Over the last year, as Virtual Events and online experiences have become an everyday ‘normal’ experience for many, there has been a lot of chat around the topic.
Hybrid Events, Live Events, Virtual Events, live broadcasts… what exactly are they? How do Hybrid Events work in practice? How (and why) are businesses using these forms of communication?
To better understand the new Hybrid Event event space lets roll back the clock a few years. Before the pandemic a large part of our business was delivering Hybrid Events, in fact we built our first virtual platform and interactive Web App back in 2013. In a similar way the world is identifying a need now, we saw back then the need for merging live and online audiences as one, in order to successfully deliver events for many of our pharmaceutical clients. The Pandemic has forced the live event experience into change, but this change can be a positive one, opening up many more possibilities for event organisers and businesses alike.
Here we take a look at the ins and outs of the Hybrid Event, its definition, and the hidden power of successful utilisation of the Hybrid Events for a variety of purposes.
How do you define a Hybrid Event?
According to Wikipedia “A Hybrid Event is a tradeshow, conference, seminar, workshop or other meeting that combines a “live” in-person event with a “virtual” online component.” We would go one step further to insist that the ‘virtual’ component comprises a live audience who can engage with, and influence, the content in real time.
How does a Hybrid Event actually work?
As described above a Hybrid Event is a Live Event, with an in-person audience and a virtual audience. How it works totally depends on the type of event, the set up, the production, the content and many more factors. The ‘Live’ Event element is just that – live – but is also made available, in real time, to an audience at home, or elsewhere online. This may be via a series of live streams, meetings or webinars with other forms of content such as presentation slides, polls and live Q&A and is hosted on an online platform that the virtual audience accesses securely online via a personalised log in.
Hybrid events create an inclusive environment for live events. They extend beyond the conference room, inviting the audience to comment, question, vote and interact in real time whether sitting in the front row or attending virtually at home from anywhere in the world.
Here are our top four ways to use Hybrid Events successfully:
1. Use Hybrid Events to boost attendance and increase external audiences
Hybrid Events are 100% inclusive. Audiences are not determined or restricted by geography. Therefore, a B2B or B2C external event’s attendance can be massively boosted if it is turned into a Hybrid Event.
Those who could not attend in the flesh (for various reasons) can still attend online and engage in a way that provides them with huge value. Ticket revenue can be improved and the quality of discussion can be enhanced with more feedback, greater interactivity, deeper conversation and varying viewpoints.
2. Use Hybrid Events to improve inclusivity for internal audiences and foster company collaboration
Cost, workload, departmental operations and travel time are all major factors that influence an internal events strategy, and impact who will be on the invite list. From a sales kick off to an internal training course or annual conference internal events can be a cause for unrest within the workforce. By making these Hybrid, all employees can be included, their opinions heard and acted upon and company culture enriched as a result. According to Willis Tower Watson, companies with effective communication strategies see 47% higher total returns to shareholders. That’s a statistic not to be sniffed at. (This great article by Staff base includes some other great insight too.)
3. Use Hybrid Events to increase sponsorship ROI
It will come as no surprise that offering sponsors new ways of showcasing products, branding, content and getting in touch with attendees directly will make a huge positive impact to sponsorship ROI. Live Events which also have a Hybrid Event element can reach wider audiences – tick (see point 1).
They can engage those audiences in new ways that Live Events cannot (and in ways that complement Live Events.) What’s not to love?
4. Use Hybrid Events to reduce environmental impact, but achieve the same objectives
As we’ve seen during the Covid Pandemic, and when international travel was banned, people could still get together, meet, collaborate, work, and succeed, virtually. No, it isn’t quite the same in terms of experience and Virtual Events will always have a place, but there is also most definitely a place for Hybrid Events too. If an event’s objective can be achieved using a Hybrid or Virtual Event format and the travel cost (and environmental impact) of that event is reduced, then that proposes a huge upside. Over 100 of the world’s biggest and most influential Global organisations have pledged to become carbon neutral. This illustrates the importance and commitment to reducing the impact of how we operate, and this trend is only going to pick up pace . Visit The Climate Pledge website for more info.
But what about an example? EDUCATION. Training events, internal upskilling events, staff development programmes and much more. Online, rather than in the room. The discussion is tracked, easy to access, content is available on demand and live, and the cost to the business and the environment is massively reduced compared to training face to face.