What are hybrid events?
Hybrid events is simply a combination of live and virtual events.
You take your live event, complete with public content, and more, and you add a virtual component to it so your audience can participate and engage with your event, no matter where they are.
Let’s look at that last part of the sentence: “… so your public can participate and occupy with your event, no matter where they are.”
The obligation is the essential ingredient in hybrid events.
It’s what differentiates your event from a TEDx video on YouTube. Inspiring, yes. Educational, definitely. But engaging? No.
Commitment is also what distinguishes a hybrid event from a live event with tech elements.
Your public won’t watch your event from their television, they’ll take part via their mobile devices or their computer, meaning they can offer feedback in real-time.
A hybrid event is not…
- Streaming your sessions from your phone
- A sharable VOD (video on demand) after the event
- Putting your live audience ahead of your online audience
- Seamless integration of technology to simplify participation among a live and virtual audience
- An experience that provide to all audiences in a viewer-friendly way
- Putting your online and live audience on the constant level
You put a lot of effort into planning the participant journey for your live participants.
You must show the same care to your virtual audience as well to ensure they get the most from your hybrid event.
What do hybrid events look like?
Hybrid events can take a multitude of presence, as it depends on your own event format and your audience.
However, the best hybrid events have one thing in common: they put the audience’s journey first, for both audiences.
This means treating your live and online public equally, and ensuring they can get the most from your event.
The journey for the online public is heavily reliant on content, as it’s the #1 reason for attending virtually.
And if that content is lacklustre, your would-be attendees won’t waste any time in leaving.
The best way to present your content in a commitment way is through a broadcast of your event.
A broadcast goes beyond a live stream and adds more committable elements, like:
- multiple cameras angle to add dynamism
- a virtual studio to host speakers and direct online guests
- a host that holds the emotion and energy high
When you’re selecting a virtual event platform, remember that your participants don’t want to repeat the literal experience of walking through your event.
What your attendees want to do is:
- Watch commitment content that teaches them something new, and
- Increase their network and make new professional contacts.
3D renderings of your event aren’t necessary to accomplish these goals.
In fact, they can often slow down your public by adding an unnecessary layer of complexity that can scare off less tech-savvy attendees.
Stick with virtual event platforms that focus on simplicity and a special user experience to ensure it’s easy to enjoy your hybrid event.
Benefits of hybrid events
So why should you host a hybrid event? Are they worth the extra set up and resources required?
Well, did you know hybrid events have occurred since 2012? The CDC presented a virtual event when they couldn’t afford to bring their guests together due to budget cuts.
But just because their guests couldn’t commune, didn’t mean their need for knowledge decreased.
So, they presented a hybrid event to ensure their public got the important information they required while working within their means.
It offered them the flexibility to keep their event running – one of the many advantages.
So as you’ll find out, hybrid events are well worth the bonus investment, set up and (insignificant) learning curve.
1. Increased reach & attendance
It’s a misconception that your public can either take part virtually or in person – there is no in-between. You may think that by hosting a hybrid event, you divide your total attendance.
However, the opposite is true. Hybrid events allow you to boost your reach and gain more attendees, not fewer.
2. Higher engagement with your audience
Adding a virtual element to your live event opens up many more appointment opportunities than would be possible at a strictly live event, both during and post-event.
This is because your virtual public is actively joining from their mobile devices or desktop computer, meaning they can talk, share, like, comment and much more.
3. More powerful sponsor opportunities
72% of corporate sponsors are interested in participating in a hybrid event, as long as they can efficiently affect both audiences.
That’s because hybrid events are incredibly valuable for sponsors, for a couple of reasons.
Reason one is the increased reach. More participants at your event mean a larger lead pool for them, which is the #1 reason for sponsorship.
4. Reduced environmental impact and costs
We’ve already seen the impact that decreased travel has had on the environment. Streets are empty in earlier gridlocked cities and emissions have plummeted.
While face-to-face conferences are still valuable, going hybrid is a great way to accommodate attendees who might feel guilty about their personal carbon footprint.
This way, they can still participate in your event and enjoy it, while also doing their part to decrease carbon emissions.
5. Reduced travel costs
Going with the same flow, hybrid events can significantly reduce travel costs over the board for everyone involved.
While participants saving money is evident, hybrid events can also permit for reducing travel costs for your investors and crew.
Work-from-home has become normal for companies and employees around the world.
6. Satisfy your marketing pipeline for the year
Rather than keeping your event special, you can easily repurpose and reshare digital content to keep a steady stream flowing to your audience.
For example, you can share the entire live stream (or certain pieces of it) to promote your future event. Sharing your live stream also ensures constant visualness for sponsors who are a part of the stream.
Streaming your event also has the added advantage of ensuring you don’t forget to record anything. With the high focus on broadcasting, you can rest calmly knowing all your content is recorded for later use!
7. Improved return on investment (ROI)
ROI is tricky to adjust at events because of all the moving pieces.
After all, hybrid events offer increased return on investment, due mainly to the increased reach and scalability.
Because you are getting more participation through your hybrid events, that can translate into greater views for sponsors and more sign-ups after the event.
8. Valuable data
A huge benefit of hybrid events comes from the data and the insights it shows.
For example, at a live event, you can do a headcount and estimate how many viewers attended in a session.
But with hybrid events, you know the attendance numbers, plus how they engaged and when they dropped out of the session.
You also gain information on your guests’ interests through matchmaking data and session participation, which can help you improve your future content.
As well, you gain lots of data to provide more detailed reporting on your performance
9. Greater flexibility
If you’re still in doubt about hybrid events, consider what would happen to your event if travel was disrupted again.
Without a hybrid event platform to fall back on, your event would simply not happen, and your participants would find something else to fill the time. That could mean a competitor event.
10. Address the changing needs of your participants
It’s absurd to say how the COVID-19 crisis will change the world when all is said and done.
After all, one thing for certain is that this crisis has changed how we use technology in our daily lives.
By some reports, almost half of the US workforce now works remotely. While there are pros and cons to remote work, no one can deny that it is possible.
As well, investors are changing their budgets to adapt to the unstable environments and will promote your virtual or hybrid event if you can ensure your participants interact and engage with them.