Even before COVID-19 took us fully virtual, the events industry had started looking to the online world (our first online event was in 2015!). Today, however, it looks like the hybrid event format is here to stay, even now that the heights of the pandemic seem to have passed. The online event format is simply too powerful to be ignored. So, what next? How do we maximize the in-person and the online together? Simple – hybrid events.
Not only can hybrid events reach consumers in different time zones, but they are also less expensive, more engaging, and provide content that can be repackaged and used in a variety of marketing channels. Hosting a hybrid event is a breeze once you know how to plan and operate one. But why is it so important to host hybrid events? Why would they work for you? What makes them important? Let’s find out together! (And, if you already know you want/need a hybrid event but you are not sure how to make sure you’re doing it well, here’s a White Paper for you on how to maximize their potential – free and easily downloaded. You’re welcome!!)
Hybrid events are events that combine the online and physical event formats. Their purpose is to bring together virtual and in-person attendees into a single audience and have them participate in the same activities and discussions. A successful hybrid is one in which everyone enjoys the same incredible experience, regardless of how they attend.
There are two main types of hybrid events: external and internal. External events are frequently held for people outside of your company (such as clients, partners) and can be utilized for a variety of purposes, including conferences, product demonstrations in real time, exhibitions, and trade shows. Here, you’re hosting an event with unlimited global reach – no boundaries other than the ones you set. Internal hybrid events, on the other hand, are geared toward teams and stakeholders, and may comprise wide-ranging activities such as training, cooperative social gatherings, leadership summits and anything else that you can think of. Think of a remote team – with a hybrid platform, you’re able to bring together your office colleagues and remote colleagues under one digital roof in a seamlessly connected and interactive way. Now that we know what hybrid events are at their core, let’s discover the benefits.
Speakers can easily participate in your event from wherever they are located, just as audience members can attend from anywhere in the world. Think about it. No long-haul flights, no uncomfortable hotel beds – you’re paying for a 3 hour talk, not a 3 day stay. This saves you and your event attendees both time and money, while still allowing them to attend your event. Pretty efficient, huh? Exhibitors, too, can set up booths in the virtual exhibit hall if they are unable to present physically. They will not have to miss out on the experience because they are unable to take part in the in-person event. And, if they still want to attend in-person, they can!
In addition, because hybrid events are flexible, in-person and virtual events can take place at the same time or even in succession. As the organizer and host, you have the last say. You choose how the information will be made available, how you want the audience to interact, how you want exhibitors to engage, and how your guests may network with one another. All in one single multi-purpose event & networking platform. Hybrid events come in a variety of shapes and sizes, enabling you to find the best fit for your company.
Speaking of a networking platform, your online attendees can do several things to stay engaged with each other. Through ongoing breakout sessions, live Q&A sessions, voting in live polls, or simply talking to each other in 1-on-1 chats – endless possibilities. When they submit queries on Live Chat Walls, the moderator responds in real time. As a result, you may simultaneously engage both online and in-person audiences in live webinars. Put all your attendees in the same space, or split them up in online & in-person – with hybrid events, you can choose any option you need!
At myOnvent, we’ve taken our Networking capabilities to a new level with our ‘Smart Networking’ feature. As the Organizer, you create the questionnaire, attendees fill out and immediately get matched with people with similar interests, needs, backgrounds, or whatever else you decide. From there, they can schedule a meeting or simply initiate a conversation in person or a chat online.The best of the in-person event networking, from the comfort of your home.
By adding a virtual component to your in-person event, you’ll see a higher influx of participants from all around the world. Geographic location is no longer a barrier to participation. People who are comfortable attending the in-person event still participate on-site, while those who are unable to travel to the physical location or want to participate from their homes can still do so.
Moreover, some participants may experience financial hardship needing to travel to the in-person event site, so the hybrid model is the best alternative for them. They still get to access great talks and communities, regardless of their socio-economic status. If you, as the organizer, are responsible for covering the travel costs for the attendees, then hybrid events are again of significant consideration, as you can now limit the number of in-person participants and reassess your event budget without having to cut on event reach. The costs will diminish, while the audience size will remain the same (or, even more likely with hybrid events, the number of participants may even increase!).
Your sponsors too will profit from the additional reach that a hybrid event promises. They gain more brand exposure on not just one, but two platforms. This is a chance to provide visibility through both online and in-person with customizable tiered sponsorship packages. Sponsors can boost their potential reach and recognition by combining cross-media brand awareness with the opportunity to communicate with online and in-person attendees.
You can offer sponsors a number of approaches, such as showcasing their brand through in-person and virtual booths, promoting sponsor visuals in your online event halls, mentioning the sponsors during panels, presentations, and webinars, or even getting more creative by including sponsor-branded goodies/t-shirts/stickers in your event gift bag. Double the event platform = double the possibilities.
Many hours and dollars are spent creating and producing various flyers, brochures, and manuals for in-person events. And the majority of these is lost beneath a mountain of paperwork on the office desk (or ends up in the bins of the in-person venues…).
Online, all content is available at all times for viewing and downloading as needed. The resources can be saved on the devices of your attendees or in your event Archives, specifically designated for your organization. After the event, you can share this material via email to participants.Furthermore, what’s even more fantastic, live presentations too can easily be recorded and repurposed after the event is over.
Because of the enhanced reach and scalability of hybrid events, they provide a higher Return on Investment (ROI). More attendance, meaning more views for sponsors and more sign-ups. Exhibitors will see an increase in lead generation too!
All this information about attendance rates and participant count will be readily accessible in your event report generated by the myOnvent platform – featuring our newest Enhanced Booth Statistics feature! The online platform allows you to understand your audience’s habits and follow your participants’ digital footprints to obtain a better knowledge of your attendees. (Psst… It goes without saying how useful this will be when crafting your next event!) Speaking of footprints, it is also important to note that hybrid events are a great path to a cleaner and healthier environment. With fewer in-person participants, you reduce a huge amount of carbon emissions and food/paper & plastics waste, making hybrid events a perfect alternative not only just for you and your participant, but also for the environment.
That’s a lot of Why’s and How’s. Done well, hybrid events not only combine, but enhance the advantages of both live and online events, while leaving behind any potential disadvantages of each format. They are the best balance between social contact and geographic flexibility, quick chats and permanent content, improved digital footprint and reduced physical one, and so many more benefits to mention. But what matters most to us are the lasting connections that form through hybrid events regardless of the geographic barriers between us!
We’ve prepared a White Paper on Hybrid Events, just for you!! It’s free and easily downloaded, check it out here. We believe in the future of hybrid events, and our platform has been succeeding with this event format – if you’re interested, we’d love to speak to you about this. Just drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you ASAP to set up a chat!!
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