We have now just entered into 2021, and despite all that most of the companies in this industry have been through the last year, we would still consider the year 2020 to be wholesome. There was a lot to process during the year 2020 and, at the same time, so much to learn. One thing that we learned from the crises last year was how to remain resilient.
The events industry undoubtedly was hit severely due to COVID-19, and initially, there wasn’t much that one could do about it. However, the one thing that turned out so beautiful was that everyone in the industry was each other’s competitors before the virus. What happened after that was something that none of those companies in the industry expected. Because each of us within the industry was going through a similar situation, the only way we could survive and get through the mess was by collaborating and helping each other. In a way, COVID-19 was a blessing in disguise because the one thing it taught us was that it is together that we move ahead stronger.
Switching from physical to online to hybrid wasn’t something that we thought would happen anytime soon. However, we learned that this works the best and is advantageous to so many people, and is indeed one of the most beneficial and profitable ways of conducting an event.
The inclusion of technology in creating a good experience for people has given people a better experience, and it has helped companies serve people on a whole new level. Technology has made it possible to make every experience of the event as personalized as possible so that the end-users or the members have something to remember forever. The competition hence, now just got tougher because this time, one has to fight for the customer’s attention.
What exactly is a hybrid event?
In simple words, hybrid events are a mixture of having a physical event and an online event. In this case, the event that will be happening on site will be broadcasted live to the audience attending the event from home or elsewhere through social media such as YouTube Live, Instagram Live, Facebook Live, etc., or a customized virtual events app.
Online platforms enable the audience to participate in online polling and quizzes, ask questions, and interact with the panel and the onsite attendees.
What are the different types of hybrid events?
Now that we know what hybrid events are, we can now discuss the different types of hybrid events. Yes, hybrid events are held for various purposes. These events can be held onsite as well as virtually. Companies can conduct hybrid events for the team members, sponsors, etc., or the general public and are hence separately termed as external events and internal events.
Internal Hybrid Events
Internal hybrid events are usually held for people within the company, like employees, staff, internal stakeholders, etc. Following are the examples of internal hybrid events.
- trade shows
- sales Kick-offs
- global Town Halls
External Hybrid Events
External hybrid events are events that are organized, targeting people outside the company. These are people like customers and potential customers. Following are the examples of External Hybrid Events. Following are the examples of External Hybrid Events
- virtual conferences and trade shows
- customer conferences
- product demonstrations
- virtual hybrid exhibitions
When should you host a hybrid event?
Deciding upon when to host a hybrid event is critical. Are you expecting a massive turnover for your invitation? Do you have potential people from outside the state or country interested in attending your event but cannot due to travel costs? There are several factors to be kept in mind before hosting hybrid conferences. Hence you first need to ask yourself; Does my event require a hybrid setup?
Hosting these events requires a lot of planning and organizing, just like hosting a physical event, and maybe a little bit more. Although Hybrid events are more profitable than a physical event because compared to a physical event, a hybrid event can have an increased amount of reach. Hybrid events are useful when you have a massive number of people coming to your event.
The Core Elements, Goals, and Advantages of a Hybrid Event
It is essential to identify what you want to achieve through your hybrid event. Different events will have different agendas, and it is crucial to think deeply about each of them and how you will impact your attendees through it.
Core Elements of a Hybrid Event
Let us now learn the different set of elements that will make your event a memorable one.
If it weren’t for the content you are giving out to people, your people would probably be elsewhere rather than being at your event. People invest their time into coming to events to gain something valuable out of it. Hence, you must give them value when they invest in attending the event. When planning your online program, you must make sure that all your speakers are well prepared and are ready with engaging presentations. You should ensure that your onsite and your virtual attendees stay with you till the end of the event.
Prospective attendees will not know about your event unless it is marketed well. Coming up with a good advert that will excite your audience about the event is essential. Ensure that you tell your audience what they are in for and ensure that your message is good enough to make them curious about your event. Your website design and any landing pages involved in the registration should contain the necessary information keeping your audience well informed about the event.
You must ensure that the registration process for your event is as seamless as possible. If the people have any queries about the registration or the event, they should be a means to get in touch with you quickly. The advantage of having an online registration process is that you benefit from tracking incomplete registration, which can help you send a reminder to those who didn’t complete the registration process.
What are the Goals of a Hybrid Event?
The primary purpose of conducting any event is to bring people together and to keep them engaged throughout the event. In the case of a hybrid event, both the virtual audience and the onsite audience must be kept engaged and given the experience to remember. The event should have content that will leave an impact on the audience. Simultaneously, the website interface, the app design should be excellent and engaging. The onsite and the virtual attendees within the event should interact with each other and make connections. Hence, keeping these factors in mind, the entire event should be designed and organized accordingly.
Advantages of having a Hybrid Event
One of the best attributes about hosting a hybrid event is that you have the advantage of giving your audience the experience of a physical event and a virtual event. If it weren’t for COVID-19, we wouldn’t feel so forced to get into digital events. This change probably would come way in the future than now. The involvement of technology in the events management industry was till the sound systems, the computer, projectors, etc. We are now already at a phase where we have learned to integrate Audio Reality and Virtual reality into this giving the audience the ultimate experience on a whole other level. Even though people adjusted to this change of attending meetings and events online due to the compulsion of staying at home, we realized that this was one of the most effective ways of having an event and getting more people to attend it at the same time.
While we cannot completely do away with having physical events because, as human beings, we depend upon human connections, incorporating the element of having an online platform gives convenience to those who may not attend the event otherwise.
Hybrid events are beneficial when the member who would otherwise attend the event cannot participate in it due to several reasons like
- They have limited travel amount to spend
- They have other commitments on the same date
- They want to reduce the amount of carbon footprint
- The venue has a limited capacity
Following are the advantages of having a hybrid event
1. Increased Attendance
One of the most significant advantages of hosting a hybrid event is that you will have more people attend your event online than people only attending the event at a physical venue. When a physical event is streamed live for the audience worldwide, more people can participate.
2. Enhanced Content Engagement
Another advantage of hosting a hybrid event is that the live-streamed session can be recorded and kept online for those who missed the event on the primary day of the event or your online audience to watch it again if they wish to. The recorded event thus can be kept for reference for a later date.
3. Lower Carbon Footprint
With fewer people travelling for the event, there will be a considerable decrease in the travel cost usually involved in this event. There will be fewer meals thrown away, less environmental pollution involved, which acts as an advantage for both the environment and your company.
4. Increased Sponsorship Value
While hosting your hybrid events online, your sponsors will have more exposure worldwide depending upon the event’s type. Hybrid events will help you provide more value to your sponsors than a physical event can, as there will be more people attending the event online.
Creating a successful hybrid event
The first step of having a successful hybrid exhibition is to navigate through the pitfalls of the event. By estimating what could go wrong during your event, you can prepare yourself well and avoid these mistakes.
1.Remember that your event is giving out two different types of experiences.
The audience you are going to be serving consists of the online and the offline world. Hence, keeping this in mind, your content has to be such that it supports both your audience on their toes. The activities planned for your audience should be such that both your audiences should participate in them jointly.
Your audience is here for the content you are offering to them; hence, your speakers must be trained well and know how they will deliver their message. The online interface should be well planned and designed to provide convenience to your online attendees. Remember that your content is everything!
If your event is broadcasted to an audience overseas, make sure that they are informed about the event’s timing held in their time zone. This will create less hassle and more convenience to keep that time scheduled for attending your event.
4.Attending to Virtual Attendees
It is crucial to have a person dedicated to moderating the online chats and queries of those attending the event online. Your online audience should not be overlooked and should be given priority, just like how your physical attendees would have.
Recording the event and streaming it online will be of an advantage to those who missed the event. You can also use small clips of this recording and use it elsewhere so that your event is not only remembered, but you can also create small pieces of valuable content.
Analytics is the most important part of your event, right from the time of promotion, to registration to the happening of the final event, analytics of how and from where people got to your event will help you improve your marketing and also enable you to know how to serve your audience better the next time.
We still haven’t ultimately come out of crises, and we still have a lot to learn. We have yet come a long way than what we anticipated. Like how it’s said, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Likewise, the industry showed resilience when it was least expected to. While physical events won’t disappear completely, hybrid technologies have paved a path for a glorious future that is yet to come.