What is a hybrid event and why does my business need it?
Event marketing is going through a revolution. Lockdown restrictions, social distancing and new remote working models means the classic ‘fill a conference hall to the brim’ style model is dead. Enter the new hybrid event revolution, a space where in person and virtual events meet.
What is a ‘hybrid event?’
Hybrid events are simply, an event that occurs ‘live’ for in person attendees, and is also captured ‘virtually’ for audiences online or remote in real-time.
A hybrid event is not:
Streaming event sessions from your mobile device
A sharable video sent to attendees to watch on-demand after the event
Putting your live audience before your online audience
A hybrid event is:
An event that helps facilitate participation between a live and virtual audience
An experience that caters to all audiences in a secure environment
A platform that enables online and live audiences to engage on the same level
Key benefits of hybrid events
There are a number of key benefits to hosting hybrid events that can make it exceptionally appealing to businesses wanting to engage with their customers in a ‘post-pandemic’ environment:
Increased reach and attendance: Hybrid events allow your content to reach new audiences in exciting ways. In fact, a recent study found that nearly 98% of attendees at a hybrid event were not planning to attend live. Meanwhile, 23% of event organisers who hosted a hybrid event said more attendees participated in future events, and 65% said they saw no change in live attendance.
Higher engagement: Hybrid events allow all attendees, whether they are in person or remote to actively talk, share, like, comment and participate in polls, live Q&As or even quizzes in real-time.
Fresh networking opportunities: In a hybrid model, you can help live and virtual attendees network with each other. You could dedicate ‘speed networking sessions’ where attendees either meet in person or via online chat rooms.
Reduced travel costs: With global travel restrictions and corporate travel budget cuts, hybrid events can be a particularly powerful opportunity to gain attendee registrations while saving them the time and cost or covid restriction issues of travel.
Dangers and risks of hybrid events:
While hybrid events sound fantastic in theory, without the right systems, strategy or platform, the reality could be a logistical nightmare. When our clients entrust us with their hybrid events, here are some of the risks we flag from the outset:
Security risk: Ensure the platforms and systems you use are airtight from a security perspective. Ensure all attendees, whether live or in person log into the virtual systems securely, and all their contact data is managed in a highly secure manner.
Operational inefficiencies: If your marketer or conference organiser doesn’t understand the end-to-end production logistics of a hybrid event, then the whole process can soon become an absolute ‘sham circus that leads nowhere’. Ensure you hire an experienced, seasoned team or agency who you can trust will create a seamless production end to end.
Technical glitches: Like all digital activities, unforeseen internet, data or platform outages can risk your entire event going down the gurgler. Ensure you leverage the most robust, reliable hybrid event platforms, train all relevant staff and have backup internet options to minimise any glitches. A few good solid dry runs and rehearsals can also help stamp out any technical ‘gremlins.’
Dull content: With the onset of zoom fatigue, there’s no room for dull, dry boring content in a hybrid model. Ensure your speakers are engaged, the topics and presentations translate well in an online environment as well as offline (so no boring powerpoints), and there’s enough engaging activities to keep both virtual and in person attendees interested.
Why the future of event marketing is hybrid
The past two years have been an interesting ‘experimental ground’ for various hybrid events, from small-scale workshops to larger, global conferences. Given the vast learnings, the opportunities to evolve the hybrid model are limitless, particularly with the evolution of augmented reality, virtual reality and holographic experiences. The key is to ensure the experience always puts the audience front and centre, so your messages resonate with them at a deeper and more impactful level.
This article was originally published in Marketing Mag.