Hybrid events are fast becoming the future of the event management industry. With COVID-19 nearly crippling the industry entirely, events companies have had to pivot 360 degrees in order to stay afloat.

Online gatherings have now become common place and have resulted in major developments in virtual technology. However, with the reopening of the events industry, albeit still under social distancing restrictions, hybrid events are quickly becoming the go-to for event planners and have shown promising results in growing the industry to new heights.

Hybrid events are the perfect bridge between live and online gatherings. They are events such as conferences, seminars, tradeshows, workshops or meetings that combine live in-person events with virtual online components. Many event organisers and companies have said that even with the re-opening of the event industry, they still won’t do away with their online spaces, making strictly live gatherings a thing of the past and hybrid events the new way forward.

Hybrid Events are the Future

COVID-19 has changed the way people interact with each other and has most likely altered the way people gather indefinitely. Hybrid events provide a space, both in-person and online, where the safety of attendees is seriously considered and ensured. Event’s organisers are giving people a choice by making events widely accessible by utilizing event apps that serve as a road-map and database for all attendees of the event — live and virtual. Whether you are a high-risk individual and socially distancing, or someone who is comfortable going to regulated gatherings, you have access to all of the same information and experience.

A study shown in The Event Manager Blog’s Hybrid Event Resolution Report states that out of a pool of 1200 event planners, two-thirds will remain committed to keeping their virtual components despite the easing of restrictions, post-lockdown, while the remaining third are largely open to it. Hybrid events are clearly here to stay will result in the event industry becoming widely accessible, cost-effective and more sustainable.

The Benefits of Hybrid Events

Hybrid events are proving to be more beneficial than in-person gatherings in many areas, including engagement, increased ROI, reach and most importantly, accessibility.

1. Increased Reach and Scalability
Hybrid events will increase your reach and help you gain more attendees. In-person gatherings have a limited number of tickets available but transitioning to a hybrid space allows you to increase the amount of people who have access to your event in unlimited amounts. Online access will also boost your in-person audience. People will be able to sample an online event and from their experience, book an in-person ticket for the next one.

2. Higher Engagement with Audience
Virtual interaction opens up a myriad of engagement opportunities that will allow your audience to actively participate from their mobile devices. Live surveys, Q&As and Polls will keep your online audience fully engaged while also providing valuable information for the speakers and the event organisers.

3. Reduced Carbon Footprint with Sustainable Practices
World-wide travel restrictions due to COVID-19 resulted in marked changes in CO2 emissions. Hybrid events allow guests, who may still be unable to travel, to still attend the event, and by offering the event to a larger, oftentimes global network, they are reducing their collective carbon footprint. Event apps also drastically reduce the amount of waste by making all documents, flyers and brochures digitally available.

4. Improved Return on Investment (ROI)
Due to their increased reach and scalability, hybrid events offer an improved ROI for both the event organizer and sponsors. More attendance means sponsors have increased exposure and sign-ups after the event. With COVID-19 and the shift to a predominantly online world, sponsors are needing to justify their allocation of funds into online advertising and hybrid events are proving to show the numbers.

5. Content Creation
Live events hosted online produce tons of sharable content in the form of live streams, videos, photos and reviews. Businesses can reuse this content within their marketing strategy throughout the year. One hybrid event can feed a marketing plan for months.

How to plan for a hybrid event

Planning a hybrid event takes time and consideration, but the hard work will be worth it when you pull off a successful event that both in-person and online attendees will hugely benefit from. Here are 5 guidelines to follow when planning your hybrid event:

• Focus on your team
An experienced team of event planners and promoters will make sure all bases are covered when planning and executing your event. Hybrid events require a range of expertise from people experienced in both online and in-person event planning. Make sure your team knows what they are doing and what is required of them.

• Be prepared & rehearse
All event information, documents, presentations and slides need to be pre-loaded onto the online streaming portal before the event and checked to see if all are working properly. All camera angles and positions need to be blocked and well-rehearsed with speakers and facilitators to make sure the in-person and online event are fully synced and operating.

• Have strong facilitators
A strong, well-briefed facilitator is essential for the seamless execution of your hybrid event. A facilitator is the key link between the live attendees and the virtual delegates and needs to make sure both audiences are acknowledged and frequently tended to.

• Think about the online perspective
Make sure you are constantly acknowledging your online audience and thinking about how to make their experience better. Brief your speakers and facilitators to make eye contact with the camera regularly. Allocate a bit more time for Q&A and feedback sessions, so that your online audience can respond via social media or feedback channels and be part of the conversation.

• Use social media
Make use of social media channels, especially Twitter, to encourage your attendees to connect with each other and facilitate feedback and conversations. Social media also archives any key conversations, and this is a great resource to go back to when doing research for future events.

Hybrid events are the way forward. They ensure maximum reach with your audience while ensuring you are maintaining safety protocols in line with social distancing rules. Although live events offer amazing networking benefits and in-person communication, hybrid events are the best of both platforms and offer even more benefits for audience engagement and scalability.

Contact Flock Events Platform to start planning your hybrid event today.

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