The coronavirus pandemic is begetting a serious knock-on influence on almost every perspective of our lives. The crippling effect of this pandemic on the events sector, which is indeed among the first ones to be affected by the pandemic worldwide, has suffered an estimated loss of USD 1 trillion and is still counting. Nevertheless, the pandemic has clearly given us an indication that those event professionals who use digital methods to enhance event experience will receive a bigger return from their events. With event hosts bringing attendees both physically and virtually, it is quite evident that hybrid events have already and will be a future trend.
Previously, Allied Market Research predicted the global events industry, valued at $1.1 trillion in 2018, would grow to $2.3 trillion by 2026. The COVID-19 pandemic is anticipated to hamper this forecasted 10% year on year growth in the events industry and in response to this, the events sector must transition towards alternative mediums to conduct events safely and mitigate the long-term effects of economic disruption caused by the covid-19 outbreak.
Predictions from Grand View Research suggest that virtual events will increase approximately ten-fold over the next decade from $78 billion to $774 billion. The conferences & exhibitions, corporate events & seminars, music & art events as well as sports events, will rely mainly on virtual event planners and software. While video conferencing applications like Zoom and Microsoft Teams have certainly come out as winners during this mayhem but both lack full-service virtual experience and platform management. We need a new model for virtual event services that are designed to meet the needs of hybrid and virtual events as they evolve and change throughout the next several years.
What is a Hybrid Event?
A hybrid event is a type of event that combines in-person elements with digital online components. The virtual element usually includes live streaming or web-based participation for people who can’t attend the event itself. Hybrid Events are the blend of the right technology, to sync the content and engagement features so that both live and online attendees can have a similar experience.
Hybrid events are worthy
Hybrid events have increased in popularity over the recent years or so as they allow event organisers to reach a larger audience, improve event ROI, reduce cost, increase sponsorship value, enhance content engagement and give companies access to valuable data points.
Let’s take look at each of these:
- Reach a larger audience - One of the major benefits of virtual events is that there are fewer limits to the number of virtual attendees at a hybrid event. They offer the possibility of a much larger audience. Attendees aren't limited by logistical, financial, or health-related restrictions to travel and this advantage is going to play a major part in the viability of events even after social distancing protocols are over.
- Reusing of event content - Every virtual interaction can be tracked, recorded, and scrutinized. Which sessions generated the most discussions? Which questions were asked the most? What were the demographics of the audience? and What exactly does this tell you about your marketing possibilities?
All of this data will help you to streamline and refine your event marketing strategies. During a hybrid event, the data you gather will ensure that your event is continuously evolving and improving to keep pace with the desires of your target market. Plus, the virtual content can be recorded and reused, which will keep your event alive and active throughout the year.
- Enhance content engagement - The goal is to make the experience equally engrossing for both physical and virtual audience groups, one primary rule still rings true: content is the king. As you build the event experience, consider the following strategies to engage your audience by collecting feedback from attendees using Evaluations, Surveys, Polls, and Social media to plan your next event. Build a portfolio of evergreen content by creating Videos, Templates, Blog posts, Infographics, etc. Beyond borders, hybrid events provide the opportunity to associate with even more people with content as key and your brand.
- Limited physical capacities - Hybrid events are ideal for organisers who look for more prominent reach and immense flexibility. You no longer need to bother about the physical barrier in terms of the event scale and audience geography. Virtual element in a hybrid event provides an online platform in which all attendees connect in a virtual environment that completely breaks up the restrictions of physical space.
- Increase sponsorship value - Hybrid events also add worth to registration revenue and sponsor revenue. Your sponsors have the opportunity to multiply the exposure they had before. Hosting part of your event in a digital environment creates new possibilities for brand awareness and lead generation. By offering your sponsors more value, your event will pull more sponsorship dollars and even more sponsors.
The praising success of a few hybrid iterations of events like Webinar World, Apple Special Events, Agents of Change Digital Marketing Conference, and Public Health Informatics Conference boasted in the past is testimony that hybrid events work and so do virtual events. With all of the exciting keynote sessions and conferences, all these events have pretty much mastered the art of producing engaging experiences for everyone involved, whether they’re physically present or watching from home.
Given the constant increase of the hybrid event over the last decade, virtual events have been increasing in demand. The impact of Covid-19 has toiled as an impetus for hybrid events to take the centre frame as a potential lifeline during an extremely challenging period for the event industry. But now we are beginning to see the actual potential of hybrid events. Never before have there been so many possibilities to entertain, learn, and spread knowledge in such an appealing way. Many in the industry have gone as far as to say that hybridizing events will be part of the norm as we move forward.