If you’ve made the switch to hybrid events in the last two years, like the rest of the world, you may be wondering what the impact might be on your overall event strategy and how to proceed now that the world is starting to open up again. Or perhaps you’ve ceased all events entirely and now want to dive into the world of hybrid events. Either way, we’ve got you covered with our top 6 hybrid events benefits.
Hybrid Events Benefit #1: Improved Audience Engagement
One of the major hybrid events benefits is the ability to significantly boost audience engagement, which will hopefully lead to your desired action (such as increased sales, customer loyalty, or improved staff performance.) Hybrid events give your attendees the flexibility to decide exactly how they want to engage, which may include:
- Live Q&A sessions – many people don’t feel comfortable speaking up in front of a large group, so hybrid events ensure that everyone has the chance to ask questions and have their say by typing questions into the online chat or Q&A box
- Gamification – many virtual event platforms today include gamification add-ons, including trivia, competitions, and escape rooms, enhancing the experience for virtual attendees and boosting audience engagement
- Live polling – presenters can conduct polls among attendees in the room but also replicate the poll for virtual attendees to capture everyone’s thoughts and opinions
- Live chat – virtual attendees can participate in the in-person conversation by chatting to other attendees in the online chat
- Small-group breakouts – while your in-person attendees break out into smaller groups to discuss a topic, your virtual attendees can do the same. The presenter can quickly split your online audience into small groups so that they can benefit from the same discussions with their peers
- Networking sessions – virtual attendees often feel that they are missing out on the networking opportunities that take place at in-person events. One of the top hybrid events benefits is replicating the in-person networking experience virtually, allowing your online attendees to engage in group conversations or break away into separate “rooms” for one-to-one conversations
Hybrid Events Benefit #2: Extended Reach
Switching to hybrid and virtual events exponentially increases the reach of your events. Suddenly, you go from inviting attendees in your immediate area to welcoming guests from all over the world. However, this extended reach must be managed properly. If you’re looking to open up your hybrid events to an extended audience, here are some key considerations to bear in mind:
- Consider time zones – always include time zones in your schedules and plan networking and group events with global audiences in mind. That 11 am meeting may work well for your in-person attendees but less well for virtual attendees halfway around the world. This means understanding your desired and potential audience and ensuring you accommodate as many time zones as possible to ensure that global groups don’t feel left out.
- Think about what additional security might be required – hybrid and virtual events can be susceptible to intruders, and running multiple concurrent in-person events (perhaps joined together virtually) will multiply your in-person event security
- Adapt the flow of the event – breaking your event down into smaller segments will help you cater to your wider audience. Perhaps you could restructure the day to allow attendees in different time zones to attend the most relevant parts of your event (such as moving discussions relevant to European attendees to the start of the day to allow them to attend in their afternoon), or clearly publicize the agenda to help virtual attendees understand which segments they should attend.
Hybrid Events Benefit #3: Faster Time To Market
When you switch to hybrid events, you can benefit from enhanced business agility. Opting for hybrid and virtual events means that you no longer need to wait for everyone to be in the same room. Instead, you can gather people together to make the critical decisions that keep your business moving no matter where they are.
This faster time to market is one of the benefits of the hybrid event, as you can collaborate on product launches, advisory boards, feature release meetings, and more without having to fly stakeholders to a single location to talk in person. The sooner you can get people talking and aligned on key issues, the faster you can bring your initiatives to market and start reaping the rewards.
Hybrid Events Benefit #4: Improved ROI
One of the biggest hybrid events benefits is the improved ROI. A hybrid event strategy may enable you to reduce the spending on in-person events, which can significantly impact the overall cost of your events.
Hybrid events also allow you to harness the power of both in-person and virtual experiences. Not only can you address the needs of attendees in your immediate area, but you can also expand the reach of your event and make it easier for people to attend remotely. This keeps travel, accommodation, venue, catering, and resource budgets down, while still providing an engaging, highly tailored experience for your remote attendees.
Unforeseen circumstances, such as extreme weather conditions or last-minute changes and cancelations (which are more common than ever in the post-pandemic world), can have a significant impact on your events budget, so having the option to pivot to a hybrid events model at the last minute will provide “insurance” to make sure your event goes ahead no matter what.
Another of the benefits of hybrid events includes the ability to open up your event to additional sponsorships. A major sponsor based elsewhere in the country (or world) is unlikely to sponsor your local, in-person event. Still, if they know that you are catering to a broader audience, you may have more success in securing more sponsors.
Hybrid Events Benefit #5: More Choice and Flexibility
Potentially the top hybrid event benefit is the extra choice and flexibility afforded to organizations adopting a hybrid meeting model. This applies to meeting planners, presenters, event sponsors, guest speakers, and attendees. Instead of limiting yourself to a specific venue, a limited guest list, and a strict agenda, hybrid and virtual events give you many more options in terms of the type and format of the events you host.
Some attendees will be excited to travel to a new destination and network with their peers in person. Others may not have the time or inclination to travel but want to hear from your speakers. Providing your attendees with the choice to attend in the way that suits them means that the hybrid events model ticks all the boxes.
As well as providing extra flexibility to attendees, it also gives you as an organizer the opportunity to engage with a wider range of speakers and presenters. In-demand speakers may not be able to travel internationally to speak at your event, but a hybrid event means that they can join by video link to address both in-person and virtual attendees. This gives organizers huge potential to attract renowned global speakers to attract even more attendees.
Hybrid Events Benefit #6: More Sustainable Events
Environmental concerns are becoming increasingly important for event organizers. Going green is no longer a vanity campaign; it’s a necessity. Hybrid events reduce the carbon footprint of having everyone onsite by eliminating travel costs for a proportion of your audience.
Public transport can be encouraged for local in-person attendees, while attendees based further afield have the option to join in virtually. With the right hybrid event setup, remote attendees won’t feel like they are missing out on the in-person action, and you will reduce your environmental impact without reducing your event’s impact.
One way to maximize the sustainability of your event is to reduce the cost of tickets for virtual attendees and explain the sustainability benefits of attending virtually. You could also explicitly tell your hybrid attendees how you will be ensuring the event’s sustainability for everyone, including encouraging the use of public transport, providing digital-only resources, and sourcing local food for the catering.