In the world of B2B business, events were a staple, at least until the pandemic disrupted the world in every imaginable way possible. Social distancing guidelines and health protocols have put a spoke in the wheels of all traditional business models.
Today, it is not pragmatic to hold an offline-only event. While people and businesses have found the courage to move on from the pandemic (or at least they are trying to) — the reservations to be out in the open and interact with people are palpable.
A trillion-dollar industry employing over 12 million workers, the events industry has suddenly come to a standstill. Thankfully, with the integration of technology, open-mindedness, and somewhat of a do-or-die fervor, we are now blessed with the prospect of hybrid events.
Hybrid events are truly sensational in saving costs, increasing engagement, being flexible, collecting data, and increasing reach.
You do not need a large venue to accommodate hundreds of attendees.
If you are hosting a hybrid event, all you need is a good background, reliable internet connection, a professional ambiance, and an extraordinary speaker.
You do not have to worry about catering, attendance, and venue management. Think of all the good things you can have in an event, minus all the bad things. Hybrid events are the best thing that ever happened to the event industry.
Not all roses and peaches
The events industry has undergone a catastrophic shift because of the disruption.
London’s iconic music venue, Electric Brixton, which has been shut since the nationwide lockdown in March, is not sure when things will come back to being ‘normal’ and is certain that the events industry is bound to collapse.
This is where hybrid shines. It does not eliminate the merits of an offline event; in fact, it leverages, celebrates, and amplifies the offline model online. It should be no wonder that Apple, the world’s largest technology company, went with the hybrid event strategy for new releases, product demonstrations, and announcements.
There is often a misconception about hybrid events. It is not about simply standing in front of a camera and addressing the audience. There is undoubtedly more to it than meets the eye.
Respect content, and it will take care of our business
Before the era of hybrid, offline events had the splendor and pizzaz in activations, food & beverage, venue, décor, and speakers. That dynamic changed when attendees began watching event speakers from behind a laptop screen.
If there was a time where content and content marketing mattered in the event industry, it is now.
Event speakers in the hybrid spectrum have two key responsibilities – the first is to be proficient in talking and presenting. The second is to be engaging and encouraging.
Content was already an important subject matter in offline events; it takes center stage in the hybrid format. Either way, if you want your event to have footfalls and/or increased viewership, content is king.
Digital media, cutting-edge technology, immersive experiences supported by research and informative articles will play a huge role in an event’s success.
A perpetual relationship
Before hybrid, personalization was in email/direct mail invites, name tags at the event, and a novelty gift bag presented to the attendee at the event. It was a straightforward affair. Everything revolved around pre-event and during-event.
The personalization nurturing package is longer, sensitive, and more intricate with hybrid, and more so – never ending.
In other words, there is no beginning or an end with a hybrid event. The relationship with the attendee continues long after the event is over. The amount of valuable and actionable data a hybrid event can bring is gratifying for organizers. It helps them understand their attendees in ways that were impossible, unimaginable, and inaccessible pre-hybrid.
A match made in heaven
There is often a misconception that in a hybrid event, organizers who are new to hybrid are often left in a dilemma – should I favor one over the other?
Let us face it. The concept of offline events is well known to us. We grew up with it, and we know what to do in an offline event. This is different, and you inevitably want to play favorites – by subliminally favoring the better-known entity – offline.
That need not be the case.
A real hybrid event is a meaningful marriage between offline and online. It does not undermine one to benefit the other. The online motivates the offline setup and vice-versa.
That is the beauty of hybrid events.
You get to introduce your brand to 98% of the audience online who would have, otherwise, never made it to the actual offline event.
It takes much money to hire renowned speakers and organize events of large scales. A good event is only as good as its sponsors.
According to an AIM Group survey, 80% of large corporations are willing to sign sponsorship checks only for events that are hybrid in its DNA.
They understand that the world has been permanently altered for the better, and they want their name to be associated with events that are willing to roll with the times to reach people.
With the number of permanent remote workers set to double in 2021, the best place to reach people is on their laptops and mobiles.
It is true; things will never be the same again. The overnight changes have been drastic. There is no denying that. The disruption has affected industry veterans and budding professionals in the sector.
But it helps to think of it this way.
If it were not for offline events, we would not be here. It paved the way for this moment. And now we are here, exactly where it wanted us to be. A place many of us will soon call home — where possibilities are endless.
The offline model is in a better place. The best part is it has taken us with it. All we are seeing right now is the bright side of it.