1. Convincing managers to give hybrid a shot
Company executives are already familiar with traditional in-person events, including weighing its costs against its benefits.
For instance, large corporate events typically cost more to organize than the sponsorship revenue they bring in. Nevertheless, they persist because traditional events instantly generate leads, sales, and partnerships and bring benefits in brand value, thought-leadership, PR, and customer loyalty.
Because of the pandemic, a lot of organizations have also had to dip their toes in going entirely virtual or adding a virtual experience for their in-person events. Some have found resounding success, while others may still be assessing.
Now that restrictions are slowly being lifted, marketers and event planners who found or witnessed success in hybrid events face the challenge of convincing their managers or clients to try or embrace it permanently.
However, some managers may want to revert back to holding entirely physical events, while others would prefer to stick entirely to online events now that they’ve seen it’s doable.
To help you advocate for hybrid events, a report published just this year presents the economic benefits of shifting from in-person events to hybrid events. Here are some key findings you can bring to clients or company executives:
- Attendance can increase by 5–10x per event.
- While the average ticket price could decrease by 30–50%, the higher attendance can increase event revenue by 10x.
- Overall event costs can be reduced by up to 70%. This includes:
- 50–75% savings for facilities, food, and beverage
- 50% or more savings for staff labor and travel expenses
- 50% savings for on-site registration
- 25–50% savings for speakers who present virtually
- Sponsor expenses can also drop by as much as 70% but audience reach can increase by as much as 10x.
2. Creating and communicating value for in-person attendees now that they can opt to attend online
Now that you’ve convinced your managers to stage a hybrid event, it’s also important to convince a segment of your target attendees to participate in-person. After all, they can very well attend virtually.
The challenge here is creating value for in-person attendees — and communicating that to boost in-person registration or ticket sales.
Here are some tips and tricks to encourage on-site attendance.
- Clearly communicate the event’s health and safety protocols.
- Include the city as part of the event experience. Hold some side events outside of the main venue. Integrate cultural experiences. In inviting attendees from out of town, highlight city landmarks and things they can do outside of the event.
- Invite celebrities, public figures, and key company executives to attend and be part of the in-person program.
- Give out goody bags or company swag.
- Create tactile or hands-on experiences for in-person attendees. For example, ask your exhibitors to allow participants to be able to physically interact with their products and displays.
Don’t forget to not only create these experiences but also communicate these beforehand in your promotions and marketing campaigns.
3. Integrating the on-site and online experience
Your in-person attendees know that there are virtual participants and vice-versa. To truly fulfil the potential of hybrid events, it’s important to keep them all engaged with each other as if they were in the same venue. The pitfall to avoid here is keeping the on-site and online experiences isolated from each other.
Here are some ideas that hybrid event organizers have tried in integrating the on-site and online experience.
- Don’t just livestream the talks and presentations. Include your virtual audience in the Q&As and discussions. Integrate both audiences in the breakout sessions.
- Be mindful of the varying time zones of your remote participants. If possible, adapt or adjust your program to what’s appropriate for your online audience with the help of your registration analytics.
- Have a hybrid event platform that will be the single point of interface for both your in-person and online attendees. They can see the event agenda from there and customize their own program. Both audiences can also participate in the same polls, quizzes, and other online gimmicks you might want to introduce.
- Enable virtual rooms where participants, whether online or on-site, can interact with each other and hold their own meetings. Since in-person participants can easily network with each other, enable this experience to be available for virtual attendees as well.
The hybrid future is already here
According to research by EventMB, 62% of event organizers believe that the future of their industry is hybrid. When asked if they intend to keep their virtual audience once they resume live events, only 4% said ‘no’, 34% said ‘not sure’, and an overwhelming majority of 62% said ‘yes’.
The value of hybrid events, as opposed to doing either an exclusively in-person or virtual event, is already apparent to event professionals. There are several successful events that you can take inspiration from.
As illustrated, you can already argue to your managers or clients of its business propositions, particularly increased attendance, decreased costs, and increased sponsorship value.
With more and more marketers and brands holding hybrid events and experimenting on creative formats, the expectations of event participants will also evolve and likely become more sophisticated.
The hybrid future is already here. Don’t get left behind.
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