Before we dive into the competitive advantages of a hybrid event experience, let’s clarify what we mean by hybrid events. Hybrid events are, quite simply, a mix of live and virtual events.
You take your live event, complete with an audience, content, and more, and you add a virtual component to it so your audience can participate and engage with your event, no matter where they are.
Are hybrid events part of your existing event strategy?
A recent survey by Search Engine Land found that 75% of marketers said it was highly unlikely they would attend in-person events in the first half of 2021. Equally intriguing is to know that 42% of event marketers claim a hybrid approach to events for 2021 will be their strategy. How do you weigh in on this claim?
What do they know that you don’t?
It’s not what they know, it’s how they think.
Building a solid hybrid event strategy now, positions event marketers for the ultimate pivot – offering an in person or online option without requiring a complete rebrand of the entire event.
Those that made the move first to host events virtually in Q2 of 2020 saw it. Halting events wasn’t the answer. Hosting them differently was.
Keeping the flow of business communications as consistent as possible through events lets you connect with audiences about what’s happening.
For example, in Q2 of last year, virtual events communicated how COVID-19 would affect business transactions and decisions, and what changes would be coming as a result of the pandemic. Likewise, its connection power positioned companies as someone that could be counted on in a time of global stress and disruption.
Early adopters used the virtual experience right away to inform, engage, and sometimes celebrate successes, amidst a lot of difficult global news. They didn’t take ten steps back, they didn’t freeze, they executed on the future.
So now we see a corner ahead, which requires a decision. Do you turn it, embrace a hybrid event strategy, and explore a new competitive edge?
Rounding the Corner from Virtual to Hybrid
Putting a hybrid event strategy in place now with specific goals gives you the ability to start exploring what the future holds. You’ll answer important business questions like:
- What should in-person events look like for your company?
- What do safety protocols look like?
- Does your event team need to grow or learn new skills?
- Should you explore outsourced options for production skill sets?
At the same time you’re exploring a hybrid event you continue to keep the virtual component a focus. When you already have the virtual event components for your hybrid event sorted out, it’s easier for attendees and you to pivot between attending in person or online without rethinking the entire event.
When you explore the future while maintaining a solid hold on what’s working well now, your competitive edge swells. Hybrid events allow greater flexibility. With flexibility comes speed, which makes you nimbler, and naturally more competitive.
The Advantages of Hybrid Events
- Expands Your Reach: Hybrid events increase your ability to reach a larger audience and offer the best of both worlds since they can easily connect offices and individuals located on opposite sides of the globe.
- Reduces Travel Costs: The travel distance often requires a lot of time and money, forcing more than you think to opt-out of attending. Hybrid events remove all those boundaries and give you immediate lift by reducing travel costs and providing an improved return on investment.
- Offers Scheduling Flexibility: Everyone is crazy busy, juggling different constraints on time than they may have before. Offering greater flexibility for attendees will further feed your marketing pipeline for the year. Give them the chance to feel connected with easy access to your material and provide opportunities for them to connect with industry experts. They’ll remember you for it!
- Increases Sponsor Participation: A broader audience means a bigger impact for sponsors. They get a larger lead pool and their message is being distributed to industry-minded people at more levels and locations. As long as they can effectively reach both audiences, 72% of corporate sponsors are interested in participating in a hybrid event.
Hybrid: The Bridge Between Virtual and Live
Do you know which version of an event, virtual or in-person, your audience prefers to attend? Some want back to live right now, and some won’t return to live even when it’s an option, for a long time. Meanwhile, there’s a large group in the middle who will decide based on a series of factors that aren’t concrete yet.
In today’s environment where businesses are working extra hard to stay in front of internal and external stakeholders, connect with customers, and network with like-minded professionals, the entrance of hybrid events and their soon-to-be booming popularity could be a competitive advantage to accomplishing those business goals.
We’ll close this one out with a quick snippet of a YouTube video from The Streaming Network, recapping a recent virtual event audience poll. Attendees were asked, if there was not a virtual event would you have come to the in person.
The number of yes’ astonished us! What did you think?