The new normal – hybrid events: All you need to know
In light of recent developments related to the coronavirus, many event organisers have decided to explore new ways to bring people together and create shared experiences. If "social distancing" has taught us anything, it is the value of human connection: In business, as in life, there is no substitute for bringing people together. Although the COVID 19 crisis has shifted us almost entirely to the Internet for the time being, in the future digital devices and tools should be used to complement rather than replace personal events.
Fortunately, this way, events are no longer uncharted territory. Many event organisers have been opting for hybrid events for some time now. To guide you through these unusual times, we will inform you about how hybrid conventions can bring you entirely new benefits.
What is a hybrid event?
Nico Berchten (evenito CEO & Co-Founder) calls the definition of a hybrid event a physical event in which an online audience also participates. In essence, both the physical and online audiences come together and participate in the same experience and content at the same time, but from different locations. Depending on the digital platform on which the hybrid event is streamed, even interaction and networking options are possible.
8 advantages of hybrid events:
1. New dimensions
In our everyday life we already move between two worlds - the online and offline world. While mobile phones have so far caught the attention of event visitors, they can be integrated now and in the future and become an important component between these two worlds. Accordingly, the reach, interactivity and communication within the event can be increased through multimedia. Guests from all over the world can virtually participate in the event, even if they cannot be physically present.
2. Greater reach beyond geographical borders
Hybrid conferences enable the organizer to minimize costs and increase international coverage. A wider audience can be reached and a considerably larger target group can be addressed. People, customers or employees from all over the world can participate via the Internet without having to invest travel time and costs. In addition, experts and speakers can be easily connected from outside the company, despite a busy schedule.
3. Time and place become a secondary consideration
With a hybrid event, you remove not only the factor "place", but also the factor "time". If the event is recorded, it can still be viewed digitally around the world in the future, extending the long-term reach and also opening up a whole new audience. In addition, questions or comments from the virtual viewers can be just as helpful suggestions and details, which can, for example, be asked live in the chat or communicated afterwards.
4. Attractiveness for sponsors
The large reach makes a hybrid component even more attractive for sponsors. They are visible not only to the physical participants of the event, but also to the digital participants. And not only during the live experience, but also in the future through video recordings. Combined with the fact that a hybrid event or live stream can also generate coverage, for example, especially via social media, a hybrid event is one of the most attractive offers for sponsors.
5. Interaction via all channels
Events create space for all kinds of interactions that shape the community, whether offline or online. By connecting the two worlds and their interaction possibilities, all channels and also people can be reached and played. By means of surveys, chats and Q&A's, questions and opinions can be asked before, but also during and after the event. This allows for an optimal response to the guests on site, but also to those with virtual access. Because especially with this new type of event, communication and the digital experience of the participants is very important.
Bringing groups of listeners together through the hybrid format reduces the need for travel. This not only minimizes the costs and CO2 emissions caused by transport, but also downtime for visitors' travel. In addition, by reducing the number of participants on site, it also reduces the amount of discarded meals and the transportation of all the furnishings, such as chairs and tables.
The fact that not all participants and event participants have to travel to a certain location already means considerable cost savings. Added to this is the added value of choosing the venue (and not the guests) in line with the purpose of the event but also the budget, and the flexibility in the design of the event. Hybrid events allow you to save on space, transport, catering, accommodation and, last but not least, CO2 emissions.
8. New technological possibilities
The connection between the live and online audiences poses a great challenge. Technological possibilities, which can be made applicable by event management software with corresponding functions, for example, can help here. On the one hand, more data can be collected, which provides the basis for personalisation and automation, and on the other hand, more targeted networking, for example through participant lists and chat functions. From automation to data collection to event insights: Event management technology gives you the opportunity to improve the attendee experience and prove the ROI of your event. Among other things, upcoming events can be optimised quickly and consistently based on feedback from all attendees through Q&As and polls.
Hybrid events: conclusion
Hybrid events are a balancing act between personal and virtual visitors, whose experiences should be harmonised. You will have to convey your content differently for both groups, making sure that the video transmission works and that the presenters are prepared for it. In the end, however, it should not feel like two completely different events. The goal is to create an event with two experiences.