The event industry has spent most of 2020 in a state of flux. With most of the world under some form of stay at home order, event organizers and planners made a hard shift to online and virtual events.
But, as things slowly crawl towards a new normal, it is becoming clear large-scale, in-person events are still a ways away. As shelter in place orders are lifted, however, virtual events can be transitioned towards a hybrid event format.
A hybrid event features both physical and virtual elements, allowing you to respect gathering restrictions, respect social distancing protocols, AND put together an incredible live event.
If you are on the fence or feeling uncertain, here’s a short list of reasons why your event needs to be hybrid!
Reasons Why Your Event Needs to Be Hybrid
Increased Attendance and Reach
One of the biggest benefits attached to a hybrid event is the ability to reach a much wider, audience.
Intuitively, you may think that a hybrid event will split your audience but the truth is, it allows you to grow!
Sometimes your event will generate a lot of interest from people who would not be able to attend in person. Maybe they are too far away, the travel costs aren’t manageable, or they can’t devote multiple days to your conference or trade show.
By adding a virtual element, these interested parties can attend without having to face the challenges laid out above. They can attend the sessions that are most valuable to them and aren’t committed to being present at a physical location for the duration.
More Sponsorship Opportunities
Hybrid events are very valuable to event sponsors. And according to data collected from the International Conference Partnership, 72% of corporate sponsors are interested in participating in hybrid events.
The greater reach and attendance that is seen by hybrid events means that they can get their brand in front of more people. What’s more, they will be able to use the data collected at registration to better qualify the online audience and hone their sponsorship activities accordingly.
When selling event sponsorships, make it clear just how many opportunities a hybrid event can present. There are more traditional sponsorship opportunities, like branding the event space, the trade show floor, or conference segments but there are also opportunities online. Sponsors can put their names on virtual breakout sessions, live streams, event gamification, virtual waiting rooms, and networking sessions. There are lots of unique opportunities presented in the digital format.
And for you, as the planner, hybrid events allow for more options with regards to sponsorship packages. You can offer packages for the physical space, the digital space, or both!
Reduced Travel Costs
Obviously, hybrid events offer reduced travel costs for attendees. Virtual event elements mean that remote attendees do not have to worry about flights, car rentals, hotel accommodations, meals, and any other incidental costs associated with travel.
But these savings do not end there. Your speakers, vendors, sponsors, and your event staff may also be able to save.
Hybrid events allow for virtual participation. This means that you can potentially land a speaker that lives on the other side of the world without having to worry about getting said speaker to your venue.
With virtual participation, sponsors will not have to send as many people to work your event. They will have an onsite team, but they can have a crew working remotely to capture and qualify leads, ultimately saving costs.
Virtual events offer an incredible return on investment (ROI) because there is no need to book a physical venue or hire catering services. And while you do need those things for a hybrid event, they still provide a great ROI.
Hybrid events have a large reach and are easily scalable. A traditional event is limited in numbers by the venue capacity (even more so now with restrictions on gathering) but a hybrid event does not have the same cap. The number of remote attendees you host can be limitless, allowing you to generate more revenue from ticketing and registration.
And when it comes to setting up the virtual event platform, you really only need to do it once, and you do not need an entire crew to set up and tear down, which is more money in your pocket.
More Environmentally Friendly
The lockdowns and shelter in place orders issued all over the world in response to the COVID-19 outbreak have had an incredible impact on the environment. Record lows in air and water pollution were recorded in nearly every corner of the globe.
Because your virtual audience does not need to even leave home, your hybrid event will help contribute to lower carbon emissions.
In the same vein, fewer people gathered in a physical venue reduces the amount of waste produced by the event. Single-use plastics, disposable containers, wood waste, and paper print outs will all be decreased.
Collection of Valuable Data
Every event organizer knows how important data collection can be to both your evaluation and your event marketing efforts.
Registration at a physical event will provide you with good information. You can learn about attendee demographics and their profession but once they are inside the venue, their behavior and reactions to various sessions are hard to gauge. But, if you are hosting a hybrid conference or trade show, you can gain even more information from each virtual attendee.
Using event technology like a proper hybrid event platform can help you collect this data.
With digital event elements, you can not only see how many people participated in a session, but you can also see when they dropped out, when and how they engaged with the session, and where the virtual attendee spent the bulk of their time between sessions. Did they engage with sponsored materials? Did they hang out in the virtual lobby? The virtual cocktail lounge? Or did they attend networking and breakout sessions?
Knowing how attendees moved through the virtual space can help you improve future event strategy by giving people more of what they liked most. This data can also be supplied to speakers, vendors, and sponsors to help them understand how to improve their audience interactions and products/services.
Increased Attendee Safety
In this scary and uncertain time, attendee safety is paramount. Look for a physical venue that follows all safety protocols recommended by regional authorities. If you can, find a venue with a GBAC Star facility accreditation. This designation means that the venue has passed rigorous biohazard training and has committed to maintaining cleaning procedures and the use of PPE.
The number of people that you are able to include at the physical portion of the event will depend on local mandates but it will certainly be far less than the venue capacity. Adding a virtual experience means that you can get high attendance numbers without having to risk anyone’s health and safety.
A hybrid event offers a number of benefits to event marketers, planners, sponsors, vendors, and attendees. They are flexible and adaptable enough to fit into the constantly shifting virus mandates but they also address the shifting interests and needs of today’s consumers. More and more people are looking to engage virtually and often prefer that to more direct communications.
Do not let your event fall by the wayside and adopt a hybrid approach. When you are ready to move forward with your plans, reach out to Accelevents for event hosting and support with registration and ticketing!