There’s no doubt that 2020 threw a wrench in everyone’s plans, but to say that event planners got the short end of the stick would be an understatement. Although most of the future is still uncertain, there is one thing we do know: hybrid events are the next big thing.
What are hybrid events?
Hybrid events are a mix of live and virtual events. Planning a hybrid event is much like planning a live event with an audience and content but adding a virtual element to it so that audience members can engage and participate with your event no matter their location.
Hybrid events integrate technology in order to facilitate participation between both live and virtual audiences. By offering the opportunity to engage online in real-time, you’re providing a unique yet equal way to cater to both live and online attendees.
How to execute a successful hybrid event
Depending on your event format and your target audience, hybrid events can take on multiple forms. However your event takes shape, it’s important to prioritize the user experience above all else.
In order for virtual attendees to feel just as welcomed and important as a live audience, carefully consider the quality of the content to be produced and the way in which it will be presented. If the virtual event lacks energy and valuable content, the audience won’t think twice about exiting the page. The best way to prevent this is to professionally broadcast the event.
A web broadcast goes beyond a livestream. Broadcasts have dimension, a virtual studio and an enthusiastic host to direct and engage with online attendees via a virtual event platform. When done correctly, a virtual event platform offers your online audience an exceptional user experience by providing a space to engage with the content being broadcasted and the opportunity to network with virtual attendees.
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The benefits of hybrid events
- Increase attendance and reach
A survey conducted after a hybrid event found that 96% of attendees would not have attended the event had it not offered the virtual element – proving that by offering multiple ways to access your event, you could potentially reach an entirely different audience that would not have attended otherwise.
Additionally, a study conducted by M.P.I. found that 23% of event planners who organized a hybrid event saw increased attendance in future events, and 65% of organizers reported no change in live attendance numbers.
- Higher audience engagement
When it comes to planning a hybrid event, putting the audience experience first will maximize engagement. The best way to do so is to provide features that allow the virtual audience to like, comment and share the content and network with other attendees from their computers or mobile devices.
- Get valuable data and insights
Because hybrid events include a virtual element, you have the opportunity to collect invaluable data and insights for both your benefit as an event planner and for sponsors. This data includes how many online attendees participated, in which ways, and if and when they logged out of the event. Additionally, you can obtain your specific audience’s demographics and psychographics to use for future events or marketing efforts.
Hybrid events provide flexibility in case your event is no longer able to take place live. If you’re no longer able to host an in-person event, you can easily shift into an entirely virtual event without having to scramble at the last minute. Overall, hybrid events don’t require you to put all of your eggs in one basket.
- Greater ROI
Calculating return on investment can be tricky considering all of the moving parts that go into executing an event. With hybrid events, you have solid data to show an increased ROI (reach, scalability, engagement). The great part about introducing a virtual element to your event is that once the technology is set up, the process is easy to replicate for future events. At the end of the day, there’s not much to lose by reaching both live and online audiences.
The Future of Event Planning
If we have learned anything throughout this experience, it’s to always be prepared – for event planners, this means incorporating hybrid events into your overall event strategy for the foreseeable future, and perhaps beyond. While in-person events will always be in high demand, we have to adapt to our current circumstances and hybrid events allow us to do just that.
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