The ‘Hybrid Future’ of the events world is almost inevitable at this point. Whilst some are fighting hard against the rising tide of virtual technologies, others are embracing it with open arms. However as someone working in the fast-paced world of virtual experiences, it can be easy to forget that there is still a lot of confusion and misinformation out there.
Last month at PYTCH we hosted the second annual ‘Hybrid Futures’ event at our Virtual Venue space in Bristol. It was a great celebration of all things virtual and hybrid, discussing and connecting around the theme of moving forward to a new hybrid world in the events industry. However amongst all of the forward-thinking discussion, one question stuck out to me the most, and it was one that came from someone on my own team – someone who I thought should know better!
“We’re all talking about hybrid events, but what is a hybrid event? It doesn’t make sense to me”.
It’s a valid question. ‘Hybrid’ seems to have become one of those buzzwords that everyone talks about but nobody fully understands. And if we’re totally honest with ourselves, none of us know what the future of hybrid looks like yet. At the time of writing, much of the world is still in various stages of lockdown and unable to host in-person experiences. But attempting to understand hybrid is key if we are to re-open into a viable and prosperous future of events.
Put simply, a hybrid event is one which combines an ‘in person’ element with a virtual or broadcast one.
It’s as uncomplicated as that. There is no perfect ‘hybrid formula’. Instead, think of hybrid like a spectrum, and in the future every event will sit somewhere on this spectrum. Glastonbury festival is perhaps the most famous hybrid event – it is the quintessential live experience, with over 200,000 in-person attendees, but it is also broadcast live on TV and online to audiences of millions around the world.
At the other end of the spectrum is a TV show or ‘webinar’ (what a horrible word) that is broadcast to an internet-only audience from a recording or filming studio. This is the hybrid event that many are now choosing to conduct in light of national lockdowns; with no studio audience, but a live presenter and some virtual guests.
In the middle sits where many believe the corporate events sector is heading. An in-person conference/exhibition for a few hundred people, with many thousands more choosing to attend online. The plenary content can be broadcast to an event platform such as Intelligo or Hopin, and in-person attendees can use the same platform to network with both online and in-person delegates. The addition of technology enrichens the experience for both the in-person attendees and virtual ones, whilst also expanding the accessibility for audiences.
In the future, not all events will be virtual, or even necessarily hybrid. But organisers may find that the question they should be asking themselves is not ‘Is this a hybrid event?’ but ‘What hybrid elements are there to this event?’.
You can watch some of the sessions from Hybrid Futures 2021 on our Youtube Channel.
For more advice or to plan your own hybrid event, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0333 022 0171.