As exciting as the possibility of an in-person conference is, it remains unclear as to how they will be hosted moving forward.
The future of in-person events
Cyberspace has allowed us to stay connected throughout these unprecedented times and has enabled us to create new virtual connections. However, we can’t remain online forever. Despite spending the past year and a half adjusting to online events, live events will always be integral to any industry.
In-person events open up a number of opportunities from new business opportunities to strengthening client relationships and the potential to collaborate with industry peers.
For live events to go ahead, they must be managed appropriately and efficiently. This includes smart social distancing, intelligent catering (unfortunately no more large buffets), and curated networking.
Therefore, what can the events industry do to balance the success of virtual events and ensure people’s safety and comfort at in-person events? We believe offering a dual experience is key to getting the industry back on its feet and boost industry engagement.
So what is a hybrid event?
Hybrid events bridge the physical and online space, each complimenting the other. It’s a physical meeting where an online audience also participates, meaning they can choose whether to participate in person or from their office/home.
A hybrid event is not just a static recording. In a hybrid event, you introduce an interactive online component in conjunction with the physical element of the program. This offers the opportunity for events on different scales to reach a much larger and potentially global audience.
Hybrid events are an extremely useful solution for the times we are currently living in as attendees needn’t miss out if they can’t make it and the event can be flexible around any potential future restrictions.
By shifting to a dual experience, hosts can take a customer-first approach by allowing attendees to choose how they want to engage. Events can be inaccessible to many people, whether it’s the travel or general cost, therefore offering a flexible solution could open up events to a wider pool of attendees.
Hybrid events also open up the possibility of long-term content engagement. By recording talks and presentations, attendees can access the entire event and revisit the content days or even weeks after it’s over.
3 hybrid event essentials
As event planning gets underway, here are the top three essentials for running a successful hybrid event:
1. Create an accessible experience for all
Whether you’re attending an event in-person or online it’s important to feel like you’re not missing out. The experience must cater to everyone’s needs, a hybrid event isn’t two different events, but one event with two different experiences.
2. Provide regular breaks
Everyone needs a break and that doesn’t differ if you’re sitting in a conference hall or your living room. Offering regular breaks for both groups of attendees will enable them to take a breather, squeeze in some work, start conversations and keep them actively engaged when they’re back in the room.
3. Engagement opportunities for attendees
Adding a virtual element to your event can open up lots more engagement opportunities both during and post-event that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. Having speakers host Q&As with their live and virtual audience enables inclusivity and dedicated meeting areas for in-person meetings and virtual meetings can encourage networking. This will connect a much larger pool of peers and open up countless business opportunities. In order for this to be a success, events must understand the audience’s journey and cater for each step of the way.
Virtual and hybrid events are integral to how the events industry can rebuild itself as the world begins to open up and technology continues to improve and it’s likely we’ll see further integration of technology like VR, AR, and AI within the industry as events move into the future.