Is This The New Normal Of Events?
Technology continues to break the limitations brought by the ongoing pandemic, and has since transformed the way people communicate, study, and work in ways we never thought was possible. Discover how this transformation has remarkably change the future of corporate events.
The pandemic was a time of experimentation to corporations, especially when it comes to event gatherings. Companies have switched and experimented virtual conferences, interactive webinars, and online tradeshows that turned out to be just as lively, and may even be better in many ways compared to pre-pandemic corporate events.
But not for long—companies are exploring another exciting event strategy: the hybrid event. In fact, 58% of corporations are now planning for a mix of virtual and in-person session to embrace the new normal.
It is only reasonable to do so, given that society continues to face the complexities of COVID-19, with borders, distance, and movement restrictions changing every now and then. So, read on to find out more about the hybrid event—and how it can turn into a flexible event strategy that actually delivers.
What Counts as a Hybrid Event?
If you are looking for the best of both worlds, a hybrid event is the answer. These events provide real-time event experiences for both in-person and virtual participants.
Does this mean that if a corporation streams an event, it is already a hybrid event?
Take a look at what actually counts as a hybrid event.
An event is not considered hybrid if:
- The participant only watches a shared video after the event.
- The participant streams the event sessions through their mobile device.
- The in-person participant has exclusive event sessions vs the online participants.
A hybrid event, on the other hand, is…
- An event that is held live for both in-person and virtual participants
- An event that gives equal amount of engagement and sessions for both participants
- An event that provides a secure environment for both participants
The most important facet of a hybrid event is that it is essentially two experiences in one event. One event experience should not surpass the other—which is actually quite tricky to handle, but we’ll get more to that later.
Each experience, whether virtual or on-site, should engage and reap benefits for an organization’s workforce and their target audience.
The Benefits of a Hybrid Event
A hybrid event has key advantages that makes it a viable event strategy that is flexible enough to deal with a digitally-transformative society. Adapting a hybrid event strategy means opening an organization to better opportunities for orienting, engaging, and satisfying current and potential customers, partners, and sponsors.
Find out the three most worthwhile benefits of hybrid events that you shouldn’t miss out:
- Reach and engage target audience through diverse opportunities.
Hybrid events give customers and partners the liberty to attend an event based on their preferences. Whether they are eager to participate in-person or virtually, they are still entitled to engaging and interesting activities. Corporations can provide memorable interactive sessions through on-site and virtual venue tours or exhibitions, gamified experiences, special networking opportunities, and exclusive Q&A schedules with speakers.
- Boost event revenues through customized branding features.
Because hybrid events focus on providing two experiences in a single event, companies can maximize this opportunity to diversify the brand experiences for audiences. Brands can set multiple ticket variations for exclusive event sessions such as new product demos, exhibitor breakout rooms, and sponsored contests. Digital-enabled platforms for both in-person and virtual events can also help sponsors, partners, exhibitors, and potential customers to connect faster and easier.
- Yield rich data analytics for better marketing and sales pipelines.
Since hybrid events result to wider audience reach and scalability, companies can gain more attendees, sponsors, and networking prospects. Data from in-person and virtual sessions will also give rich insights on customer behavior and interests. Ultimately, these analytics can help plan more engaging and profitable future events, optimize event experiences, and develop new marketing campaigns for other company endeavors like new products and services.
How to Successfully Carry Out Your Hybrid Event
It’s a fact: pivoting to hybrid events is not easy as handling solely in-person or virtual events. This kind of event will also have its challenges, like additional operational costs and handling audience envy resulting from event comparisons.
Never let your hybrid event turn into a corporate disaster.
Succeed in your first hybrid event with these key action plans.
- Build an interactive community prior to the event.
An event community is crucial in connecting business leaders, official partners, and industry experts through different social platforms. Online communities also build up anticipation for the event, and increases event visibility for other potential attendees.
To keep your event community lively and interactive as possible, launch social polls, surveys, digital challenges, and other relevant and engaging content prior and during the event proper. Prepare exclusive giveaways, prizes, and discounts for those participating in online community activities.
- Perform rigorous testing in all platforms, apps, and hardware.
One of the inevitable event challenges that organizations have to deal with is operational inefficiency. App crashes, faulty software, and malfunctioning platforms will definitely earn the ire of your attendees. While these kinds of technological errors may not be entirely avoided or foreseen in any way, it still pays to be prepared.
Before apps or event platforms are launched, assign IT teams to rigorously test hybrid platforms, apps, and other devices. Report all errors and other concerns days prior to the intended launch, and conduct remediation or troubleshooting schedules to provide ample time to resolve these errors.
- Delegate separate teams for in-person and virtual sessions.
The main highlight of hybrid events is its equal share of event experiences for in-person and virtual attendees. This equality should not just be limited to the kind of event activities that they are participating in, but also the kind of service they will receive.
To solve this issue, form dedicated support teams for both in-person and virtual sessions. Recruit the most dedicated talents to fill in the most important teams such as registration and user journey, logistics, production, and sponsorship. Read more on how to build the right team for a hybrid event here.
- Implement safety guidelines for in-person and virtual participants.
Attendees have every right to be concerned about their safety, especially now that we are still in the middle of a pandemic. Health specialists continue to remind everyone to wash hands, wear masks, and practice social distancing. So, for in-person events, post signages for your local COVID guidelines and include them in IDs or event materials as well.
On the other hand, virtual event participants should also be assured of their own safety concern: cyber threats. Launch identity verification procedures for all attendees to verify identity and document authenticity. Control user privileges for event platforms to avoid unauthorized procedures. And most of all, deploy secured data acquisition and storage solutions for all attendee information.
- Offer on-demand contents for the attendees.
Hybrid events can be a starting point for solid brand reputation and stronger business partnerships. As a post-event strategy, offer on-demand contents for sessions replays or event materials that can be viewed and downloaded. The said contents are great ways to gather user engagement data, which organizations can use to generate more leads and promote future hybrid events.
In offering on-demand contents though, a digital platform like a website or an app should be available all-year round to continue providing new contents like games, polls, videos and other offers to engage audience and keep them anticipating for the next hybrid event.
In the new normal, hybrid events offer superior benefits both for organizations and attendees involved. But as with all events, a hybrid event needs to be well-thought of and carefully planned to truly benefit from using it as a strategy. Organizations are advised to review their resources, workforce skills, and target audience’s best interests before fully investing in a hybrid event.