Is hybrid the new normal?
Many events teams are itching to get back to physical events in some way – you can’t beat the in-person networking opportunities and the energy you can create with lighting, sound and technology at a physical event.
However, hosting virtual events has had some significant advantages, such as:
- Increased global reach
- Higher profile or in-demand speakers (who wouldn’t be able to attend a physical event)
- Better attendee analysis
- Increasing sponsorship reach
- Opportunities for lengthening exposure of the event before and after – with content on-demand and virtual-only events.
Because of these benefits, many businesses are discussing retaining virtual aspects of their events for the near future.
“66.5% of event organisers plan to use hybrid as their go-to format once in-person events resume.”
“89% of event organisers say that virtual or hybrid events will be a part of their organisation’s long-term strategy.”
Drawbacks to hybrid
Hybrid brings added complexity and cost to an event’s structure, so it has to work for you and your audience. When considering how you structure your event, hybrid needs to augment and add value to your audience and stakeholder experience.
Hybrid also has a cost attached to it for hiring a physical venue (and all the extras such as catering, exhibition space, maintenance and security required) as well as hosting a virtual platform and the costs for developing and managing this.
If you are hosting a physical event, you need to comply with all the COVID and Health & Safety regulations for the country/area of the venue. This includes ensuring that there is enough distance between attendees, so your usual 500 person venue might only be able to welcome an audience that’s half of that. Despite a smaller audience – in a large venue, you will still require all the usual kit for a large conference: stage, stage set, PA system, lighting system and screen will need to be scaled for a 500 person room. So cost-effectiveness for actual attendee numbers needs to be considered before diving into hybrid.
In a physical world, attendees can ask questions by requesting a mic and putting their thoughts to a panel of experts or an expert speaker. In the virtual world, this isn’t as easy. For hybrid events, you will need to consider how you can go about Q&A’s and interactivity to make the virtual event just as satisfying for the attendees. For more ideas on this – check our insights on interactive tools for virtual events
Events suited to a hybrid setting
Having said all this, numerous events can benefit from the hybrid approach:
Critical external events
- Large congresses and events with a wide geographical profile – including medical/healthcare (nurses and doctors can attend), events focused on carbon reduction through virtual experiences.
- Tradeshows – enhancing the event and getting the most people involved with dedicated face-to-face experiences and online experiences. I.e. at a gaming con or event tradeshow.
- Product demonstrations (which can reach a wider audience than the usual amount going to a demo)
- Panel discussions/networking
Important internal business meetings
- Large strategy/ project planning meetings with international colleagues.
- Town Halls
- Stakeholder updates
Don’t go hybrid just because it’s popular; do your research to see if it will significantly benefit your delegates, speakers, and sponsors first. Hybrid can be cost-effective if done right – to help achieve a hybrid or virtual event that will please everyone, we offer specialised speaker support to ensure seamless sessions between live and virtual speakers. Talk to us at firstname.lastname@example.org