Why Hybrid Events Will Be The New Standard
Hybrid events may have become a more popular topic of discussion over the last year and a half due to the pandemic. They’ve been gaining traction long before covid, and won’t be disappearing anytime soon. 66.5% of event professionals predict that hybrid event strategies will be their most used format in a post-Covid world.
Larger companies are already onboard with the hybrid movement with 71% of organizations with 5000+ employees including hybrid events in their event marketing portfolios.
The World Is Already Hybrid
Almost every aspect of our lives already has a virtual component. Before going to a restaurant for in-person dining, you likely go online and take a look at the menu and reviews first. Before visiting a new city, you likely conduct some online research and maybe even ask for recommendations from locals on social media or online forums.
We’re always digitally pre-gaming for our activities. So why not do the same for events?
Hybrid events allow attendees to get acquainted with the speakers, sponsors, and other attendees well before the event actually starts. They can start networking, learning, and planning from home to curate exciting personalized event experiences.
They can even take advantage of some interactive pre-event features to help them find what they’re likely to be interested in. Social27 Virtual Event Platform offers a Recommendation & Prediction Engine to direct attendees to virtual sponsor booths, session sign-ups, pre-event content, and recommended attendee connections based on their selected interests. This feature allows attendees to vet speakers and sponsors beforehand, so they can show up to sessions or product demos ready to dive in and ask questions.
Greater Reach, Less Barriers
The hybrid event model removes geographic, financial, and accessibility barriers to allow more people to participate in your event, while still providing an in-person experience for those that want it.
Hybrid events let you expand your reach beyond your local market. This is more important than ever due to the growth in remote work, e-commerce, and tech-based services. Your target customers or audiences are most likely spread out throughout the country (or maybe the world!) now, so choosing one location to host events in can be tricky. Hybrid events let you target those a little further away, while still providing an immersive onsite experience for local consumers.
Focus on Accessibility
Everyone should be striving to make their events accessible to everyone that wants to attend.
In 2020, a lot of important conversations came to the forefront of society and the business world. One of those was around the importance of making spaces accessible to people with disabilities.
You should be making sure that your event spaces are accessible and easy to navigate for people with disabilities, including those who utilize mobility aids, service animals, and those who may be deaf, hard of hearing, or blind. Hybrid events offer a way for event organizers to provide even greater accessibility by eliminating the need to travel, providing an option for those who may experience fatigue or overstimulation by attending live events, and making use of live captioning and tech-assisted accessibility features.
Hybrid options also make events more accessible for working parents, those caring for sick or elderly family members, and others with obligations that would otherwise limit travel and event attendance.
Event Attendees Want Options
Today’s event audiences expect more. They want options when it comes to attending events, viewing content, and connecting with others.
A survey by Qualtrics found that as of May 2021, 59% of survey respondents prefer to attend virtual events, but that number drops slightly when asked about 2022. 41% would still prefer to attend a virtual event over an in-person in 2022. That’s still a significant chunk of your potential audience that prefers to have a virtual-only experience. The best way to accommodate both sides is to host a hybrid event.
Enhanced Data Analytics
When you put on an in-person event, you’ll be able to get a rough estimate of your headcount based on ticket sales and session attendance. However, you won’t know how many connections were made, how many attendees visited each sponsor booth, or other key data points.
Hybrid events are rich sources of highly useful data.
Event organizers can view every digital interaction – from how many people clicked on an event page to how long they viewed a live session or video. This data is helpful for a number of reasons including:
- Providing insights to help improve future events
- Helping organizers demonstrate ROI to partners, sponsors, speakers, and their own organization’s leadership
- Aiding in post-event follow up efforts for the event organizers, speakers, and sponsors
- Providing real-time data to speakers and sponsors to facilitate more effective interactions and content
Now that many organizers have already experienced these benefits, it’s natural that they would prefer to continue including a virtual component in their events, rather than returning to a fully in-person experience.
More Meaningful Networking
In-person networking is still preferable for many people, while it can be anxiety-inducing to others. Regardless of your preference, it’s still safe to say that adding a virtual component enhances the networking opportunities and deepens the connections made. After all, many of our social relationships and professional connections start or grow over social media sites like Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Virtual networking helps people connect with other like-minded attendees to plan meetups at the in-person portion of an event, rather than relying on somehow running into the right people around the event center. It also makes it easier to stay connected after the event.
59% of event marketers predict events with a virtual element will be planned with the intention of building a community and creating a space for the audience to share their ideas and interact with one another.
More Opportunities For Speakers and Sponsors
It’s not just the viewers and organizers that benefit from the move towards hybrid events. Sponsors and speakers greatly benefit from the expanded reach, goldmine of data, and enhanced opportunities to connect with attendees.
Speakers can leverage pre-event content to provide introductory information on themselves and the material they plan to cover. This helps attract more viewers for their sessions, and lets them optimize their session time to focus on higher-level topics and leave time to answer questions.
Sponsors also benefit greatly from the pre-event exposure. Interested buyers can view sponsored content, research the sponsor’s products or services, and set up meetings or demos in advance. By the time they actually meet with the sponsor, they’re already further along in their buying journey and have confirmed interest in the product. This is preferable to the classic approach of having to flag down passing attendees to pull them over to your booth for a cold pitch!
Sponsors can also benefit from the post-event virtual component of hybrid events. They can review check-ins to their virtual booth and access contact information for visitors that expressed interest in their products. They can also leave their content viewable after the event to reach attendees that didn’t get a chance to view it or who want to revisit the content (or show it to other decision-makers in their company!)
If you need help understanding what goes into sponsoring a hybrid event, we’ve compiled a guide for you.
Decreasing the travel needed to attend events has several benefits. As discussed above, it removes barriers to attendance and increases the reach of events.
It can also make it easier to book great speakers due to the lowered time commitment. Speakers that are in high demand may not have time to fly out for your conference, but they can likely find time to host a virtual session or pre-record event content for your hybrid event.
Reducing travel is also better for the environment. In a survey conducted by American Express on the future of event travel, 79% of respondents noted that their organization emphasizes sustainability in meetings and events. Cutting down on unnecessary air and ground travel is a great way to promote sustainability and environmental awareness within your organization and in your events. Local attendees can likely find more environmentally-friendly transportation to your event such as buses, trains, or even their bikes! But those options aren’t necessarily available or practical for those wanting to attend from further away. Hybrid events give attendees the option to cut down their carbon footprint by ditching the flights and attending from home.
Join the Future of Hybrid Events
One of the largest concerns that event organizers have in the move to virtual events is finding the right technology to provide a seamless event experience. Don’t worry, we can help!
Social27 Virtual Event Platform has all of the tools you need to catapult into the new age of events. With all of the tools needed to provide an optimal hybrid event experience for attendees, organizers, speakers, and sponsors, Social27 Virtual Event Platform is ready to help you tackle all of your hybrid event challenges.