Hybrid Events: The latest hot trend, but is it worth following?
Hybrid events which are part live event and part virtual or digital are a sign of pandemic times. Can’t let Covid-19 get in the way of progress after all,
Since live events can quickly turn into super-spreaders—even if they are allowed—virtual or digital meetings make sense, but can be a let down. Are hybrid events the solution? Just because we can, should we?
Trends involve many others doing the same thing, which proves to many that following trends is safe and profitable. Does that mean you’re smart to jump on the Hybrid Event trend for your next special meeting?
Before you dive in, or hire an Event Professional to dive in for you, think.
Ask two key What’s Your Point strategic questions before you jump online to search anything:
- Question #1: What’s my point in hosting an event? That is, when this is a roaring success, what will have been accomplished, communicated, and proven? What is there to gain? What is there to lose?
- Question #2: Who’s my WHO for this event? Your pre-Covid WHO may have changed dramatically under pandemic pressures. Is it time to redefine your preferred or target client—your WHO—by re-identifying your target market as it exists now, not as it existed pre-pandemic? Or should you target a different ideal client?
Timing is everything these days. What will your WHO want or need by the time you expect their buy-in for your event?
Is technology or people the focus of your event?
“Hybrid is a misnomer,” said Boston-based Kevin White, CSEP and Chief Strategist at XPL, an award-winning experiential design agency, during his keynote at a recent virtual meeting of the Toronto Chapter of the International Live Events Association (ILEA). This digital meeting welcomed participation of Chapter members from across the country in a virtual rooftop garden generated by sponsor Connect Event Hub.
White stressed that doing a virtual event and at the same time doing a live event is not a hybrid event as many label such happenings. This is a multichannel event since there are two channels involved: live and digital.
Participants attending either of the two channels will each have a different experience and want different things. If the event is not a hybrid event, can participants have a hybrid experience since the client experience is top of mind in savvy businesses?
“We’ll see true hybrid where the individual experience is a blend of virtual and live,” said White.
His suggestion now? “Use virtual so you can do that safely, if you do not want to have to cancel. If a live version would collapse at any moment, what’s the point of doing it? This is a risk-taking decision. If the next 8 weeks go smoothly, we may be in a good spot in June of 2021. We may be OK. So do a single channel of virtual and do not think about live. The future is not hybrid.”
White emphasized that digital audiences need as much engagement as live-event audiences to entice them to attend the initial virtual live event. Live and in-person has the draw of urgency and immediacy. What is important enough at your digital event to entice attendance when organizers desire it? The worse incentive to attend a virtual live event is offering a view-anytime replay. Everyone loves replays, but who actually views them?
Event professionals are, by definition, ready for anything. That’s the nature of their fast-paced, change-a-minute business world, so the pandemic has them digging deeper into the creative, but not sacrificing safety to do so.
White stressed the importance of building pandemic safety from the start, throughout a live event, as people leave, and once they are home since these are all Covid-19 contamination points. Making individuals feel personally involved in their protection by including post-event follow-up identifies the professional-events skills involved.
Considering your next event? What’s Your Point?
- Often when business owners hire professionals in any field, these would-be clients end up telling the professionals how to do their jobs. The pandemic continues to keep the world off balance, so that professional expertise and experience is essential to achieve results in spite of continually shifting norms. Is it time to stop telling and time to ask professionals for their assessment of what you need to achieve your definition of success?
- Technology can distract you from the people you wish to serve. Events are made exciting by technology, but it’s the excitement of attendees that really matters. Event professionals will dazzle you with their problem-solving expertise and their creative-communication powers if you listen instead of telling them “we must have hybrid because everyone’s doing it.”
- Read on…Uncertainty Is Certain AND Manageable