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Beyond Covid: Hybrid Events and the Changing Climate of the Consumer

Author: Cassandra Keogh
Job Title: Director of Strategic Initatives

Hearing the word ‘lockdown’ was the scenario those in the events industry dreaded. We put our heads in our well cleaned hands and asked ourselves what does this mean for our future and principally how do we survive? It is important to start by saying that event professionals are no strangers to planning, communicating and content sharing in virtual environments. It is part of our everyday lives, we simply could not provide services across borders without it; but with the removal of face to face events we questioned what does the future look like; how do we continue to provide networking, forum and product showcase opportunities to our consumers?

Following my last article ‘Learning from Major Disruption’, which highlighted the need for diversification. We have seen the evolution of virtual events and an increasing importance being placed on the hybrid event. But what is a hybrid event and what does it look like?

Hybrid events still have a venue, they encourage in-person attendance and enable face to face engagement, but equally comprise digital integrations in the form of assets, content and experiences. Whilst not seemly new to events, in that materials are often shared before and during events (mobile apps and event microsites have made this possible), post event presentations are often downloadable and event registration and surveys are almost wholly done online; the hybrid event increases audience reach and engagement, offers comprehensive analytics and reduces geographical limitations. With the use of virtual platforms and environments, delegates are encouraged and sometimes rewarded, for reading, viewing and downloading content. The ethos has always been to reward those who physically attend the event, but now we see a new wave of engagement and attendance. The hybrid event provides access to resources and peer-to-peer engagement long before the live event, bolsters learning opportunities and  delivers additional session content. It helps delegates to attend sessions most relevant to them and services those unable to travel with live streamed and on demand content.

During lockdown the virtual events platform has aided training and seminars to continue and enabled virtual product booths and page assets to deliver value to event sponsors. Digital formats aid us in our marketing and sales goals to maintain the conversation and offer new ways to connect and engage with consumers and colleagues alike. But they cannot replace the human value that comes from a physical event.

As individuals we communicate our thoughts and ideas using verbal, written and non-verbal language, breaking barriers and connecting with others. Likewise, we crave social interaction and sensory stimulation. So, picture experiencing every event from your desk with little change to your environment other than what is presented on your screen. The physical event allows delegates to utilise soft skills, promote self-efficacy and acquire information and tools required to make informed decisions to achieve goals. They create opportunities for networking, problem solving and establishing relationships. Ultimately, physical events excite delegate personal interest and engagement!

Digital has highlighted that information can be presented in numerous format streams, expands your reach (by as much as 50%) and provides valuable consumer insights and engagement analytics. It can provide the basis of your content strategies to your target consumers by tailoring your content to align with feedback received from this primary data source. Couple this with the benefit of face to face interactions and the hybrid event will serve businesses by augmenting the delegate journey and experience providing a more personalised, participative and informative experience than ever before.

Hybrid events, the way of the future.

To find out more about end-to-end physical, virtual of hybrid event management, from Outsourced Events, speak to Denise Sharpe on +44 020 8995 9495 or email us.

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