If “Zoom” was the word of 2020, then “Hybrid” is the new word of 2021. Hybrid events have been around for years. After the pandemic hit in 2020, it affected everyone’s plans, corporate events, weddings, travel. Everything just came to a grinding halt.
Online streaming, zoom calls, masks, and social distancing became the new norm practically overnight. As vaccines continue to be distributed and COVID-19 cases decline globally, more and more people are gathering once again for events.
This is where the hybrid factor comes into play for all upcoming meetings and events. What exactly is a hybrid event, and how do they work?
A hybrid event is a mix of people gathering for a live event with a virtual component. Remote attendees can log on and attend virtually, participate in Q&A’s and view the event live along with everyone else in attendance.
Attendees go to the event in person, with masks, if necessary. There will be social distancing guidelines in place depending on the county’s restrictions. The other “virtual” attendees will stream the content live from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
Depending on the budget and production value, you can have remote attendees not only be keynotes and present, but you can have the virtual attendees answer questions in real-time. They can also respond to polls and network too.
That’s essentially what a hybrid event is, and they are becoming increasingly popular as the new standard for all kinds of events in 2021 and moving forward.
Types of Hybrid Events
There are so many different types of hybrid events. There might be some hybrid events you may want to keep internally for just your employees, top executives, stakeholders, or individual teams.
You can pick a convenient location for those attending in person and stream the meeting live to the rest of the company. You can also host external events that either the public or a select group of attendees can register for.
This type of hybrid event is more advanced and will require a little more thought and production regarding hosting the meeting in person and virtually. You will want to keep all the in-person attendees engaged while also ensuring the virtual experience is top-notch, with no glitches and especially no “buffering” or “you’re on mute” situations.
Here are some examples of hybrid events:
- Annual Meetings
- Kick-Off Meetings
- Town Halls
- Q&A events
- Product launches
- Award Ceremonies
- Major Announcements
- Weddings, celebrations, even funerals
- Education sessions
- Top Sales Achievers
Goals of Hybrid Events
There’s a difference between a hybrid event and an event that’s been previously recorded and sent out to those who were unable to attend. Hybrid events treat both audiences equally.
The virtual attendees are just as important as the in-person ones. They should be given the same access to real-time events, keynotes, Q&As, as they are happening. It will be a much more engaging experience if the virtual attendees can see things progress in real-time.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t record the sessions. In fact, it’s highly advisable and even better if you can add a little editing and have it posted live on your platform. That way, your attendees can have more extended access to the content.
The goal of any successful hybrid event is, of course, no technical glitches, having engaging and educating content, and most importantly, the interaction between the live attendees, speakers, and the virtual ones.
Benefits of Hybrid Events
One of the benefits of hosting a hybrid event is that you will probably see the highest registration numbers your event has ever had. Since the world is still slowly getting back on its feet, not many people have made travel plans. It seems that everyone may still be in a holding pattern since we are currently living through history and are in uncharted waters.
Better Audience Engagement
A hybrid event is a perfect solution if your attendees decide last minute they want to attend in person or virtually. They won’t feel left out of your event.
Once your event occurs, you will also receive relevant metrics on who attended certain sessions, how long they were there, and if they asked questions. You’ll be able to mold your next event off of the data you receive post-event.
Lower Travel Costs
Suppose you pay for everything for your attendees to go to your event. In that case, your costs will go down significantly if they decide to attend the event virtually since you will not have to pay for airfare, hotel, meals, and transportation.
That’s another reason you should still have engaging and professional content for those unable to attend live. Virtual attendees also help the environment and reduce their carbon footprint in the process.
Higher Sponsorship Value
More and more companies want to sponsor hybrid events as they have a more extensive reach with the in-person component and an unlimited supply of virtual attendees. They save companies money by not sending representatives. They will receive metrics on the event that can show ROI, unlike anything we’ve seen in the past.
Hybrid Events Are the Future
Even when the world returns to “normal,” whatever that may look like, the meeting industry has been changed forever with the COVID-19 pandemic. Working from home and not traveling is going to stick with quite a few of your attendees.
No matter how many vaccines or low cases of coronavirus are in the vicinity at the time of your event, some people won’t feel comfortable attending large events moving forward. Providing a virtual component to some degree will help engage those attendees that just need time to feel at ease in a crowded ballroom once again.
Virtual events are never going to replicate the power that face-to-face meetings have. There are bonding moments during lunch, coffee breaks, or after the session in the lobby bar that a virtual component cannot compete with. That’s why hybrid events are the future of the meeting industry.
No matter what kind of event your thinking of hosting, if you add a virtual component with the right production company and seamless broadcasting over a secure network, it will make your event bulletproof. Consider a hybrid event format as a type of event insurance.
Of course, no one wants another pandemic, but even before Covid-19, natural disasters, extreme weather, and acts of terrorism stopped travelers from reaching their destinations.
If something were to occur, and most of your attendees could not attend last minute, you already have your virtual platform set up. So the meeting won’t be ruined, and you won’t have to cancel all your hard work.
Don’t go home. Go hybrid.