Coronavirus facilitated a dramatic change from in-person events to virtual. So, what's next? Say hello to hybrid events, a mixture of live and virtual events. What constitutes a hybrid event can be blurred but to put it simply, it is an event that combines both in-person and virtual experiences. Hybrid events will play a crucial role in the events industry moving forward.
Although hybrid events are viewed to be the future of events, it is a common misconception that they are only just ‘up and coming’. Hybrid events have in fact been integrated into the industry for years, right in front of our eyes. The most well known being Glastonbury Festival - I bet you didn’t know that was a hybrid event! Glastonbury Festival is live streamed and shared via various media outlets, making it a hybrid event.
For more information on what hybrid events are, please click here.
Types of hybrid events
A hybrid event is one which combines an ‘in person’ element with a virtual or broadcast one, which means you can be creative in the formula and delivery of these events. The following are some examples and case studies but are not the only formulas out there.
Events with in-person and virtual audiences
One formula for hybrid events is running the event as ‘normal’ but having a combination of in-person and virtual attendees. The live event is to run as usual complete with an in-person audience, and the virtual component permits your audience to engage and participate with the event from anywhere! This will have an impact on the production of the event, so it is important to establish whether this is the direction you wish the event to take before solidifying any production plans.
With the right platform and production team in place, this formula gives your audience a choice in how they want to attend the event. This will vastly increase your chances of achieving ROI, as some individuals may not have the time or means to attend the event in-person.
TwitchCon is an 'in-person' event bringing thousands of fans together. There is a live streaming element where virtual attendees are able to participate in the event through live streaming, panels, tournaments and more!
Interactive live streaming
Interactive live streaming is a live video event which allows the delegate to interact, influence or contribute to the content of the live event. The content interactions are an incentive for participants to remain engaged and include (but not limited to) quizzes, polls and live chats. In other words, interactive live streaming is a simulation of a physical event, that is purely virtual. You can interact the same way could in a physical environment, with virtual lobbies, chatrooms & digital content.
Interactive live streaming has the potential to be successful but it does have one big drawback; live streams are commonly attended by a screen-based audience. Making the challenge of engagement all the more difficult. When searching for the right platform or event supplier, ensure you query what engagement features they have you can utilise and whether they can provide rich analytics throughout and after the event.
Example: UEG Week
UEG Week is a prestigious gastroenterology meeting/hybrid event.
The meeting consists of a live streamed real-life procedure but also includes interactive features available for in-person and virtual attendees.
Live streaming allows you to watch and share videos in real time, similarly to a television! There are three components that produce this formula, an internet enabled device and a platform to stream on, such as a website or app.
Some popular platforms for live streaming include Facebook Live, Instagram Live Stories, Twitch TV and Tik Tok.
Example: Glastonbury Festival
A five-day music festival based in the South West, the event and various stages are live streamed on TV for views to enjoy at home.
Benefits of a hybrid event
Producing a hybrid event can have many benefits, here are some of those advantages listed:
- Expanded reach - providing your audience with the choice of in-person or virtual attendance, will inevitably increase participants. Using a venue restricts your capacity so the addition of a virtual audience increases the potential for reach exponentially.
- Enhanced content engagement - running a virtual event allows the host to record the event, sessions and breakout sessions. This means participants or attendees who couldn't make certain aspects of the event engage with the content weeks or months after the event.
- Reduced carbon footprint - An individual attending a virtual event saves upto to 2000lbs of co2 going into the atmosphere.
- Increased sponsorship value - Increased reach through a hybrid audience means increasing the exposure for the sponsors. Not to mention the virtual/digital aspect of the event creates additional opportunity for brand awareness. These advantages will in turn attract more sponsorships to the event.
- Valuable data/rich analytics - digitising an event makes it much easier to monitor and gather data, which is essential in evaluating the success of the event for future development.
Where do I start?
A good hybrid event starts with the right partners and suppliers. It will depend on what type of hybrid event you would like, but in an ideal world you would seek a company that is established in both virtual and real-world event services. Or even work with companies that already have relationships with one another.
Many event companies were forced to pivot their physical events to virtual ones, and have become accustomed to doing so. This makes it easier now, more than ever, to work with diverse companies who can function effectively in both the virtual and physical event world. It is important to remember these web-based platforms use the same elements and features as a physical event, but pair with a great streaming service to deliver excellent virtual experiences.
Remember that hybrid events have a broad spectrum and no formula is the ‘right formula’. Lean on your suppliers and partners for support/advice and enjoy the process!
If you want any further information or advice, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us.