Did you know that hybrid events have been around since 2012? And currently around 97% of marketers expect hybrid events to be the primary focus of their strategy in 2021.
Not convinced yet? Then let’s dive in a bit further.
The onset of the paradigm shift started long before the pandemic. Although the social distancing requirements made virtual events a necessity, management companies were already trying to expand their reach via live streaming and interactive modules.
As the latest coronavirus wave recedes, a section of the industry plans to go back to the original model while others have perfected the remote structure.
Enter: Hybrid Events.
A hybrid event combines the in-person and digital experiences in a way that they complement each other. The visitors will go from being spectators to participants, no matter which format they choose.
What the future holds is nothing more than a speculation right now but, here is why it will make way for hybrid hosting.
The Pros of Hybrid Events
The Power of Choice
The parity created during the past year has left some planners waiting to get back to reality. With the travel bans lifted, they will have the power to host limited capacities and simultaneously have the event’s viability uncompromised. Instead of creating two different events, hybrid will drive multiple narratives in a single picture.
Extensive Audience Coverage
Not stuck within a venue’s parameters, hybrid events can capture visitors, consumers, traders and exhibitioners across the world. Plus, given the current conditions, it leverages the power of virtual events, allowing complete networking on both fronts.
The setup in a virtual environment costs a fraction of the infrastructure needed for a live gathering, so it will significantly decrease the cost per head. The physical aspects can be scaled down in line with the segregated audience.
What differentiated virtual events from their physical counterparts was the ease of interaction and movement. Hybrid events cross that threshold by putting the attendees’ comfort as a priority. By giving control to the visitor, the setup aims to create a human experience at the digital end.
The resumption of in-person events is on the horizon, yet things will never be the same again. Future events will adapt as smaller in-person attendance is coupled with a vast virtual audience. Although the location, purpose, and industry will vary, specific components will form a crucial part of the plans.
For example, engagement and marketing would need to be divided into three sections – the main event, virtual platform and social media presence.
What Would Hybrid Events Be Like?
Attendee Analysis with Real-Time Data
The influx of data from the virtual components will allow you to see actionable insights in comparison to the in-person crowd. The interaction levels, logistics, sales and marketing could be correlated across the platforms. Attendees could even upload their own data and lend a comprehensive registration procedure.
Virtual Environments Overlapping the Physical Ones
Any expectations you had about the in-person visitors as per your past experience stands null and void. Hybrid events will lean towards creating a holistic virtual capability, synergizing a compact live setup. Think speakers, conferences, and presenters performing for a small audience and being broadcast across the globe.
Elaborate Tech Setups
To keep the physical and digital parts in sync, hybrid events will see heavy duty equipment that focuses on lag-free streaming, seamless connectivity and maybe even AR/VR capabilities. The core plan will move from creating an aesthetic to making a compatible connection.
Reduction of Food and Beverage Offerings
A reduced public gathering will naturally call for a toned-down F&B section. It may even be eliminated, keeping in mind the health and safety of the attendees. Instead, particular budgets and spaces would be allocated to audio and video teams to maintain the event’s consistency and flow. A group of professionals will also be needed to manage any customer issues and queries.
Synergy between the Physical and Digital Audiences
Unlike virtual events, there won’t be any distinctions between in-person and virtual experiences. Accordingly, the online and offline audience will interact with one another through a robust environment. Integrations at multiple touchpoints will be the key indicators of success. Interestingly, this also applies towards creating an event design that aligns with the audience’s expectations as a whole.
Moderators Will Be the Tipping Point
Whether it be a live Q&A session or revving up the virtual audience, a lot of importance will be placed on having the right mediators to keep an event going. As it happens with most online events, the audience takes a backseat with minimal involvement, treating the whole space as an elongated lecture. Hybrid events would call for specific interactions with exhibitors. Hence, this could be a significant contributor in the planning stage.
No matter if you’ve read the whole article or skipped to the bottom, the single word answer to your question is – YES! Hybrid events are indeed the future.
Nevertheless, there is a certain level of uncertainty and doubt about how this new kind of normal will fall into place. The key to everything on the table would be a practical application of technology and coordinated management between the two verticals.
To summarize, here are a few pointers to help you to wrap your head around the concept.
- Technological innovations will need to be applied on a holistic basis. Both the physical and virtual aspects must be considered when introducing something new.
- Since there are no bounds to the number of people who can visit a hybrid event, it would be prudent to have your servers and physical space prepared for the maximum attendees you can think of.
- Lightning-fast customer service would be expected. Engagement tracking will allow you to study and improve multiple aspects on the go.
- Hybrid events essentially call for interaction between the in-person and virtual audience. But, that is not something written in stone. The aim of the event should be to allow visitors to move and interact as they please.
A lot is yet to be seen on the implementation of such plans. So, as the saying goes, the early bird will unequivocally get the biggest worm! If you need some help in finding a venue to host your hybrid event, get in touch with is today and we will happily help.
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