Virtual Events Hybrid Events

Hybrid Events: Definition, Advantages & Innovative Examples

The last few months have been a roller coaster ride for the event industry resulting in the upheaval of the events. Hybrid events have spiked up recently and have become the preferred choice of event planners & marketers. You must be fencing around what are hybrid events, why they are gaining immense popularity recently, what are hybrid event benefits? To have a detailed insight into hybrid events & some inspirational hybrid event examples, let’s get started!

What are Hybrid Events?

A hybrid event is a blend of a live physical (in-person) event with virtual online components. It could be a tradeshow, conference, seminar, workshop, product launch, meeting and exhibition or any other type of event.

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It is organized in a physical venue and can even be attended by on-ground and virtual attendees over the internet. However, hybrid events bring your physical audience and virtual audience in the same frame in real-time. Hybrid events help in delivering an online immersive experience to attendees by bridging the gap between virtual and physical events. These events have been gaining momentum over the past few years. Many leading businesses are organizing hybrid meetings and hybrid conferences on a daily basis over the past few years. To help you host your next hybrid event, we have shared an ultimate guide.

Why are Hybrid Events gaining all the limelight?

Hybrid events are successful and an innovative way of hosting events long before COVID-19 came in the frame. As the coronavirus global pandemic has taken the nations by storm, the event industry was left in flux for 2020.

A sudden spike in hybrid events has been witnessed recently. As the government has released orders of redistricting public gatherings to ensure health & safety, hybrid events took up its pace.

Hybrid events come up with some major perks over traditional ways of hosting on-ground events. The biggest advantage of hybrid events is its phenomenal reach that is far beyond the control of traditional physical events.

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The endless opportunities offered by hybrid events made it the first choice of event planners and marketers today. With such an event format, now marketers and audiences do not have to worry about geographical constraints. It enables anyone residing to potentially attend and be part of your event from their remote locations.

Apart from its impressive reach, other hybrid event benefits helped it to catch all the limelight and become immensely popular. Hybrid events alleviate you from organizing multiple similar physical events in various cities. Organizing a single hybrid event can capture the eyeballs of your audience residing across the globe.

To understand why you need to make your event hybrid, Let’s have a closer look at the hybrid event benefits:

What are the Hybrid Event Benefits or Advantages?

Hybrid events come with some major advantages that have inclined the interest of event planners, marketers, and attendees towards it. Hybrid events were prevalent long before COVID-19 hit the nation. Many leading businesses are leveraging hybrid and virtual conferences, webinars and meetings for a very long time.

Generally, event planners organize hybrid events when large organizations are willing to bring audiences and employees together. With physical events bringing everyone together to meet is nearly impossible. It can be due to various reasons right from limited space capacity, geographical constraint, or time zone differences.

With the change in the scenario, hybrid events are gaining all the limelight. As social distancing rules are mandatory to follow, hybrid events enable organizations to organize events seamlessly while adhering to rules. It helps in reaching out to potential audiences globally while ensuring health safety.

But, apart from health benefits, what are the other advantages of hosting a hybrid event? Let’s have a detailed look at some of the hybrid event benefits:

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#1. Wider Reach and Increased Attendance

One of the biggest advantages of hybrid events is an impressive reach that captures the attention of more audience. Hybrid events help in maximizing your event reach as it allows attendees to attend an event from their remote locations.

A recent survey reports that  96% of virtual attendees participated who were never interested in attending a physical event.

This can be due to several reasons. Firstly, they might live afar from the event’s physical location that does not allow them to pack their travel bags. Secondly, they are not aware of the benefits of attending the event in-person.

Hybrid events offer endless opportunities to tap the new audiences who were never interested in attending a traditional in-person event. According to event planners, an increase in attendance has been witnessed while hosting hybrid events when compared to traditional events.

#2. Better Engagement

The more engaging the event is, the more successful it is. Engaging audiences and keeping them hooked throughout is one of the most crucial aspects of hybrid events. It separates your video from watching a pre-recorded video.

Hybrid events not only enable attendees to attend an event from afar, but it also allows them to participate equally. It means, your virtual attendees can like, share, download your content, and give valuable feedback in real-time.

Hybrid events offer endless possibilities to increase attendee participation during and after the event as well. You can organize Live polls, surveys, contests, quizzes to gain the feedback of your virtual attendees while keeping them engaged. Hybrid events enable you to set up a guest speaker to have live chat with your in-person as well as the online audience. A platform that offers interactive and engaging virtual event engagement features helps in amplifying your attendance and boosting engagement.

#3. More Networking Options

Hybrid events offer various possibilities to connect and network with global audiences effortlessly. The hybrid event format is paired with a virtual platform thus enabling virtual attendees to interact freely in real-time.

The number of networking features offered by virtual hybrid event platforms make networking a seamless process. Right from offering real-time live audio/video chats to virtual networking tables, virtual business card exchange facility, B2B meeting scheduler, third-party app integration like Whatsapp, 2-way video interaction, AI-powered smart matchmaking, and more the platform offers many such networking features. It enables attendees to connect and network effectively without having to stand in long lines and waiting for their chance.

AI-powered matchmaking in hybrid events makes it easy for attendees to find the right prospect and connect with them. The need for crossing the crowd and finding a potential match gets eliminated. The options for networking in virtual hybrid events are endless.

#4. Environment-Friendly Alternative

A reduction in travel results in having a significant positive impact on the environment. During the lockdown, the empty streets of the crowded cities have shown a positive impact on the environment. The disposal of waste, pollution in the air, carbon emissions get reduced considerably. The worth of face-to-face interactions holds its own importance but making your events hybrid results in reducing the carbon footprints during your event. An eco-friendly alternative to host large-scale events.

#5. Reduction in Expenses

Hybrid events result in reducing the cost for all, be it an event planner, speaker, or attendees. Hybrid events are one of the cost-effective ways of hosting an event. It reduces the travel cost for attendees as they can attend the event from their remote locations. They no longer have to book tickets, look out for accommodation, food, and drinks. Whereas, hybrid events free organizers from various expenses as well. Renting a venue, hiring event staff, paying for speaker’s accommodation, and all the other costs get reduced with hybrid events.

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#6. Better Sponsorship Opportunities

Hybrid events offer better sponsorship opportunities in comparison to traditional events. Hybrid event formats hold more value to corporate event sponsors as it has an increased reach and attendance. A large percentage of sponsors wants to participate in hybrid events. It allows them to showcase their brand to a wider audience segment around the world. However, hybrid events have better reach thus it gives better exposure to any brand that is not possible with traditional physical events.

#7. Valuable Data Collection

Collecting valuable data insights is one of the most significant perks of hybrid events. Traditional events allow you to have the data of the registered attendees and a rough estimate of the attendees who participated in polls or Q & A sessions. Whereas hybrid events offer you with the accurate data right from the registration process till the finish line and even after that. Right from login to the interactions, comments, likes, shares, downloads, participation, etc. every move of the attendees are easily trackable. Hybrid events enable organizers to have the complete collection of data of how many people attended the event, how many dropped, and how they are engaged.

With the advancements in technology, the platform you select to host your hybrid event offers the complete data. In short, it helps in analysing the performance metrics and measure the success of the event.

#8. Better ROI

As hybrid events do not have any geographical or space limited constraint, the number of attendees can be limitless. Hybrid events are scalable, thus an incredible rate of interest is expected from the same. It helps in generating better leads and revenues with its wide reach.

#9. Flexibility

Unlike traditional in-person events, hybrid events are highly flexible. It allows virtual attendees to attend an event from a remote location from any device or browser. Apart from it, it helps in delivering immersive event experiences by allowing them to interact with speakers, planners, and other attendees in real-time. It offers an opportunity for speakers and panelists to join the event from remote locations instead of visiting a physical location to deliver the speech or make judgments. Hence, all types of internal & external hybrid events can be hosted on an interactive and engaging virtual hybrid event platform.

#10. Do Not Hamper The Event Budget

Large-scale physical events or we say on-ground events require a larger share of revenue to host any kind of event. But, by pairing your small-scale live physical event with a virtual component, you can reach a large segment of global attendees effortlessly without mending your event budget. Hybrid events can be hosted with any size of budget and enhance your event reach and accessibility effortlessly.

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#11. Social Media Integration

Integrating your events with multiple social channels helps you reach a wide array of diverse audiences instantly. Today, a majority of the population of all ages is present on social media platforms. Integrating social channels with hybrid events accelerates your event reach instantly. Attendees who were not part of your brand family or have never attended your event may likely be part of upcoming events after accessing its highlights on social media. It helps in promoting your event consistently. Additionally, integrating social media into your hybrid events helps in boosting engagements.

#12. Enable Attendees To Access Sessions On-demand

Hybrid events enable you to access the content on-demand if you missed out on the live event. It is not possible with the physical event. The hybrid event format allows attendees to catch the glimpse of the event even after the event gets over. Content can be utilised for future references or can be shared on social media platforms as well. However, resulting in extended reach and accessibility of hybrid events.

#13. Address The New Requirements Of Today’s Modern Attendees

With the advent of a global pandemic, the ways of hosting events have been completely transformed. A major shift in the event landscape has taken place. Almost every live physical event has been shifted to a virtual venue. The ways we use technology have been completely changed with the change in dynamics. As we entered the whole new era of digitalisation, attendees have adopted the changing technological trends. The demands of attendees have been changed altogether. Hybrid events meet the demand of today’s modern audiences. Going back to live physical events is not a smart move, even when things will bounce back to normal. Hybrid events allow you to reach a diverse set of event attendees globally. It enables attendees to attend the event by physically being present at the event location or by allowing attendees to join the event virtually from remote locations. It addresses the needs and requirements of both the set of attendees effectively.

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Some Incredible Hybrid Event Examples

Today, there are several companies that have adopted hybrid event formats & delivered immersive experiences to both virtual and in-person audiences. Let’s have a look at some of the most inspirational hybrid event examples:

#1. TwitchCon

As everyone knows TwitchCon is one of the leading live gaming platforms. There is no shock about the fact that TwitchCon pulled off hybrid event format phenomenally well. It has organized an incredible hybrid event that’s an inspiration for many.

TwitchCon hosts a large-scale event every year that pulls live streamers and fans of gaming across the globe together virtually and in-person.

#2. Johnson & Johnson

A leading baby care product brand has recently organized an incredible and inspirational hybrid event. The customized branding and easy to navigate features offered by the platform enable the brand to deliver immersive event experiences. The event was a huge success and gained all the applause from virtual as well as in-person attendees.

#3. Apple Special Events

Apple hosts one of the biggest apple special events that hold interest from business delegates across all the nations. They are hosting tech hybrid events to release new products, showcase demonstrations & make announcements. They ensure that their new release is accessible to all the attendees residing in any corner of the globe.

Hybrid Events are the Future of the Event Industry

As going virtual has become the new normal, more and more organizers and businesses are relying on the same. Ever after the phase of the coronavirus global pandemic gets over, marketers will continue to rely on virtual hybrid events in the long run.

As technology has advanced, it has prevented the event industry and many businesses from dipping down during the unforecasted outbreak of COVID-19. Virtual hybrid events offer more value to be ready for the challenging or unpredictable times ahead. Here is more on – Events Post COVID-19.

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Hybrid events offer endless possibilities and opportunities to marketers, event planners, sponsors, and attendees. It offers some major perks that are far beyond the capacity of conventional physical events. With increased reach, attendance, engagement, and return on investment, it has become the first choice of the event industry.

It delivers the promise of making your event successful by bridging the gap between live physical events and virtual events. Hybrid events are here to stay for long, take your events exclusive in a virtual hybrid plane, and connect with diverse audiences seamlessly.

Conclusion

Imagining how the world will look once we recover from the global crisis of COVD-19 is nearly impossible. But one thing is sure, the global pandemic has changed our ways to adapt the technology available to us.

However, it directly indicates the needs of the audiences have changed considerably. Businesses must ensure to adapt to the changing needs of the current and prospective audiences.

The significance of live physical events holds its own worth, but incorporating hybrid event elements to the same, helps you to keep running even in the unforeseen circumstances in the future. In short, if you have not yet thought about making your event hybrid, now is the time, think about it and maximize the realms of your business!

 

Editors Note: This article was originally published on 18th September 2020 and has been updated on 20th May 2021 for relevancy.

Pushpak Kacholia

A passionate writer and a keen observer of industry trends in technology, With over nine years of experience in managing technical projects and teams, Pushpak is currently the CTO and Business Head of Dreamcast & Webcontxt. With experience across both "products" and "services", he brings in the new innovations to each project. Specialities: Managing Engineering, Product Management, Product Strategy, Talent Acquisition, Innovation.

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