Hybrid event - Does the covid "invention" have potential to survive?
Hybrid events had the first impact on us during the global pandemic Covid-19. Does this form of event have the potential to continue in the future? Read the article and our opinion on this relatively new form of event organization.
They say that new and often very powerful opportunities arise during a crisis. Hybrid events emerged at a time when the whole world was in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic. Does this model, which combines online events with classic "offline" events, have potential in the post-Covid era as well?
What are hybrid events
It is a combination of a classic event, where guests are part of a certain happening at a given location and time, with an online event, where you are able to join the event at a given time via the internet from anywhere in the world. Both of these types have their advantages and disadvantages, which should be eliminated by combining them.
Advantages of hybrid events
- Much greater reach potential
Traditional events are always limited by the maximum capacity of the room. In the case of hybrid events, the potential is unlimited. In case you have a well technically supported hybrid event, an unlimited number of people can be connected to the stream. Your potential depends only on the quality of the promotion and getting the information to the guests.
- Budget savings
Budget is always the hardest and most crucial part of any event. Not only because of COVID-19, but also other unfavorable influences that occurred in 2022 and are likely to affect the event marketing in 2023, event managers will be counting every penny and looking for savings everywhere (unfortunately). So what can be saved on in a hybrid event?
- Catering, accommodation, transport
Only the most important guests are usually invited to a hybrid event. The others are connected via an online stream. Thanks to the smaller number of guests, you can save on both their refreshments and on accommodation and transport. All three of these items are a fairly significant part of the budget and the savings here are pleasing. However, it's not that simple. Compared to this saving, there are also new costs to consider which you can read about under "Increasing the technology budget".
- Room size
With fewer people, the required room capacity decreases, which leads to additional savings. What should fit in a hybrid event hall? The number of visitors you want, of course, catering, staff facilities, a stage (don’t forget to provide sufficient backstage), lights, sound equipment, presentation equipment, production (The heart of the whole hybrid event. The nest where the audiovisual team handles the online part of the event. The production has to meet quite a few criteria.). Each hybrid event is specific and will need a slightly different space, but the needs listed above are the basics.
- High-quality digital materials - even for future use
What to say. Many organizers focus on the event itself, but especially the less experienced ones may not put enough emphasis on a good quality event recording. This is important for future use in marketing communication of the company.
This is not the case with a hybrid event. The entire event from start to finish is recorded for streaming. All guests, accompanying program, moderators, etc. The entire stream is also edited in production and enhanced with necessary jingles (audio, video transitions between different parts of the program), so you can immediately upload it to social media for further promotion.
- No fear of missing precious guests
Did your important guest miss their flight or have to stay with family unexpectedly? A big problem for a classic event that can ruin the impression of the whole event. For a hybrid event, this problem is minimized. Guests only need a phone with a good connection and can join the event from virtually anywhere.
- Easier feedback thanks to modern digital tools
We must mention one disadvantage of hybrid events here and that is face-to-face communication. (We'll cover more disadvantages in a special section below.) Nothing replaces physical encounter, but thanks to modern technology we can at least minimize this drawback. For example, we can use the Slido portal, where visitors can ask hosts questions online. Thanks to modern forums, online and offline visitors can communicate together almost instantly.
The accompanying program will be appreciated by the visitors in the room with thunderous applause. Thanks to the interactive questionnaires, we can also get immediate feedback from online visitors.
- Greater potential for attracting sponsors
The more eyes, the more chances to get sponsors. Not only does this increase the potential for promotion of a given partner through views, but it also creates new advertising opportunities. The following can be used for promotion: jingles, opening and closing credits, embedded videos in the online stream, etc. This combines the advantages of TV advertising and on-site promotional materials. Data is important. The more accurate, the better, and of course the direct connectivity of the promoted subject, respectively of a service connected to the theme of the event. But hybrid events definitely give more "ammunition" to all advertising media sellers.
- Hybrid events are greener
Traveling is one of the industries that burden nature with CO2 production. Thanks to hybrid events, the need to travel is minimized. In addition to the benefits listed above, we are saving the planet which is very needed these days. At the same time, it is also a useful argument in marketing promotion of the event.
Disadvantages of hybrid events
We must not forget about the disadvantages that hybrid events have. After all, it is a combination of two quite different types of events. What disadvantages of hybrid events should we prepare for?
- Professional team required for the digital processing of online stream
For a classic event you only need a standard event team, for an online event you need a standard team to prepare the stream. In case of hybrid events, it is necessary to have both of these components. Good quality companies that can guarantee a smooth online part of the event are a dime a dozen. At Aliatrix, we work with the team at Xlab and we absolutely trust them. We understand each other very well and we are prepared for any problem that may arise.
- Less interaction between event attendees
The main advantage of "offline" events is the socialization and interaction between guests. In the case of hybrid events, interaction is maintained, but only between selected guests directly in the room. We do not say that interaction in the online world is bad, but it can’t substitute getting a coffee together, a drink, or a cigarette on a terrace. According to us, this is one of the biggest drawbacks of hybrid events (along with less emotion from the accompanying program, which we discuss a paragraph below).
- Less experience from the accompanying program for online participants
People like to have fun, and the accompanying entertainment is also the basis of any event. Take a fire show, for example. It is beautiful for the online stream viewers as well, but the feeling of those who not only see the fire, but also feel the heat in the room is much greater.
With a light show, the difference is even more striking. The final effect is very much influenced by how well the camera is synchronized with the LED equipment used in the show. In order to get the best possible result, it is necessary to have an experienced team that knows how to work together.
- Increasing the technology budget
We mentioned savings on transportation, accommodation and catering costs as a benefit. We also mentioned that unfortunately there is a downside. The budget will grow in the technology section accordingly. Professional cameras, cameramen, assistants, direction, production of jingles, technical scripting, scheduling, lighting, etc. These are all costs that are not present in classic events, or on a much smaller scale. Therefore it is necessary to calculate and evaluate if a hybrid event is really a saving.
A hybrid event can be the optimal option for many types of events. For example, conferences, product launches, corporate evaluation meetings, etc. If you start preparing a hybrid event, there are a few things to look out for. We will explain some of them to you.
- A strong internet connection
Probably the biggest trap that can happen in an online stream is a weak internet connection. Internet connection is set up for a certain amount of data, and in case of more logins than expected, the quality of the signal can decrease or the transmission can even stop entirely. And that would be a great pity. It is therefore a good idea to have a sufficient solution that will not jeopardize the stream even in case of extreme data load.
- Experienced team for both parts of the event
We mentioned this above, but it is essential that all parts of the event preparation - the "classic" the event team, the "digital" event team and the facilitators of the accompanying program, are perfectly matched and involved in all preparations together. This is the only way to ensure that nothing will not go wrong and everyone will be delighted. Previous cooperation and mutual familiarity of these teams is a great advantage.
- A detailed plan of communication with online visitors and connecting the opinions of both online and "offline" visitors
We've already mentioned the potential for an unlimited number of visitors, and it’s necessary to be well prepared for it. How will you communicate with online attendees? How will you gather their responses to questions or feedback? How will online visitors be connected with guests directly at the event? These and other questions need to be figured out to give online attendees a feeling that they are present in the room with us.
- Processing digital materials and checking all outputs
A hybrid event gives great opportunities for follow-up promotion due to large number of audiovisual materials. It is therefore good to prepare a plan for the follow-up communication before the event. This can multiply the reach of the event and get it even to people who couldn’t watch the live stream.
- Beware of the language barrier
Are you organizing an international event? Prepare for the fact that not all participants were born with language talents. For multilingual events, you can use simultaneous translation. This will ensure that everyone understands everything comfortably, so you don't have to worry if they got the point.
- Setting up cameras in relation to other technologies in the room
An experienced team will of course take care of this, but if you decide to prepare a hybrid event yourself, take great care to ensure that the cameras are set to high broadcast quality. We mean, for example, setting up the lights appropriately, or synchronizing the bit rate of the cameras and the frequency of an LED wall.
Summary and conclusion
Hybrid events are a new kind of event and from our point of view they are here to stay forever. Entirely online events don't have enough advantages to make organizers want to host them long term, but we think the hybrid ones have a lot of potential. We would certainly like to see as many physical events as possible, because we perceive socialization and communication as the biggest benefit. However, there are situations when a classic event is not possible and there is room for a new one - a hybrid event.
Going into organizing such an event on your own and arranging everything yourself has too many risks and it would probably end in disappointment. That's why we recommend relying on a professional agency that specializes in such events. Our production has experience with shows for hybrid events and in conjunction with our partner, the Xlab company, we are able to deliver even very demanding requirements.
If you liked the article, we would be very happy if you share it. Fingers crossed for your event marketing planning and we are looking forward to seeing you at events.
///// Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_event
About the author
He has been in the world of show business since 2008. He has performed in more than 700 shows on three continents. During his career, he has become the vice-champion of the Czech Republic in fire performance and represented the Czech Republic in the International Juggling Association. Since 2015 he has been an actor at the Hybernia Theater. He is also a moderator who has been through several Czech radio stations and is currently a freelance. He is co-owner of Aliatrix, where he is not only the CEO but also co-creator of some big projects.