face-to-face meetings. The biggest challenge, perhaps, is that it’s much harder to sustain people’s attention and form meaningful connections in a virtual setting. The change meant we had to completely re-think our event from start to finish.
After extensive planning and preparation, we held the 2020 edition of MarketME in October 2020 as a fully virtual event. We had 124 attendees from 26 countries participate in the forum.
Here are eight important things we considered in the process of organizing MarketME 2020, which might come in handy when you’re planning your next virtual event.
Blog author: Nelson Khoo, Event Manager, Singapore, CWT Meetings & Events