Is it time to step into the era of Hybrid Events?
16th November 2021
Hybrid events are the future
According to Forbes, there was a 1000% increase in virtual events in the year 2020. It led to the drastic changes seen in the industry and the way of work and interaction with others.
Despite a significant COVID-19 blow, the world is now adapting a theory of “new normal”. With unique manners and approaches to the changes in the industry, event managers had to alter as well. This created an opportunity to re-evaluate the infrastructure of the industry and integrate live events into a virtual events space.
As of now, we welcome the unlock phase. Events might return to their traditional face-to-face design, because of easing restrictions and new perception to the Covid-19 situation around the globe. However, it is likely that virtual events will still be a concept. If not completely on its own at least as part of the Hybrid Events experience.
What does it mean to be hybrid?
In its simplest form, hybrid is the mix of in-person and virtual components. In the events industry, these two elements are used to tailor and design personalised events and provide optimal and equal experience for each audience .
This Post-Covid concept of hybrid events with new adjustments and innovations far beyond usual online streaming is likely to shape the future of the event industry.
“The idea of hybrid is something everyone should be aware of right now because it is the future and what we are moving into as a new model.”— Hopin (@Hopin) November 10, 2021
GitLab Director of Corporate Events, Karen Hartline, on #hybridevents live from the Hopin micro-theater at #IMEX21.💡 pic.twitter.com/n5pNdEMuMK
Why hybrid events?
Events industry and many other companies have suffered during lockdown due to majority if not all face-to-face events being cancelled. Therefore, hybrid events could be seen as the alternative for event managers and industry leaders during these unprecedented times, because hybrid events provide benefits that people do not even realise:
- The flexibility for the participants, as they do not necessarily need to travel, resulting in higher engagement levels and reduced expenses.
- Cost-efficiency and easier way to attract corporate sponsors and build relationships with other companies.
- Sustainable alternative that would reduce the carbon footprint, limiting greenhouse gas emissions through travel.
Concerns around hybrid events
Although hybrid events became an enthusiastically used tool over the past 12 months, which offers endless possibilities, there are still some concerns, risks and complexity that come alongside:
- Negative effect of long screen time on people’s health and wellbeing.
- Shift of production methods. Special focus towards new technological standards.
- Additional equipment and employee training and upskilling costs.
- Utilizing digital creativity skills to produce engaging content to a virtual and physical audience.
Existing gap between audience experiences
71% of the event planners still believe that the biggest challenge is connecting the in-person and virtual participants (Wolff, 2021). It is difficult to manage two audiences at once and ensure that some sort of interaction between them exists.
Atmosphere of the event can also be a concern. It is something that virtual attendees might find hard to enjoy or ‘feel’. More than 70% of individuals prefer to attend in person opposed to virtual which is due to “affiliative social engagement” need (Groskop, 2021).
Individuals who attend live events have better chances for emotional engagement and excitement. It is something hard if not impossible to replicate virtually. Important social element of the events might be taken away, as people need to be in the same room to experience the same thing.
While keeping all previously mentioned aspects in mind, it can be seen that it is still complicated to organise a ‘good’ hybrid event, which would create equal experiences in-person and behind the screen. As a result, some event organisers try to avoid facilitating hybrid events as they often just do not work effectively. In order to ensure the effectiveness of hybrid event model, it is necessary to rethink how to bridge this pre-existing gap and blend virtual and live experiences into one cohesive event.
Expectations for the new hybrid events model
Advancements in the technology creates new possibilities for event organisers. With a plethora of opportunities out there, event coordinators can not only generate revenue but also increase people’s engagement levels. Best way to do that is by incorporating various techniques and tools into the event strategy.
Diverse ways of functioning with each other and the audience can drastically booster the quality and perception of your hybrid event.
Aggregation tools create an opportunity to connect with audience in more ways between different networks. Cross-platforms such as Walls.io creates a social media wall, which allows to collect necessary data by hashtags, keywords, or specific profiles. It helps event managers to tailor the experience for virtual audiences.
Hybrid event app
Such an app would limit the number of multiple systems used during the event. With a few steps the hybrid app will help in planning, registration, live event production, produce analytics, and provide customer support. What could be better than accessing all of these features in one place?
Gamification and Extended Reality (XR) to connect audiences
Gamification strategically uses game elements to enhance digital experiences, through motivating and encouraging individuals to engage, compete or participate in various activities. In hybrid events, integration of game elements helps to increase attendee engagement, modify participant behaviour, and allows to interact with virtual participants.
Extended Reality (XR) uses wearable technology that combines real-and-virtual environments and change our perception of reality and surroundings. Integrating Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) concepts as part of the hybrid event would allow people to engage in the same way as ones interacting in-person, improving the quality of experience for those attending virtually.
What are your thoughts on how hybrid events will look like in the future?
Will the gap between live and virtual still exist?
Or is it not yet time to step into the era of Hybrid Events?
Please comment down below, we would love to hear your thoughts.