In our last article, we dove deep into the world of hybrid events. With all the uncertainty surrounding us with the ongoing pandemic keeping event venues shuttered and people more than 1 meter apart, it is imperative to rethink events in a post-Covid world. The focus has shifted to hybrid events as a means for organisations to hold an event while still adhering to the social distancing rules around the pandemic.
But, aside from the obvious and important health implications, what other benefits are there to hosting a hybrid event? Why should you host a hybrid event? Are they worth the extra set up and resources needed?
In today’s article, we’re going to take a look at how hybrid events are well worth the extra investment, set up and (minor) learning curve and why it’s time for you to adapt to the hybrid event life.
There is a common misconception when doing hybrid events that your audience can either take part virtually or in person without an in between. Many companies have been put off by the idea of hosting a hybrid event, because they feel that having an event in both the physical and virtual space will split the total attendance.
However, we’re here to tell you that the opposite is true. In fact, hybrid events allow you to increase your reach and gain more attendees, not fewer.
A study found that nearly 98% of attendees at a hybrid event were not planning to attend live, which means that your event can reach a new audience who were either uninterested in having to physically attend the event, or hampered by factors like location, timing and being unsure of the benefits of attending.
What this essentially means is that hybrid events can help to boost your attendance rate in future events, as it allows would-be attendees to have a taste of your event. According to another study, 23% of event organizers who hosted a hybrid event said more attendees participated in future events.
With a hybrid event, you essentially lower the barrier to entry for both demographics; those who want to attend, but can’t, and those who are unsure if your event is worth their time.
This increases your reach immensely, as you broadcast your event to a larger audience than ever could be possible in person.
Hybrid events have the benefit of having a virtual element working hand in hand with the live event, which opens up many more engagement opportunities than would be possible at a strictly live event, both during and post-event.
There are many ways to achieve this. You could have a Q&A session with a speaker live, then invite them to have a Q&A with your online audience, commonly at a studio that broadcasts your live event online. You could host polls during sessions to get live audience feedback from onsite and virtual attendees. You can also organize smaller breakout groups between onsite attendees and virtual attendees to help with networking.
This is due to the fact that the virtual audience is actively participating from their mobile devices or desktop computer, meaning they can interact, talk, share, like, comment and so much more. This also helps keep them engaged instead of being bored just watching a presentation on the screen.
By planning your event audience-first, you ensure that you weave in the necessary engagement opportunities that make the most sense to them.
Sponsorship dollars are vital to any event. The wide reach makes a hybrid component even more attractive to sponsors, as they are not only visible to the physical participants of the conference or event, but also to online participants. Your sponsors should be receiving the same or an even higher value from your hybrid event as they would just from an onsite event.
There are many ways to put your sponsors in front of both your virtual and in-person attendees and create value. For one, your sponsors can communicate more directly with interested parties while also interacting with online virtual attendees. Some demographics, particularly the younger generation, prefer virtual communication, which may lead to increased participation at their virtual booth.
There are many ways that hybrid events are incredibly valuable for sponsors, including:
More attendees at your event means a larger lead pool for them, which is always the number one reason for sponsorship.
Instead of sponsoring event collateral, whether in monetary value or through sponsorship of products, sponsors can opt to instead sponsor livestreams, event apps and sponsored on-demand sessions and content. This also offers you more flexibility in your sponsorship prospects, where you can offer up more sponsorship collateral like live sponsors, virtual sponsors, or both.
As budgets shift to increasingly digital areas due to the COVID crisis, sponsors will require the data to justify their spending. A hybrid event can report on many relevant metrics, ensuring your sponsors see that they spent their money well. We will be looking more at how metrics are vital further down in this article.
Most corporate sponsors are interested or open to explore in participating in a hybrid event, as long as they can effectively reach both audiences.
We’ve already seen the beneficial impacts that reduced travel is having on the environment. During lockdowns, streets have been empty, and even some of the busiest cities in the world have been completely deserted, which has meant that emissions have plummeted. There are even some reports that have suggested that overall global emissions dropped by around 6% at the height of the pandemic, which is equivalent to the energy usage of India as a whole.
While there will never be a replacement for the face-to-face meeting, going hybrid is a great way to associate the encouragement of green thinking and the reduction of personal carbon footprints with your brand. In a way, your attendees can still take part in your event, while also doing their part to decrease carbon emissions around the world. Plus, with reduced onsite headcount, you’ll also have less need for catering and disposable utensils, which plays a small but significant part in keeping the environment safe.
In the same vein, hybrid events can significantly decrease travel costs across the board for everyone involved. Even as we continue to move into the next phase of this pandemic, where live events are becoming more plausible, there are still opportunities to create virtual processes that save cash.
While attendees saving money is obvious, hybrid events can also allow for decreased travel costs for your sponsors and crew. Your sponsors can save on travel costs by sending fewer representatives to your event. If you include virtual sponsorships as well, they can participate 100% online while still generating value.
Another example is the hiring of AV crews skilled in virtual broadcasting, without having to have a whole team of experts and technological solutions to achieve your goals. This means that you’ll save money on costs, as do they.
When budgets are tight, hybrid events are excellent for bridging the gap between cost and results, for attendees and sponsors alike.
With a hybrid event, you don’t just have an event and be done with it. Because this is what happens: people who cannot attend or who have never been heard of your event, can still pick up the highlights of the conference online. Instead of keeping your event exclusive, you can easily repurpose and share digital content to keep a steady stream flowing to your audience.
Streaming your event also has the added benefit of ensuring you don’t forget to record anything. With all the focus on broadcasting, you’ll be happy to know that all your content is recorded for later use. You can then split your event highlights into smaller, sharable clips to be viewed online, on-demand at any time.
You can also determine future marketing campaigns from the content of your hybrid event. For example, you could analyse the questions received at different sessions and see if there are any common questions that could help you to provide content in the form of answers to further engage your audience. This will further help to push your marketing well beyond the event date.
It is often difficult to estimate or even calculate the return on investment for events due to the many, many parts that make up an event. However, hybrid events often offer increased ROI, due mainly to the increased reach and the scalability of the event. Because you are getting more attendance through your hybrid events, it helps to translate into much greater views for sponsors and more sign ups after the event, which expands the long-term reach and also taps into a whole new audience.
Hybrid events typically use technology that only needs to be set up once, then it’s easy to replicate that process at all of your future events. Plus, a virtual event platform doesn’t require crews for set-up and take-down, minimizing the cost. Furthermore, there is also potential to scale down your live event while scaling up your online presence. This allows you to reduce onsite costs while still reaching a large audience and increasing your margins.
Not to mention…
One of the best benefits of having a hybrid event comes from the data and the insights that you can glean.
With hybrid events, you know the participation numbers, plus how they engaged and when they dropped out of the session. You’ll get to evaluate your attendees’ data during the event, so you can gain information on your attendees’ interests through matchmaking data and session participation, which can help you improve your future content. Make sure to follow up with those attendees who attended a lot of sessions, asked a lot of questions, or actively engaged in Q&A sessions with your sponsors. With this, your sponsors will also be able to receive essential info on booth traffic and attendee engagement, helping them prove a positive return on investment.
For example, at a live event, you only get a headcount and estimate how many viewers participated in a session. However, with hybrid events, you can also opt to send out a post-event survey to get a sense of which content resonated with people, and how your attendees felt about their onsite versus virtual experiences.
Because of the online nature of hybrid events, you gain a lot of trackable metrics that will help you learn more about your event and improve it in the future. A hybrid event platform is essential for providing these sort of metrics and insights, something that you simply cannot properly measure offline.
If you’re still unsure about the validity of a hybrid event, consider what would happen to your event if travel was disrupted again. Whether it is a global pandemic like COVID-19, or a natural disaster like the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in Iceland which affected nearly 10 million travellers, planning a live event with no digital backup plan is quite dangerous, especially when technology is so accessible today.
Without a hybrid event platform to fall back on, your event would simply be cancelled, and your attendees would find something else to fill the time, not to mention the burden of wasting your own time and resources. The infrastructure and investment into hybrid events ensures you are well-prepared for virtual events, meaning that you aren’t scrambling when external forces conspire to threaten or cancel your event.
Instead of putting all your efforts and resources into a live event, adding hybrid events to the mix diversifies your portfolio and ensures you will have a successful event, no matter what.
It’s difficult to imagine how a post-COVID-19 world will look like. However, one thing for certain is that this crisis has changed how we use technology in our daily lives.
Working from home is now considered ‘the new normal’ for businesses and their employees across the world. Large corporations like Google and Facebook have announced that their employees have been given the option to work from home for the rest of the year, and Twitter has made working from home a permanent option for all employees. While there are pros and cons to remote work, no one can deny that it is something that may be here to stay, even in a world without a pandemic.
That being said, your audience has shifted their needs, and your event needs to adapt to continue providing them. Hybrid events allow you to cater to both demographics: those who wish to participate live, and those who want to participate in their own way. Sponsors are shifting their budgets to adjust to the changing environments, and will sponsor your virtual or hybrid event if you can ensure your attendees engage and interact with them. If you’re only interested in only keeping live events in your portfolio, you’ll be left out in the cold very soon.
As our world comes to grips with the pandemic, there is a good chance that the future of the events industry will forever be changed. The pandemic has changed how we have adapted to the technology that is available to us in our daily lives. This means that the needs of your audiences have changed, and as a result, you need to ensure that you’re adapting to these needs.
Given the prevalence and accessibility of online technology, hybrid events will be one of the forefront platforms in which events will be organized for the long term. While live events can never be replaced, it is good to be prepared in terms of the investment and infrastructure needed to incorporate some virtual elements to ensure that unforeseen circumstances will not be able to affect your event.
Having an event management company that understands the know-hows of turning your next hybrid conference or event into a success is important. At Milestone Production, we’re well-versed with plenty of experience in hybrid event planning, from the platform we use down to the different ways to improve interaction between onsite and virtual attendees. Our solid team will ensure that all your hybrid event needs are met, with customisable solutions for events of any size.
Take your first dive into Hybrid event with us , and experience the unthinkable.
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