Hosting Hybrid Events: Is It A Good Idea?
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The on-going pandemic has changed the way business is done. This is all too evident in the way organizations plan and host professional events using technology that is readily available to us.
The last year was occupied with apprehension about the future of workshops, conferences, seminars, etc., as social distancing rules put a stop to it all. But thankfully, organizers quickly found a way to fulfill the evolving need for these and similar events among audiences.
A professional survey revealed that about 73 percent of the businesses plan to conduct hybrid events. And there are several very good reasons for that.
Sure, the live experience can’t be replaced, but using hybrid elements can help your audiences be a part of the proceedings remotely and fully. Besides, this way, you can be confident that nothing derails your event ever again.
What Are Hybrid Events?
A hybrid event happens in a physical venue with in-person attendees but is also available to an interactive audience online. It is open to live as well as virtual audiences.
But before you start preparing for one, know that for an event to be genuinely hybrid, it must be hosted in the real world as well as the virtual world. You can’t just stream on Facebook Live or start a Webinar and call it hybrid.
It involved creating an experience that is just as rewarding and fulfilling for your online participants as it is for live audiences. This means that both get to interact with speakers, engage with each other and participate in workshops and Q&A sessions.
Of course, this means that you’ll need technical expertise in addition to mics, cameras, good Wi-Fi, and trained staff to work it all.
That said, here are some of the pros and cons of hybrid events.
Pros Of Hybrid Events
The primary reason for the success of hybrid events is the widely available high-speed internet. Add to that the fact that pretty much everyone has a smartphone, tablet, or laptop that lets them connect, and you’ve got a good reason to go hybrid and increase event attendance.
Then there are the obvious and important health implications for those who want to rub shoulders (virtually) with others in the industry while also staying in quarantine.
And that’s just the start.
Here are some good reasons for hosting a hybrid event:
Attract More Attention (And Attendees)
The most apparent advantage of hybrid events is that it accommodates and reaches a relatively more number of attendees as these events take on both the in-person and online approaches. This means that you can connect with people individually attending the event as well as with those who are there virtually.
While some people prefer an in-person event, others want to be present virtually because it is more convenient. With hybrid events, you can provide the attendees with both the options, allowing people to join in from a broader spectrum and from different time zones.
A survey conducted revealed that 46% of people most want a live event that lets the audience questions, whereas 40% of the respondents prefer an online session to be available on-demand later.
Find More Sponsors
Since hybrid events tend to have a wider reach as they have both offline and online attendees, this makes it easy to entice more sponsors. Moreover, sponsorships also drive targeted communities, positive publicity, and adds value to your event.
Better Organization And Management
Hybrid events allow you to include all the aspects in an organized manner of your event without fretting about overcrowding. For instance, conferences and trade shows can be easily held with fewer attendees in person and more people joining online, which reduces congestion.
That way, you can provide attendees in both settings a seamless experience without them missing on the major happenings in the event.
A Unique Experience For Everyone
You can make your hybrid events eye-catching and unique in multiple ways. Leverage technology and incorporate in your live streaming of mixed events and conduct several seminars for different audiences at the same time.
Moreover, it also allows attendees to switch between different sessions if they want to at the moment. Doing so makes it possible for both your online and offline audience to become a part of multiple presentations while providing a great experience to all participants.
This is a useful option for venues that have limited space, keeps the event space safe and crowd-free, and enjoy a holistic event experience.
Better Opportunities For Communication
With virtual and in-person attendance, it is easier to collect the data for promotions and marketing purposes. Gather data about the attendees, like when they join the event and when they are most active. This way, you can know what interests your guests and grabs their attention.
Furthermore, you can also collect the audience’s feedback, and it can ultimately help you improve your future events. Understanding guest’s preferences, pain points, and needs enhance your marketing potential and efforts.
Cons Of Hybrid Events
While countless businesses have created incredible experiences for their audiences using the hybrid concept, it hasn’t been easy for many others.
Here are some common problems that plague hybrid events:
The primary concern that can arise when conducting hybrid events is the uncertain connection issues. This can result in virtual participants not being able to get the complete experience, which can demotivate the people connecting online as it would disrupt their experience considerably.
Naturally, nothing is more frustrating than having connection lags when you are attending a hybrid event virtually. This can put off those on the receiving end, and they might avoid joining in the session.
67% of event organizers state that technology to ensure a smooth experience is a challenge or concern.
Coordination, Set-Up, And Engagement Issues
If you are organizing and managing a hybrid event all alone, you are possibly going to stumble over several challenges. Apart from the planning, effort, time, and resources to set up either a live or online event, directing hybrid events adds an entirely new dimension.
You need to consider the customer experience for people in both settings and decide how you can provide them a wholesome experience. Furthermore, the technical and physical aspects of an event to conduct the event properly and run it smoothly, this organization can be challenging and intricate.
It is more challenging to manage virtual experiences for the participants who join the meeting from different locations across the globe.
So, you need to focus on the requirements and demands of individual types of attendees. It is also imperative to think of driving engagement and connection with both of them, which is the biggest challenge (6) for event organizers.
Because of this, most marketers (63%) want to resume face to face conferences in 2021.
Moreover, the organizers also have to pay for an appropriate online platform, get live-streaming equipment, and enable practical discussions for online-and-offline engagement.
Hybrid events are a win-win situation. They offer all the advantages of an online event while allowing attendees to have face-to-face interactions with the guests and deliver an exceptional event experience.
It’s a unique experience that can be incredibly valuable and rewarding if managed the right way. Set expectations and follow through with them to make your event a success. You can deliver quality content. However, the audience’s involvement is something that is beyond your control.
While some guests may be attending between drafting and reading emails, others may be exchanging their experience virtually with other coworkers. There are many possibilities, but it is imperative to comprehend that it is a different experience for each individual at the end of the day.
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