David Bedford, Chief Operating Officer at V-Ex.
You’ve heard of them by now, haven’t you? They’re the latest and greatest trend in the MICE-O-Sphere now that we’ve all finished ‘pivoting’.
But, at the risk of drawing back the curtain and taking a peek at the man behind the mask, what actually is a Hybrid event – and why should we bother with them?
What is Hybrid?
First, let’s define what we mean when we talk about Hybrid. At V-Ex we would describe any event that incorporates both a physical and a digital audience within the same experience – at the same time – as Hybrid.
This definition specifically excludes two types of (brilliant) events that you might have seen described as ‘hybrid’ elsewhere:
- Using a physical studio to live stream a seminar or conference to an online audience – that’s a digital event with high production values
- Hosting a traditional live event with a physical audience and then offering up recordings ‘On-Demand’ later – that’s a live event with a well thought out comms strategy
A truly Hybrid event should accommodate both audience types simultaneously and engage them both equally with shared content and experiences. A VIP crowd should be invited to attend the event and meet your speakers and sponsors in person. At the same time, you should open your virtual doors to a digital audience who can watch keynote speeches live and join in with Q&A sessions or live networking.
How can Hybrid elevate my event?
Now that we’re agreed on what is (and what isn’t) a hybrid event, it’s time to ask the most important question: why should we bother?
You can add as much sparkle, glitz, glam and pazazz to an event as you like. But if it doesn’t have a clear objective and achieve pre-defined, quantifiable KPI’s then it can’t be classed a success.
Typical KPI’s would include:
- Secure the largest possible audience that meets my target demographic
- Deliver content that engages and/or educates my audience – make it worth their while
- Deliver an ROI to key event stakeholders and sponsors
- Leave a lasting, positive memory of the event to build a legacy for future events/activities
If any, or all, of those KPI’s seem familiar to you then you really should be looking at your Hybrid options.
- Extending your event out to a digital audience gives your event a virtually unlimited capacity. You aren’t restricted by venue size and your digital audience doesn’t have to worry about travel and accommodation – or even language barriers.
- Your VIP physical audience can be given a more intimate experience, while your digital audience is able to watch all your speakers live and contribute to Q&A and roundtable sessions. They can also take part in live delegate networking and book meetings to speak 1-2-1 with event sponsors.
- A bigger audience equals better opportunity to sell – which is what 99% of events really boil down to. Using the V-Ex platform to host the digital side of the event gives you secure visitor registration and analytics, which means more sales and marketing data for your stakeholders and sponsors.
- A Hybrid event is inclusive to all. Whether a delegate attended live or online, they have been catered for and will appreciate the efforts you’ve gone to. Your marketing team will also thank you for all the juicy, online content you’ve given them for when they start marketing next year’s event.
Is it really that simple?
A well-managed, professionally produced Hybrid event should look effortless to the outside world, but that’s only possible with a bit of hard work and commitment behind the scenes.
Identify the benefits that a Hybrid solution could bring to your event then commit to the digital portion of the agenda; there is no reason why you won’t reap the rewards. Speak to your project management team and supply partners to make sure they fully understand the brief and can demonstrate their capabilities.
The V-Ex Project Management team is well versed in combining the physical with the digital, so we are familiar with the questions that need to be asked of your venue, AV suppliers, graphics and creative teams etc. In our experience, once the brief has been defined there is no reason why a Hybrid event should add much in the way of increased stress or sky high costs to your event.
Learning from the past for a better future.
The last few years have been tumultuous to say the least. But what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.
The MICE industry and our clients have finally embraced digital and, in the most part, recognise the benefits that it can bring to the table: sustainability, reduced costs, flexibility, diversification, audience numbers etc.
Hybrid events should be seen as a celebration of the very best that the pre-Covid era of events offered, combined with the latest and greatest opportunities of the digital world.