The Future is “Hybrid”

A woman waving at a laptop screen

Engaging Events that Deliver for Both the Virtual & In-Person Participant

We all miss meeting people in-person at live conferences and events. But before we can get back to “normal” (is normal ever coming back? that’s another blog topic!), the immediate future of events is “hybrid”.

Hybrid events are a combination of both online virtual access and a live in-person component. Two elements, one engaging event.

How fast hybrid will evolve in 2021 and 2022 will hinge on how fast the pandemic comes to a close (fingers crossed) and local legislation allows for more, larger, and safer in-person gatherings.

Going forward, there will be a wide range of hybrid event options and configurations.

A hybrid event can be as small as a few people socially distanced in an audience, along with live presenters hosting a virtual event. Or, down the road, it could be as large as an industry conference of hundreds on-site in-person with thousands more joining the event from around the world via a curated, custom online experience.

As organizations adapt and put 2021 marketing, conferences, trade shows, events and employee engagement plans in place – hybrid must be worked into the mix.

It may feel like double the workload, but the many benefits of hybrid can offset the increased complexity.

For example, the expanded online reach and accessibility can significantly boost participation. Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference was limited to 6,000 randomly chosen in-person attendees. However, the 2020 online-only conference included hundreds of thousands of attendees from every corner of the globe. No going back now, the virtual element is here to stay.

The challenge for organizations will be to produce an event that delivers on both fronts – in-person and online. After working from home for the last year, virtual attendee expectations are high!

It won’t be enough to simply live stream your in-person event to your remote audience. Who wants to feel like the virtual wallflower at the fun high school dance?

“The seat behind the screen should not be an afterthought – it should be the VIP seat,” said Kelly Power, SVP of Proof Experiences Conferences & Events team.

“Elements like exclusive video content, VIP interviews , unique access to speakers, advance mailers and event kits sent to remote attendees…will all be key to delivering a meaningful and memorable event experience to the virtual participant.”

My best advice moving forward in 2021 is to be flexible. Adapt and evolve your event plans – both online and in-person – as the world opens again and we rise to meet increased participant expectations in terms of content, engagement, interactivity, and personal safety.

Last Tip: Put yourself in the shoes of both the online and in-person hybrid event participant.  Are you delivering meaningful and memorable experiences to both audiences? If you need help, contact our Proof Experiences hybrid event planning experts.

Keen to learn more about hybrid events?

Join Proof Experiences on Wednesday, January 27 at 11:00 AM (EST) for a free virtual one-hour event on hybrid events.

Click HERE to register and start planning your 2021 hybrid event solutions.

Mary Beth Denomy

Chair & Founder


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