At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, events were forced to move online and organisers made huge leaps in translating their live events to the digital realm.
As restrictions began to ease, hybrid events offered attendees the best of both worlds. Hosting some aspects of the event in a physical location and broadcasting it out to a virtual audience meant that, in effect, it made no difference whether you were physically present at the event or not – you still got to participate fully.
Since then, the pandemic itself has changed, and physical events have made a substantial comeback, however that doesn’t mean organisers have forgotten the benefits of recent technological trends.
Hybrid event technology has redefined the new industry landscape and will remain fundamental to the continuation and success of events in the months and years to come.
So, what benefits can hybrid events offer event organisers, and why are they here to stay?
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1. Increased audience and attendance
Although people with Covid-19 in England are no longer legally required to self-isolate, it is still recommended, and some people remain unable to attend events in person because of this, or simply feel uncomfortable doing so.
The hybrid approach lets organisers reach more attendees, even if they are unable to physically attend, and means that those comfortable with the physical event can participate on-ground, while those who are unable to travel to the physical location or prefer to attend from their homes can participate virtually.
Moreover, there is practically no upper limit to the number of virtual attendees a hybrid event can have, whereas in-person venues can only accommodate a set number.
2. Reduced costs and improved ROI
The greater reach and scalability of hybrid events attract more attendees and sponsors and can, therefore, greatly boost turnover – something that will be welcomed by organisers more than ever following the financial impact of the pandemic over the last two years.
The increased flexibility hybrid events offer also reduces financial risk, as it is easier to scale down in-person activities and scale up digital presence to reach a higher number of remote attendees.
They will, of course, still need to consider the costs for the virtual components of the event, but it will be significantly less than the cost of the in-person components.
3. More flexibility
Hybrid events also offer more flexibility in times of uncertainty. If an unforeseen problem arises, be it another wave of the pandemic or anything else, physical events will have to be cancelled in most cases. However, by having a hybrid event platform to fall back on, organisers can ensure they are prepared for such uncertainties should they arise.
Hybrid technology also affords organisers even more flexibility in terms of how they want their audience to connect, exhibitors to participate and attendees to network with one another, as well as how the content will be made available.
4. Better safety
Despite restrictions being lifted, organisers must still pay close attention to attendee safety at physical events – the virus is still very much ‘doing the rounds’ and many people are understandably hesitant to attend a busy conference hall, especially if they are medically vulnerable.
Providing an alternative to attend virtually using hybrid technology helps organisers accommodate those more concerned about their safety and wellbeing, and attendees or speakers who are feeling unwell can still attend the event remotely without putting themselves or others at risk.
Knowing that the event is safe to attend in the post-pandemic scenario can be a way of promoting it to a wider number of interested attendees who may otherwise have opted out.
The impact of the pandemic served as a catalyst for hybrid events to take centre stage as a potential lifeline during an extremely challenging time for the industry.
Now, despite the renewed appetite for getting back to in person events, digital needs to remain part of the toolbox of every event organiser.
By finding a hybrid solution that adheres to the new normal in which we currently find ourselves, organisers can continue to provide events that cater to all attendees, no matter where they are.
This is a guest post by Oliver Rowe, co-founder of VenuIQ.