Satellite Events: How Localized Gatherings Can Help Scale Your Event Strategy
You’ve mastered the art of event evolution — from in-person to virtual to hybrid (where in-person meets virtual). But have you added satellite events to your strategy? Read on to learn what a satellite event is and how it could change Event Experience forever.
According to our research, 97% of event professionals believe hybrid events are here to stay. However, 52.9% of event marketers believe it is more challenging to create unique and memorable experiences for virtual attendees than in-person events. In many ways, this makes perfect sense. It’s easier for many of us to feel connected with someone else when we’re in the same room versus staring at them on a screen.
But it’s clear that the more options you provide your attendees with, the better their overall experience. So how do you bridge the gap between virtual and in-person to ensure those who want to attend in-person can while allowing those who don’t want to hop on a plane to feel just as engaged and involved? The answer is satellite events.
What is a satellite event (aka micro event)?
Satellite events, also known as micro-events, are smaller, localized events that occur in conjunction with more significant virtual and in-person events.
For example, let’s say you’re hosting your annual user conference. Potential participants are located around the United States — possibly even the world. Your headquarters is in Denver, but you have a large concentration of customers in Chicago, San Francisco, NYC, Portland, Atlanta, Miami, and Washington D.C.
To meet attendees where they are and create choice and equity of experience, you could create three experiences:
- Unlimited in-person event in Denver (or a limited-attendance VIP experience)
- Limited-attendance in-person events in key locations
- Unlimited virtual attendance with on-demand post-event content
Then, you can broadcast keynotes from your NYC HQ. You can also livestream smaller sessions from your satellite locations or speakers attending virtually.
Sound like a huge undertaking that requires lots of cash, resources, and tech? With the right event management partner, you can seamlessly and effortlessly deliver a memorable, one-of-a-kind experience.
What are the benefits of satellite events?
As you continue to evolve your event strategy to make sense of what attendees want and what your organization needs, micro-events can help in more ways than one. Here are seven key benefits of adding satellite events to your strategy:
1. Lower Your Event’s Environmental Impact
Embracing satellite events enables organizers to create a more sustainable event strategy. A significant result of the pandemic alongside climate change is that more people are prioritizing environmental sustainability — and engaging with companies with green policies — than ever before.
Instead of folks flying in from around the globe to one location, satellite events encourage participants to attend without leaving their neck of the woods, which can positively impact the environment. According to one study, conferences with 5,000 attendees can reduce their carbon footprint by 98% by embracing a hybrid format.
In an age where people are increasingly environmentally conscious, satellite events can help ensure your events are well received by a broader, environmentally conscious audience.
2. Meet Attendees Where They Are
With micro-events, the entire experience becomes more convenient. In addition to saving on airfare, lodging, and other travel costs, attendees don’t have to devote huge chunks of time to travel. Additionally, professionals who are also caregivers — whether to a child, adult parent, or someone else — have more flexibility in how they want to attend.
By meeting people where they are, you can show your attendees that they are your top priority, making the experience more meaningful.
3. Offer Personalized Experiences
One of the best parts of satellite events is that they let you create personalized experiences. If you’re hosting micro-events in a few different cities, make sure that the catering reflects that city’s well-known eats, music, culture, and more. For example, for an event in Austin, you might want to cater in BBQ and Tex-Mex nosh, and in Chicago, you’d want to bring in a deep-dish pizza or hot dog vendor (pickles optional!).
Bonus: Don’t forget about your virtual audience! If virtual attendees have paid to attend, send them timed gift cards to order lunch when the time is right so they feel like they’re part of the action.
4. Reach a More Diverse Audience
Satellite events help ensure your events are more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. After all, not everyone has the budget to pay for a ticket, flight, and a pricey hotel room. By hosting satellite events, you bring your events as close to attendees as possible, which extends your reach and allows you to engage a broader, more diverse audience. It can also be easier for attendees to convince their manager that it’s worthwhile from a financial and time perspective.
5. Increase Revenue Through Reach
When you offer a variety of options for attendance, you extend your reach, boosting revenue. Let’s say you have customers in Portland who want to attend the main event in NYC, but they can’t get to HQ because of previously scheduled client meetings. At $300 a head, you’re about to lose $3,000 because those 10 attendees can’t come. Or, best-case scenario, they’ll attend the virtual event — for free.
If you plan a micro event in Portland, they’ll buy tickets and attend in-person because they don’t have to fly across the country and miss out on that crucial client meeting. Problem solved!
6. Ensure Health and Safety
As a result of the pandemic, many attendees will never feel comfortable attending large in-person gatherings again. The benefit of satellite events is that each one will be accountable to local policies for health and safety, which may help convince on-the-fence attendees to sign up. They’re also more intimate and smaller, which has the benefit of delivering a more meaningful experience for attendees.
- Want to learn more about ensuring safety at in-person events? Read this article: “How To Safely Return To In-Person and Hybrid Events”
7. Increase Brand Affinity
One additional benefit of micro-events is that you can leverage your brand’s biggest fans as ambassadors by inviting them to lead the charge locally. For example, you might tap one or two customers or fans to be hosts for a satellite event or to headline the local event. Not only will these ambassadors invite their colleagues, friends, and others to the event — boosting attendance and revenue — but they’ll also feel a greater connection to your brand, which can have lasting effects.
How do I create a hybrid event with satellite events?
So, how exactly do you start planning an event that includes several micro-events scattered across the country? As you begin thinking about incorporating satellite events into your strategy, it’s worth researching other events that have demonstrated what a successful hybrid event looks like.
For example, #PrideSummit is a great event to emulate (and they’re working with Bizzabo’s event management software to make it happen). For 2022, the event features an in-person VIP experience with 10 concurrent satellite events in places like Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta, Seattle, and Portland. On top of this, there is a free virtual option. The result is a highly accessible, inclusive event for all.
Another great use case for micro-events is internal corporate events. For example, although sales kickoffs (SKOs) were traditionally large, in-person events with lots of hype and swag, today’s SKOs can leverage satellite events to cut down on travel time and costs. If you have sales reps across the country, create a series of local events with the keynote broadcasting from headquarters. This approach also lets your reps have more intimate interactions with colleagues in the area.
Extend Your Event’s Reach With Satellite Events — and Bizzabo
If you’re trying to figure out how to create a powerful, high-impact event that features options for in-person and virtual attendees — including satellite events — we should talk. Long before the pandemic pushed events virtual, we were helping businesses around the globe plan, execute, and measure the success of their in-person events. Yes, we’re the original experts on in-person event experiences.
Want to know how we can help you achieve success through meaningful event experiences and engagement opportunities? Schedule a demo and see the Event Experience OS in action.