There’s another cliffhanger in the global events industry. Last year organizers had to decide whether to wait out the pandemic with no event or quickly launch a virtual event. In 2021, many organizations find themselves choosing between going 100 percent live or going hybrid (live + virtual). If you’re on the cliff, here are some of the benefits of hybrid events to help you decide.
One of the most obvious and often-cited benefits of hybrid is the potential increase in audience size. It’s a legitimate consideration since expanding the number of attendees, mainly from segments that can never attend the live event, has a trickle-down effect. More attendees could mean more registration revenue, sponsor and exhibitor participation, buyer-seller engagement and attendee data.
More content variety
Hybrid events can supercharge the content and programming of a live event. Speakers that couldn’t participate or were too expensive in the past might be able to speak virtually and at a lower cost. Factory tours, product demos, and other off-site activities could be broadcast from remote locations to the live and virtual audiences to add even more variety to the schedule.
Virtual platforms are huge overflow rooms for in-person events. In other words, if the city or state where your event is scheduled has a limit on in-person attendance (and many do now to adhere to safety regulations), going hybrid gives you unlimited room for content distribution.
One of the reasons that organizations even put hybrid on the table is risk mitigation. While the U.S. is doing relatively well with vaccinations and venues are opening up (with varying limitations), the door could slam shut if new virus variants emerge or vaccine immunity starts to diminish. Hybrid is a backup plan. If live becomes a no-go, the virtual component can take over the event.
While some virtual attendees will never attend the associated in-person event for reasons having to do with time, finances, or travel restrictions (visas), others may be in a position to participate in person in the future. The virtual component of a hybrid event can serve as advertising or even onboarding for future live events.
Efficient community onboarding
Lots of organizations are keen to continue the learning and engagement of the live event after it concludes. Many have tried to establish communities around events through mobile apps or community platforms, but the leap was too big. With a hybrid event, virtual attendees can move laterally into a community space on the same platform, and live attendees could follow.
Hybrid events are potentially more sustainable than in-person events. Limiting the number of live attendees in one location and inviting the rest to join virtually or connecting multiple remote locations to a central hub virtually (hub-and-spoke design) can reduce environmental impact.
It used to be that virtual attendees and live attendees were separated and had very different experiences. Now, through software provided by SmartSource, live and virtual attendees can interact and network with one another. This expands the opportunities for everyone.
With all the benefits associated with hybrid events, it seems as if the decision to go hybrid would be somewhat easy. It’s not. Hybrid events require a level of production expertise that most organizations don’t have in-house. And the return on hybrid has to justify the expense, which is different for every event.
To talk through the pros and cons of your proposed hybrid event, speak to an expert from SmartSource. Hybrid events are likely to remain a fixture in the industry. We can help.