The COVID-19 pandemic forced the event industry to explore nontraditional strategies. Event organizers put in heroic efforts to convert in-person occasions into entirely online events to keep people safe and healthy. As states have slowly reopened, these same professionals have organized hybrid events that include both in-person and online elements.
Today, it appears that COVID-19 is genuinely being defeated. However, hybrid events are here to stay. Even after the world returns to safe in-person gatherings, hybrid events are poised to remain popular. Here’s what you need to know about the benefits of hybrid events and why they’ll stick around even when the world returns completely back to “normal.”
Why Hybrid Events Are the Future
Hybrid events are any type of gathering that involves both in-person and digital elements, and well-mixed events give both pieces equal attention. While these types of events became popular because of the pandemic, they’re valuable in so many more contexts.
Why? Because a well-designed hybrid event has all the strengths of both digital and in-person meetings.
In-person gatherings allow people to get together and mingle in the same room. They make it easy to network, make friends, and experience the crowd’s energy. However, some people find in-person events less convenient in terms of time and travel.
Meanwhile, online events allow people to attend wherever they may be. It requires nothing but a device and a good internet connection. Plus, people can participate without travel complications. However, online events can lack some of the magic of an in-person occasion if not well-curated.
Hybrid events achieve both. People who are nearby or who love to socialize can physically attend. Meanwhile, people who prefer to attend events virtually can still engage with the event from the comfort of their homes.
This is excellent for event planners, too. By offering hybrid events, you remove the limitations of physical spaces. You can sell as many virtual tickets as your virtual event management solution supports. Plus, you can offer sponsors twice as many opportunities to be seen while supporting your event. You can easily double your event’s revenue with a minimal amount of work.
The rise of hybrid events has major implications for events of all types. The following four event types may never return to solely in-person gatherings:
Live concerts are a beloved form of entertainment, but limiting them to in-person events is a practice of the past for all but the most intimate and exclusive of concert gatherings. Today, most concerts and other live entertainment events can find a wider audience and more revenue by embracing hybrid delivery.
Hybrid music festivals are more than just a live stream of different concerts. In-person music festivals include interactions with other audience members, the opportunity to buy unique merchandise, and the possibility of talking to a performer. Showrunners can implement these elements into the digital half of music festivals to make the at-home event experience just as tempting as the live portion.
For example, you can implement chat rooms and online stores that only digital attendees can access. That adds a sense of exclusivity that’s appealing to music lovers. You can even offer a lottery for a chance to video-chat with bands that’s only open to online attendees. Offering this type of hybrid event can help music festivals expand beyond performance halls to the wider world.
Academic conferences are an essential tool for disseminating information. People use these events to talk to each other, learn about cutting-edge research, and expand their understanding of their field. While in-person conferences are useful, hybrid events could help speed up the transmission of knowledge.
Hybrid academic conferences are much easier for researchers and students to attend. People who live near the summit can go in person, and everyone else can attend virtually. There’s no need for distant experts to fight for funding to travel. They can simply tune in from their usual office.
With the lower cost of attendance, academic conferences can be held more frequently. Meanwhile, virtual round-table discussions, live-streamed lectures and presentations, and designated networking hours can give long-distance attendees the benefits of a traditional conference. Together, these elements of hybrid events can help researchers expand human knowledge in niche domains from all over the world more effectively.
Before 2020, the idea of holding races or endurance events virtually seemed strange. Today, however, it’s clear that virtual events get just as much engagement as live races. As the world recovers from COVID-19, hybrid endurance events involving in-person races and virtual challenges will likely become the norm.
People who want to attend a famous race but can’t travel can take part in virtual challenges connected to the in-person event. These challenges can include:
- Live virtual races, where the participants begin the race at the same time as the in-person event and cover the same distance.
- Asynchronous virtual races, in which participants cover the same distance but at a time of their choosing.
- Endurance challenges, where people attempt to achieve a certain number of miles in the lead-up to the live event.
Alternatives such as these will extend your race engagement and participation far beyond your local audience. Instead of being exclusively local, a race could include people from around the country.
The term “convention” covers a wide variety of events, and they all benefit from hybrid strategies. From professional conventions and tradeshows to hobbyist conventions, retaining virtual elements in the future will increase value for everyone.
Organizers of hybrid conventions can offer different ticket tiers for virtual attendees, just like they do for in-person visitors. Guests can choose whether they want to access the virtual convention floor, how many presentations they want to attend, and what networking events to attend. Just like academic conferences, hybrid conventions can achieve higher attendance without higher costs by implementing virtual ticket options.
Make Events More Accessible with Hybrid Strategies
The sheer convenience of online events appeals to many people. There’s no reason to abandon virtual events just because COVID-19 is winding down. Instead, you can embrace the technology and techniques that the pandemic encouraged and make your future events hybrid.
If you’re ready to focus on hybrid gatherings, Events.com can help. From virtual events to in-person ticket sales, Events.com can support every element of your plans. Discover how we can help you plan your hybrid events today.