As the world starts to reopen following the recent lockdown endured, hosting an event may seem like a daunting experience. The restrictions currently in place make organising events with large numbers almost impossible, with an application process required to be completed and approved. If only there was a way to welcome a live audience both in person at a venue and online virtually through the power of technology? You’re in luck! They go by the name of hybrid events.
So, what are hybrid events?
Hybrid events are, quite simply, a mix of live and virtual events. You take your live event, complete with an audience, content and you add a virtual component to it so your audience can participate and engage with your event, regardless of their location.
What are the benefits of hosting a Hybrid event?
Are hybrid events worth the extra resources required? Here are just a few reasons why we think they are worth the additional initial investment and learning experience.
Increased reach & attendance opportunities
Firstly, we must settle the debate that your audience can only either participate virtually or in person, therefore splitting your total attendance. A study discovered that 98% of attendees at a hybrid event were not planning to attend live. This means the event itself reached a massive new pool of attendees. Hybrid events allow you to gain more attendees, not fewer.
Increased engagement with your audience
The addition of virtual elements to your live event presents many more engagement opportunities both during and post-event than would be possible at a stringent live event.
If managed correctly, your virtual audience will be active participants throughout the event on their mobile or desktop. They could be asking questions during a Q&A session with your speakers or sharing value in the event chat with other participants.
You must plan your hybrid event with audience involvement at the forefront. You must make sure that the engagement throughout enhances the experience of each participant.
Reduced environmental impact and costs
During the past 14 months, we have seen the impact on the environment reduced travel has had. And while face-to-face meetings are still beneficial and will resume in some capacity, hosting hybrid events is a great way to invite attendees who are cautious of their carbon footprint. This reduction in carbon footprint when adding a virtual element is an excellent opportunity for organisations to improve their approach to sustainability.
Reduced travel costs
During the recovery phase from the pandemic, it is likely that budgeting has become more stringent in your organisation. Hosting a hybrid event decreases the need for travel and the costs associated with this – accommodation & train/car/airplane costs. This aligns with the new normal of employees working from home or a blended office/home approach as hybrid events present flexibility to the attendee.
The ability to use content post-event
The content you create throughout the event shouldn’t need to remain event exclusive. It will undoubtedly provide a collection of more focused digital content that can be shared post-event through your social channels or on blog posts.
You will also gauge an understanding of what attracted the most engagement (more on that later) to inform future marketing campaigns. Plus, if you use the aforementioned Q&A session, you can use common questions asked by the audience to create content?
Improved data collection
One of the most beneficial aspects of hosting a virtual event is the data and insights gathered. This would otherwise not be available in an offline setting. You can identify the total number of participants throughout the session, was there any sections that saw a harsh drop-off.
During sign-up to the hybrid event, you can also use this as an opportunity to encourage attendees to sign up to your mailing list. We recommend offering an incentive to the attendees for this to produce the best results.
It can be considered dangerous to plan a live event without any digital contingency following the Covid-19 pandemic. It offers a level of protection against disruptive factors. Without this protection, your event may face cancellation and lead to your audience attending an event of greater convenience to them hosted by a competitor. The technology is there to be taken full advantage of. And hybrid events allows you to diversify your proposition and not place all of your eggs in one basket.
Host Your Own Hybrid Event
There has never been a better time to try hosting a hybrid event. The technology is there (we can help with that) and consumer behaviour is still on the fence with attending events in person during the recovery phase.
If a hybrid event is something you would like to try, or discuss in more detail, get in touch with our team at Story + Stage. We have years of experience providing AV for events throughout Scotland and would be delighted to share how we could make your event idea a reality. Contact us here or call directly on +44 1463 224788.