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Why Hybrid Events Are The Way Of The Future, And How To Create A Successful One

  • Madison Vettorino

In the last year and a half, the COVID-19 pandemic has infiltrated nearly every facet of life. Events were no outlier. In the United States, when the initial outbreak occurred in March/April 2020, a significant portion of the country went into quarantine or began sheltering in place. This resulted in shuttered businesses, events postponed for the foreseeable future, and social distancing measures. 

Thanks to the release of Covid-19 vaccinations, live events were expected to slowly begin filling up our calendars again. Then,  the Delta variant hit. In an unanticipated turn, the feasibility of live events was in question again. 

Despite the fact that vaccinations are increasingly available, virtual events (which rose in popularity as a result of the pandemic) proved that they have their merits. Not only are they safe, they’re also cost-effective.  In a post-pandemic world where social distancing and mask mandates are no longer the norm, entirely virtual events might not uphold their popularity–but hybrid events certainly will

What Is A Hybrid Event?

Think of a hybrid event as the best of both worlds. It offers the rich, engaging experiences of an in-person event with the cost effectiveness, reach, and convenience of a virtual event. This is likely the new standard for several reasons.

Did you know that nearly 50% of people attending corporate events consider hybrid to be the ideal event format in the future, when being compared to solely virtual or in-person? The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) reaffirmed these findings. When GBTA surveyed organizers regarding how they are planning on managing their meetings in the year ahead, three-out-of-five respondents said that they are expecting to hold at least one hybrid meeting during this year.

 A massive 65% stated that they are interested in having an increased number of hybrid events–as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This demonstrated a tremendous shift; 71% indicated that before the pandemic, hybrid events were not included in their program in any capacity.

Businesses are paying attention and planning accordingly; in 2021, 58% of businesses said that they are planning to have a mixture of virtual and in-person events. Of course, hybrid events require consideration that solely in-person or solely virtual wouldn’t. 

What Are The Benefits Of Hybrid Events, And Why Are They The Way Of The Future? 

Hybrid events offer many benefits. . In today’s quickly evolving health climate, consumers have varying comfort levels in regards to being with others in a group setting and hybrid events offer opportunities to those attending in-person or remotely.

This also allows an event to be open to individuals in various geographical areas, not just limited to those who live in the vicinity of the in-person event or are financially able to purchase any required transportation and accommodations necessary to attend. Another reason why hybrid events are more inclusive is because they offer the opportunity to remove a language barrier. There are several platforms that brands can utilize to provide translations, such as Interprefy, Wordly, and KUDO. Providing attendees with this option makes the event more inclusive and expands its reach. 

Of course, hybrid events are not exempt from their challenges. For one, having a hybrid event means that marketers have to pay attention to managing different platforms and technologies that enable such. Working with an experienced management company, such as Inspira, can help eliminate this concern. 

There’s also the challenge to create an equally inclusive, engaging, and memorable event experience regardless if an attendee is in-person or virtual. This can be achieved by incorporating hybrid event best practices into the planning. Again, partnering with an experiential marketing agency with a robust understanding of brand experience in person and virtually will help. 

Key Takeaways 

Both in-person and virtual events have their merits, and that’s why the future of brand experience will be hybrid-centric. In-person provides attendees with the opportunity to make a tangible connection, but the flexibility of remote attendance makes an event more inclusive. 

Brands should be looking to hone in on interaction and engagement for all of their attendees, regardless if they’re in-person or virtual. Doing this will make your future experiential events more successful than ever before. 

Inspira’s Chief Inspiration Officer Jeff Snyder recently shared three experiential marketing techniques that will be embraced in 2021 and beyond. These include the utilization of virtual brand ambassadors as intermediaries in a hybrid event setting, crafting drive-in or drive-thru experiences, and using cutting-edge technology to facilitate the virtual attendee experience and supplement the in-person one. 

When you are creating the plan for your event, there are several key components that must be kept in mind. First, its purpose. What is the purpose of this event, and who is the target audience? When you are crafting the event, referring back to these answers can prove helpful. 

For the virtual component, it is also necessary to consider which virtual platform would be best. Each platform has its own idiosyncrasies, strengths, weaknesses. Select a platform with strengths that are compatible for your event. 

Because you want the event to be more than a simple virtual conference call for remote attendees, it’s essential to build your show for success. This means planning, crafting timelines, using deliverables, and rehearsing to ensure the entirety of the event runs smoothly. 

Hosting a successful, inclusive hybrid event is achievable with a healthy dose of determination and the expertise of a marketing agency that knows how to create scalable, memorable hybrid events. If your brand is looking to create an engaging hybrid event, contact us to learn more about our expertise crafting unforgettable brand experiences. 

 

SOURCES: 

Timing of State and Territorial COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Orders | CDC 

Delta variant cancels big events, just as the events industry was preparing for a comeback | Fortune 

Addressing the Biggest Challenges of Hosting Hybrid Events | Harvard Business Review 

Hybrid Events: The New Normal? | BizBash  

Hybrid Events Expected to Double in 2021 | PCMA 

5 Steps for Producing an Inclusive Hybrid Event | BizBash