What will hybrid events look like in the future?
In recent press, Event Industry News featured key takeaways from Matt’s discussion, including ensuring equality between virtual and in-person attendees, promoting engagement across the board and addressing exciting shifts in the analytics model.
So why are hybrid events such a hot topic right now? Going hybrid is the ideal bridge between remote conferences that surged in popularity during the height of the pandemic and the increasing demand to bring in-person attendees back into the industry’s day-to-day reality.
A Quality Experience for All
One of the first points Matt raised in the ETL workshop, was the importance of ensuring the same quality of event experience for both in-person and virtual attendees. During the discussion, it was generally agreed that, in terms of content, this would be relatively straightforward to deliver. However, there were interesting differences of opinion when the topic of networking was brought up. Some thoughts were centred around prioritising visitors ‘on the floor’ whereas other views stressed that the focus should be on giving virtual attendees the tools to create meaningful connections, as they are the ones more likely to feel isolated.
The Hybrid Engagement Challenge
Leading on from this concept of feeling ‘left out’ when viewing a hybrid event virtually, was an exchange around engagement and more specifically, what virtual attendees are looking for in terms of interaction. While many people are happy to just have access to top-quality content, one organiser in the audience had a different view: that linking up with future partners and making memories during an event are some of the most important aspects of attendance and should be replicated in the virtual arena if possible.
Having the flexibility to include virtual attendees in much larger numbers was another good point that surfaced during the workshop. The strategy going alongside this would be to include a higher fee for in-person attendance than for a virtual ticket and while the physical attendees would potentially have access to a wider range of interesting elements, those wishing to attend virtually would be able to do so on a much smaller budget.
Don’t Underestimate the Support Required
With a hybrid model, there are many creative options in terms of delivery, support and resources. Matt was quick to point out that while hybrid events can be less resource-heavy than 100% in-person attendance, they still require a huge amount of dedication on the tech support side. Unlike the SaaS model that event organisers might be familiar with, the CrowdComms’ platform, for example, brings in additional streaming, video production and software integrations. All elements needed to create a truly fine-tuned and memorable event.
Robots were raised as the final discussion topic as a way to simulate in-person attendance for virtual visitors. The consensus among the audience was that perhaps we’re not quite ready to embrace avatars roaming around the exhibition space, networking with physical attendees and other virtual visitors alike. A development to watch for the future?
If you would like to discuss your upcoming event, whether you’re planning to go virtual, hybrid or in-person, please get in touch and see how we can take your event to the next level.