Over the past year or so, people have adapted tremendously quickly to online events – from casual online quiz nights to fully fledged virtual conferences. Both the available technology and user willingness has increased and improved. As we look forward to live events again, however, there are some things we’ve enjoyed and learned from the virtual world that we don’t want to leave behind.
This is where hybrid events come in. Striking the balance between a live event and a virtual one, we predict that hybrid events are going to become a popular event format in the months and years to come.
So, Exactly What Are Hybrid Events?
Hybrid events are a combination of both live events and virtual events. With a hybrid event, a live event is delivered to an in-person audience and a digital audience at the same time. The important thing is that both audiences can engage and participate equally, whether they are in a venue with you, or attending remotely.
If you host a live event which is simply being live-streamed, this doesn’t fit the hybrid event criteria, as your online audience won’t have the opportunity to contribute and interact like your live audience can. Engagement with both your live and virtual audience is key, and a variety of technology can be utilised to ensure your online audience achieve the same quality experience as those attending in person.
What Are the Benefits of Hybrid Events?
Hybrid events have a large variety of benefits for both the host and the audience. The fact that hybrid events incorporate elements of live and virtual events means that they also get to take the best bits from both!
Here are some of the key benefits of hybrid events:
1. Increase Your Audience & Accessibility
Live events will always be limited by people’s ability or willingness to travel to your venue to attend. With hybrid events, there are no such limitations. Those that are closeby or wish to travel can still do so. However, those that are geographically far away or those who don’t have the time or means to travel can still attend virtually. With the focus of hybrid events being on offering an equal live and virtual experience, those that attend virtually shouldn’t feel like their event experience is compromised either.
By opening up your event to a virtual audience too, you can greatly expand your reach. People who may never have attended a live event of yours now can, and may even be persuaded to join events live in the future. Not only is larger reach great for getting your message out there and improving accessibility, it’s also attractive to sponsors. More attendees, flexible sponsorship options and more detailed metrics are all persuasive benefits for hybrid event sponsors.
2. Reduced Costs & Increased ROI
With hybrid events allowing reduced event costs, they can be a more profitable event type. With no limit on attendee numbers for your virtual audience, you can enjoy a fantastic reach without having to organise a large-scale live event. With a more modest in-person attendance, savings can be made on everything from venue hire to staff costs and catering. Although you will need some support on the virtual side, likely from a team of technical experts, this will be on a much smaller scale than the staff needed for live events.
When it comes to ROI, it’s a similar story. By cutting down on your costs for hosting a live event but increasing your reach online, you achieve a stronger margin. With a greater online reach, you can still attain a strong return across a variety of goals, from sponsor ad views to subscriptions and product demo signups.
3. Better for the Environment
With an online attendance option, hybrid events reduce the need for attendee travel. As transportation is a big source of carbon emissions, with less people travelling to your event you are lowering its carbon footprint. What’s more, there will be less resources needed at your venue for live attendees – from food to flyers.
4. Better Audience Engagement
The virtual side to hybrid events allows a lot more choice when it comes to engagement. Via your virtual event platform or ‘virtual venue’, attendees can chat, comment, ask questions, answer polls and much more. This can create a much more conversational format than a typical live event, as speakers can keep up with the attendee engagement as they go.
We’ve all been there: a live speaker asks for opinions or opens the floor to questions and no one wants to pipe up in front of a large audience. Well, with the technology there to facilitate, people can field their questions without the worry of public speaking! Here at Stage Connections, we use Sli.do for creating live polls and Q&As so people can engage and contribute freely.
5. Increased Data Capture
Data on attendees at live events can be quite hard to obtain and is often limited or vague. With a large proportion of your hybrid event attendees joining online, this opens up a lot more opportunities for rich data capture. You can track which countries people are joining from, how long they join for, which topics/talks draw the biggest audiences, attendee engagement rate, and more. Using events platforms will help you track this data, which can then be used to inform future events, marketing, sponsorships and more.
6. Adaptable & Future-Focused
Hybrid events are adaptable and flexible. Online event platforms can be customised quickly and easily according to different needs, vastly more so than physical venues. This gives you great scope to create a unique hybrid event experience for your attendees. What’s more, should there be a spanner in the works – like a live speaker having to self-isolate or local lockdowns returning – the virtual side of the event can step up. Speakers could join remotely and in-person attendees could opt to join virtually instead – no one needs to miss out!
Issues aside, most people have been working remotely for over a year now and many have discovered this suits them well. Looking forward, people may not want to return to traveling for work or live events, and will want to see the continuation of virtual alternatives. Hybrid events give these people a way to still attend, engage and enjoy events in a way that they are comfortable with.
As you can see, there’s a compelling case for hybrid events, with benefits for everyone involved. If you would like to plan a hybrid event, the Stage Connections team can help make it a success. With a team of technical event production experts, designers to build your bespoke virtual events platform, and a wide variety of event hire equipment, we can support both the live and virtual elements of your hybrid event. Get in touch today to talk to one of our helpful team.