Many factors are influencing the way marketing departments host and participate in events these days. The pandemic has been the main driver that pushed events into the virtual world, but it’s not the only one. The move to remote working, rising travel costs due to inflation, staff shortages and tighter budgets are also contributing to diminished in-person attendance.
At the same time, there are people who are eager to get back out in the world, to do business face to face and to grow their networks. So what’s the best approach for hosting and participating in events today? In a word, hybrid.
Events that feature both an in-person and on-line aspect have the potential to attract more attendees than those designed for just one type of audience or the other. If your marketing department is planning an event, consider taking a hybrid approach to maximize your reach without diluting your impact. And if you’re considering participating in upcoming industry events, look for ones that offer robust programming for both online and in-person experiences.
Nail the experience – both in person and online
Marketing teams over the years have gotten very good at making in-person events fun as well as productive experiences. And the quality of online events has skyrocketed these last few years as well, mainly out of necessity. The key to a successful hybrid event is mixing the best of both worlds – that takes more planning and strategy than simply recording live presentations and making them available online.
For the virtual attendees at a hybrid event, just as much thought needs to be put into offering experiences as part of the programming (if not more) as does for the in-person ones. If your hybrid event includes networking coffee breaks or blocks of time for visiting trade show booths for the in-person attendees, you’ll need to offer similar virtual experiences for the online ones. Otherwise remote attendees end up sitting at their desks waiting for presentations to resume, and you’re likely to lose their attention.
“At the end of the day, both in-person and remote attendees should enjoy the experience to the same extent and walk away with whatever the event set out to impart,” says Lisa Bennett, head of corporate marketing for virtual event platform vendor Kaltura, in this Forbes article.
Virtual DJs who play music between scheduled speakers, online meditation or stretching breaks, interactive chat rooms with experts, virtual trade show booths with downloadable resources, and even lunches arriving via food delivery services or snacks sent in advance help the virtual audience feel more included and engaged, which means they’ll probably get more out of it.
The marketing industry is still in the early stages of understanding what works best for hybrid events. This approach will continue to grow and evolve as we discover new ways to integrate online and in-person experiences. Now’s the time to start exploring how hybrid events could work for your audiences.
Contact us to learn how we can help you optimize your events.