The Age of the Hybrid Meeting
While one event attendee sits front row watching presenters and entertainers do their thing across a sprawling stage, another guest sits at home in her pajamas, watching the entire experience unfold in real-time—this is the age of the hybrid meeting.
With the future of meetings and events forever altered by the pandemic, it is important for event professionals to recognize industry trends to be successful during these unprecedented times. One of the major trends that is increasing in popularity today is the hybrid meeting: a combination of a live and virtual meeting, which allows attendees to choose what format they would prefer to experience. For events to continue, choice will be the guiding principle to assure would-be guests that their comfort is a top priority.
While some attendees may be wary of leaving their homes, others are ready to escape them. Due to the varying comfort levels each of your attendees may have, choosing an all virtual or all live event may not be the best way to satisfy guests. Instead, hybrid meetings are a great answer to the difficult question of whether to host a live or virtual event.
The age of the hybrid meeting comes with an array of benefits for attendees, event planners, and organizations who are hosting. These benefits include:
Meeting All Attendees’ Comfort Levels
One major, and obvious, benefit of the hybrid meeting is the fact that it meets everyone’s needs in regard to safety and comfort. Giving attendees the choice of event format not only allows them to feel in control and comfortable, but it also allows event planners to bypass making this decision for the guests.
Increasing the Number of Attendees
Because everyone’s comfort levels are met, more people will attend your meeting or event. Live-streaming will allow those at home to feel a part of the experience, and an added bonus is that many of these remote guests will want to attend live the next year. By switching to a hybrid format, you can potentially increase, not just this year’s event attendance, but also attendance for future, live events.
Eliminating the Need for a Large Event Space
This is yet another reason to consider making your event hybrid. Because live attendance will be lower due to the virtual event option, this means that your organization can save on the expense of obtaining a venue to house all of your guests.
Providing a Green Alternative
Along with reducing costs, hybrid meetings also provide an environmentally conscious way for people to attend your event. With less people driving or flying to the location and instead opting for the virtual choice, your event will have the added benefit of reducing pollutants.
Allowing the Event to be Viewed at a Convenient Time
With the addition of a virtual option for attendees, events can be recorded so that sessions may be viewed at your attendees’ leisure. Guests would then have the luxury of being able to watch the event after it has occurred. In addition, this gives guests the ability to rewatch any session they may have missed or would like to see again.
While it’s apparent that hosting a hybrid event has various benefits, there are also drawbacks to the age of the hybrid meeting. The disadvantages include:
Doubling Logistical Considerations
Though hybrid meetings and events allow everyone to feel comfortable with the environment they are in, this comfort comes at a cost. That cost is the logistical considerations that must be made to have both event formats. Instead of event planners focusing all of their time and energy on ensuring that their live event goes smoothly, they now have the additional task of making sure their virtual event comes together as well.
Having Costs Related to Both Live and Virtual Events
Two is usually better than one but not in terms of cost. While the cost for the live portion of your event will be substantially less due to the decrease of in-person guests, there will still be many costs to consider, including making the event accessible for online attendees.
Creating Content for Both Live and Virtual Attendees
Creating content that works for both your live and virtual guests can be tricky. More thought will have to be put into the substance of your event to ensure that it is advantageous for both types of attendees. Event planners must create compelling content using high-end equipment to ensure production quality. It’s important to make sure that all guests, regardless of how they attend, feel the event is worthwhile.
Making Your Virtual Audience Feel Truly Connected
With a hybrid event, it’s easy for virtual attendees to feel less important than live attendees. An event app can play an important part in keeping virtual guests engaged. Live polls or question and answer sessions within the app can help those at home feel a part of the live event.
While there are drawbacks to implementing a hybrid event, we believe that the benefits far outweigh the negatives, especially now. During this time of uncertainty, hosting an event where your audience is in control of their experience is a strategically sound decision—one that not only benefits the guests, but your organization as a whole.