Webinars were first launched in the 1990s.
Cut to 2020 the pandemic compelled organizations globally to go digital. And event organizers replaced traditional events with webinars.
Do you see the problem with that? We went back almost 25 years, to speak to an audience that’s used to today’s technology. Read that again.
It’s quite likely you’ve done this too. We would have done it as well if we were in your shoes. The pandemic came upon us unannounced and we had to do whatever it took to keep the show running. Webinars enabled event organizers to promote their brands while keeping employees safe. And they achieved reasonable success while doing so.
Here’s the thing though, webinars lacked human connection. They lacked the opportunity for people to talk to each other. Speaker-led monologues took precedence over conversations. Organizers were in the dark about attendee sentiment. Attention spans began to shrink. The sheer volume of webinars led to what we now know as digital fatigue amongst attendees. ROI was also a growing concern for organizers.
All these concerns were addressed with virtual event platforms. The technology-led wave of change has altered the DNA of traditional events forever. Virtual events are here to stay – through the pandemic and even after it. Eventually, it would evolve into a hybrid avatar that would capitalize on face-to-face interactions as well as virtual networking opportunities.
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Geographical boundaries are now limited to the map
Every year, Adobe organizes an Adobe Summit that becomes a melting-pot of knowledge for marketers, creative leaders, and data analysts globally. In 2019, this event attracted 17000+ attendees. The virtual edition of this event in 2020 saw over 425,000 visits. Adobe recently concluded the second edition of their virtual event.
A virtual setup blurs geographical boundaries and gives organizers increased access to attendees and speakers. Not only that. In addition to reducing your marketing spends, it also provides a significant ROI. The reduced budgets and planning timelines provide marketers with more flexibility in deciding how many events to plan.
Human connection is now possible (even virtually)
Social connection is so integral to experience, that it can leave a gaping hole if missing. Webinars were creating this gaping hole. They work for situations that require minimal bi-directional conversation. But using it to replace events means nurturing a superficial human connection.
With the right engagement features, a virtual event can be set up to mimic real-world experiences. As an example, Hubilo’s engagement platform provides options to have a main stage for the event, sponsored booths, networking lounges, meetings, and personalized rooms. These features not only raise the engagement levels but also result in valuable outcomes. With this preamble set, the shift towards a hybrid model doesn’t seem far away. The impact of communication channels will diminish as long as people are able to communicate with one another, have meaningful conversations, and benefit from these interactions.
Scaling up the event is easier & requires less money
In a pre-covid world scaling up an event meant changing too many moving parts – venue capacity, food arrangements, accommodation, ID cards – the list goes on. This also meant getting sign-offs from multiple touchpoints.
In a hybrid events world, scaling up would be a direct consequence of the platform you have chosen. The number of attendees you can have, the networking area capacity, and the number of virtual booths available will be prominent talking points in the context.
Less time required, less money spent, more value derived.
Isn’t that the dream?
Gamification options have diversified
When Salesforce did an event in March last year, they became the first few organizations to embrace the flexibility of virtual events. A segment in this event allowed users to showcase their apps through a real-time demo. Attendees watched the demos, voted for the one they liked best, and a winner was announced.
This gamification feature was successful because it provided something for everyone involved. Those presenting their apps got access to a huge forum of 80K+ relevant people and a stage to showcase their product. The attendees got access to some latest ideas in the market. The organizers – well they reveled in the success of the activity and the engagement that it contributed to.
Tracking ROI for every dime spent is possible
And finally, here’s one more cogent reason hybrid events are here to stay. Hybrid event platforms are a treasure trove of data and insights. Tracking every movement of virtual attendees is possible with a fully equipped hybrid events platform. The number of registration, attendees, active attendees, conversations on platform feed, day-wise ticket sales, etc. can all be tracked on a hybrid platform.
This data benefits on two fronts. Immediately it provides the organizers with the opportunity to track event outcomes for predefined metrics. In the long term, it enables organizers to convert this data into actionable insights and use it as iterative feedback for upcoming events.
Prepared to take the plunge?
In the past year, virtual event platforms have empowered organizers to develop human connections and build meaningful conversations with their audience. Success has not been restricted to isolated metrics such as the number of attendees. It has also enabled them to expand reach and measure ROI through in-depth insights.
Bottomline. Hybrid isn’t going anywhere. It’s going to become the new normal for events. It is not a question of ‘if’ rather a question of ‘when?’.
Whatever stage of adoption you may be at, you should act and you should act now.
You could be someone waiting patiently for physical events to start soon.
You could be someone who has moved to webinars.
Or you could be someone who’s shifted to an events platform and feel like it’s not enough.
The sooner you switch to a hybrid events platform, the better for your business. Because if you don’t, your competitors will.
And as you embark on this journey you will have some critical decisions to make. You have a lot of choices, and it makes total sense you would need some help with this.
To help you make a choice that meets your needs, check out a demo of Hubilo’s hybrid events platform. This should help you get kick-started on your hybrid events journey.
Is that something you would be interested in?