If 2020 was the year of video conferencing, then 2021 (and possibly 2022) will be known as the year of hybrid meetings. With continued uncertainty surrounding global health and climate change, hybrid events will be a popular choice for corporate meetings for at least another.
While hybrid event delivery isn’t new, we’ve seen small and large businesses jump on the hybrid meeting train within the last two years. The benefits these companies have experienced convince us that hybrid events are here to stay.
First, hybrid allows companies to pivot from in-person to virtual (or somewhere in between) with confidence. Considering the increase in a remote workforce, hybrid is the perfect choice to reach a wide audience with efficiency, speed, and a smaller carbon footprint. Many companies and organizations are stepping up their environmental policies, and hybrid meetings are a great way to do this.
As we look to the future of corporate events, some emerging trends are helping justify this new way of meeting. These trends will equip you with the information to convince stakeholders of this strategy to reduce costs and improve efficiency while meeting business objectives.
Trend 1: Supporting a Remote Workforce
Work from home (WFH) had its big moment in 2020-2021. Today, WFH is being touted as one of the greatest company benefits and has broken the ceiling for finding the best talent. In the fall and winter of 2021, nearly 60% of the workforce was remote. Global Workplace Analytics predicts that up to one-third of the U.S. workforce will remain WFH one or more days per week after the pandemic.
Businesses that can support WFH will reap the benefits of reduced office space (and rent), the ability to hire from a wider pool of applicants, and increased productivity. Several studies on the effects of the pandemic reported that, on average, those who work from home spend 10 minutes less a day being unproductive, work one more day a week, and are 47% more productive.
But not all businesses can support 100% remote. In addition, not all workers want to WFH. Hybrid technology provides the best of both worlds and provides tools for conducting business on a large and small scale. Many companies are using this platform for interviewing, onboarding, training, and team collaboration events.
Trend 2: Sustainability and Safety
Climate change is a topic in which seems to be in the headlines daily. International travel is one of the largest producers of carbon emissions and a big hot button on this topic. A two-day, 1,000 person event can generate nearly two million kgs of carbon. Virtual events drop this number significantly by reducing the need for travel and conference space by almost 80%.
Travel and energy emissions aren’t the only sustainable savings either. Replacing printed badges, paper tickets, forms, and promotional materials with digital files also create a greener event. This last year, virtual and hybrid events have seen huge shifts in digital gifts, unboxing parties, and virtual reality, all of which bring participants together without having them be in the same physical space.
When it comes to safety, physical distance and sanitation are still a top priority. However, for in-person events, maintaining a 6-foot distance while inside buildings can be challenging. Hybrid events can help keep everyone safer by keeping in-person audiences smaller while not limiting the overall size of the event. Communication, collaboration, and innovation are not compromised when the right platform and tech tools are in place.
Trend 3: Faster Time to Market and Resources
Even before the pandemic, cutting-edge companies were leveraging virtual and hybrid meetings to train their workforce, conduct proof of concept meetings, hold product feature releases and launches, and collaborate with partners. What’s different today? Hybrid is now considered a strategic way to bring products and services faster to market.
Stakeholders and program holders realize that virtual and hybrid events are more agile than in-person events in many ways. With an in-person event, there will always be a risk of cancellation due to inclement weather or other physical circumstances beyond control. Virtual and hybrid events minimize these risks dramatically.
Additionally, since hybrid/virtual events can be recorded, there is the added benefit of on-demand viewing for those absent from the meeting. These meeting recordings can be used in employee onboarding or training, providing long-lasting value.
Companies are using virtual meeting technology in creative ways to provide faster time to information, resources, and collaboration to gain a competitive edge. One company used a hybrid hub-and-spoke model to partition a large sales conference into five connected regional events, bringing representatives from around the globe. This event was one of the most well-attended events in their company history, and now is the preferred method to deliver this conference.
There are many different hybrid meeting configurations connecting speakers and facilitators to global audiences: hub-and-spoke, one event/two audiences, live events with a virtual-only audience, and more. Here’s an article on three of the most popular.
Trend 4: Increased Engagement and Personalization
One of the most important KPIs in meetings is engagement. The level of engagement and interaction is often linked to attendee satisfaction. Since hybrid seeks to connect remote audiences with on-site attendees and speakers, engagement and satisfaction are greatly enhanced. A key feature of hybrid events is collaboration. Remote attendees are encouraged (and often required) to keep their webcam on and participate via chat and audio. Today’s hybrid platforms include robust tools making it easy for audiences to participate in live polls, Q&A, and chat.
Personalization is another emerging trend that hybrid events address amazingly well. An example of this is accessibility. Screen readers, translators, and other applications are designed to support people with varying abilities and/or languages. The growing need for personalization— from food and product allergies to personal preferences—can be accomplished more easily via digital methods.
Another huge benefit of hybrid is access to event data. Many of today’s most popular digital platforms have many ways to collect pre-, during, and post-event data. This data can provide a lot of valuable intelligence to draw out actionable insights. For example, you can find out how many people attended individual sessions, visited sponsor booths, or downloaded collateral. Surveys may be used to further discover attendees’ personal preferences for even more customization at future events.
Trend 5: Promotion of the Event Experience
These days, one of the measures of success for an event is social media engagement. Just go to your Instagram or LinkedIn feed, and you’re bound to see your network sharing selfies, team photos, and other experiences while at an event. Digital event platforms allow for integrating social media feeds, hashtags, and personal mentions so that attendees can share their experiences in real-time.
Social media can be used for promotion before and after an event and is a powerful engagement tool during an event. Tagging speakers and spotlighting sessions using a hashtag can help build excitement and promote attendance. You can create social forums and social media walls to share details about sessions and speakers and connect with other attendees during an event.
Want more information on how to pull off a flawless hybrid event?
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