What is a hybrid event? And how will this relatively new phenomenon permanently transform the event industry?
2020 has undoubtedly revolutionized the modern world as we know it. No industry has been more seriously impacted than the live event industry. Social distance parameters have been put in place around the globe, and there seems to be no definitive date when live events will officially restart. With the yearning for new content and entertainment, virtual events continue to see steady growth. With the live event industry on hold, it’s important to keep an eye out for a new emerging format, hybrid events.
Well, first you might be wondering what defines a hybrid event. A hybrid event is categorized as a meeting, event, conference, or trade show that combines elements of an in-person event with an online or digital experience. The virtual component can vary widely from a Zoom chat to a livestream. Given that this is an entirely new phenomenon, there are no written rules about what a hybrid event should look like. Your imagination is the only limit.
One reason hybrid events work well is that they limit the number of live event attendees. This is highly beneficial provided the current government ordained social distance parameters. Even after all the restraints have been lifted, there will likely be a reluctance of people to want to gather for some time to come. Hybrid events may represent an active step towards event organizers going back to holding live events.
Hybrid events carry a unique set of pros and cons. Much like virtual events, hybrid events benefit from scalability, their ability to access insights and analytics and collect data, cost-effectiveness, global reach, and Return on Investment (ROI). For a relatively low price you can both put on a boutique live event with a highly exclusive VIP audience and also benefit from many of the same advantages as virtual events. Hybrid events also offer a means to increase sponsorship value by providing double exposure. Hosting part of the event in a digital environment generates new opportunities for both brand visibility and lead generation.
The most challenging part of hybrid events is creating content that works for both live and virtual event formats. In order to increase the efficacy and deliverability of your hybrid event, you might also need to create additional content for your online audience. Another consideration to make is will additional moderators be needed to moderate and facilitate a discussion with an online audience?
With the current global pandemic, until conditions around the world improve, event organizers will also need to create a strong enough need to host a live event. In addition, various safety precautions will need to be set in place to ensure that their venue can accommodate for social distancing. Depending upon the circumstances, these health and safety resources could be costly.
Whatever the next six months to year holds for the global event industry, expect to see an ever growing number of hybrid events pop up. It’ll be interesting to watch how hybrid events gain traction and change the event industry.