The Events industry has been permanently changed due to Covid-19. As MeetingMax said “there is plenty of opportunity for hybrid events to enhance live events. Prior to Covid-19, it was primarily events on the forefront of technology that included gamification, chat bots, chat rooms and virtual streaming. We foresee these being standard across all events going forward, not an afterthought or a nice to have.”
There is a tremendous value-add to incorporating a virtual component to any in-person event. There is greater ability for outreach and impact and often for a lowered cost. Below, we’ve outlined 12 reasons why Hybrid Events are here to stay.
1. Expanded Outreach
There are always obstacles with attending an in-person event, mainly overall expense & travel time. While there is nothing quite like attending an event in person, it is far more reasonable and accessible to attend an event online, from the comfort of your home or office space. Corporate mindsets have also shifted over the last year to be much more open to Hybrid experiences.
Hybrid events give the option for attendees to choose whether it is worth it to attend in person or to participate through an online platform. This broadens the event organizer’s capacity for outreach. Invitations can be sent to people who wouldn’t historically be able to attend.
For example, event company PGI experienced a 500% increase in how many people engage with their streamed webcast events when they transitioned to virtual delivery.
2. Greater Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility
We believe everyone should have access to the enriching content, networking opportunities, and learning experiences that come with attending an event. But what happens when your organization can only afford to send its top executives? Or you are busy week-of preparing an important presentation? Or you work for yourself and don’t have the capital to get yourself to the event? Or the time, travel, and expense to attend can’t be justified?
By giving your audience the option to attend either in-person or virtually, you will open the doors for people all over the globe and at all levels in their careers to participate in your event.
You can send out invites to International audiences, busy industry professionals and part-time workers who will likely have the ability to set aside a few hours of their day instead of having to designate entire days or a whole work week to the occasion.
Going hybrid is also great for hearing-impaired and international attendees because of CART features. CART & Closed Captioning will give a visual aid for those who may not be able to auditorily digest content and information.
People who historically wouldn’t be able to attend expensive and time-consuming events now have access to networking and eLearning opportunities to advance themselves personally and professionally. Read: Best Practices for Making Your Virtual Event and Listing More Inclusive.
3. Reduced Carbon Footprint
This reason is indisputable. If your organization is looking to reduce your carbon footprint and be more eco-friendly, going virtual or hybrid is a wonderful option. You can maintain the integrity of your event and all the benefits of connecting with others while being conscious of the impact you are having on the planet.
A recent study showed that going virtual will reduce your carbon emissions by over 99%. You will reduce carbon emissions by eliminating travel as well as food & beverage waste when transitioning some or all of your attendees to a virtual platform.
4. Higher Quality Content
When event organizers aren’t consumed with the logistics of planning an event for thousands of attendees, their time and energy can be more directed towards curating the highest quality content and production level for presentations and keynote speakers. Scaling back the amount of in-person attendees will allow for organizers to focus on quality, not quantity.
Picture this: event organizers will use their time coming up with engaging polling questions, curating videos, and organizing interactive activities instead of worrying if they’ll have enough finger sandwiches, managing event staff & security, and scoping out venues.
5. Premium Speakers & Top Notch Keynote Presentations
When attendee numbers are decreased, budgets can be re-allocated towards curating top-notch speakers instead of paying for event space, food, and beverages. You can also curate speakers from around the globe.
Just as it is easier for people to attend virtually, the same goes for industry thought-leaders that you are curating to speak at your event. It is more likely you can book a few hours of their time than requiring entire days or an entire week for them to attend your event. Finding and securing talent is a whole lot easier with virtual & hybrid events!
Adding a virtual component to your event makes the transition of that content from live to OnDemand so much easier. If you are spending time and money curating impactful presentations and engaging content, you will definitely want to re-purpose that content.
When delivering a hybrid event, you will already have the technology in place to easily record presentations, conversations, and activities. With the right software platform, you should be able to easily transition that content to an OnDemand Knowledge Base or Media Library.
Within your proprietary Knowledge Base or Media Library, you can continue to distribute the content you’ve created into further learning experiences. Give your event attendees access to your content OnDemand.
7. Recyclability & Monetization of Content
After you transfer your content into an OnDemand Knowledge Base or Media Library, you can start to recycle and monetize that content in creative ways. Consider delivering a Certificate program that includes learning modules from the content delivered during your event. You could also charge a fee for access to event content for people who were unable to attend during the live event. Deliver Continuing Education Credits or OnDemand Professional Development with the recycled event content.
8. Asynchronous Learning
In line with recycling event content for continued learning opportunities, giving your event attendees the opportunity for asynchronous learning - the ability to choose what they want to learn, when they want to learn it - is becoming increasingly popular.
As Harvard Business Review put it, “routine live-streaming and recording of these in-person conferences, which was done inconsistently before, should become standard to allow learners who cannot physically attend to join virtually to the extent possible and engage asynchronously.”
Learn more about asynchronous learning and how to enable it through breakout sessions here.
9. Enhanced Data Capture
Never before have you been able to capture such rich data from your event attendees. With the use of an event software platform, you can easily track and record things like:
When your attendees were the most engaged with the content
When attendees logged off or were disengaged
What questions were asked during presentations
How long attendees stayed for presentations
Which interactive features enabled the most participation
10. Increased ROI
One of, if not the most, critical metric used to evaluate your event = Return on Investment. With lowered costs for entry and the ability to expand outreach and increase attendance, virtual and hybrid event organizers will experience an increased ROI. There will still be significant costs of using a leading event software platform, however, organizers are still able to charge comparable ticket prices, increase the number of tickets sold and reduce or eliminate costs for venues, food & drink, and in-person event staff.
Guarantee ROI to your Virtual Event Exhibitors & Sponsors with these simple ideas.
11. Continued Safety
In a post-Covid world, we have reason to believe there will be a heightened awareness around illness and maintaining social distance when one feels sick. Enabling virtual participation creates a continued environment for safety and comfort for attendees who may not be feeling healthy enough to be around large groups of people.
12. Enhanced Overall Event Experience
Even if you want to host an in-person event, there is no downside to not enabling a virtual component. For all of the above-stated reasons, using technology to enhance your live event experience can only add benefits to your organization and the ROI you get on the content you are working so hard to curate.
Enabling a hybrid component to all events can only help to expand your outreach and provide you with rich attendee data. “Your audience can participate and engage with your event, no matter where they are.”
The value-add of enabling virtual attendees has always been clear to those of us in the Virtual Event industry. With the rise of Virtual Events due to Covid-19, far more people are ready to transition indefinitely after having such positive, productive, and profitable experiences.
Event company PGI saw a 430% increase in clients transforming in-person trade shows, meetings, conventions, conferences, and town halls into hybrid or virtual events. Now that so many of us have experienced the benefit of going virtual, and have realized its added value, the event world will be hard-pressed to go back.