HYBRID EVENTS ARE THE NEW NORMAL: WHAT THAT MEANS FOR YOU
With the increasing rollout of vaccinations and the gradual removal of restrictions, people are enjoying the prospect of adapting to a more normal life. One of the highlights of this for many people is greater in-person interactions and a return to in-person events. However, the reality is that the COVID-19 pandemic will have a lasting effect. While there will certainly be a return to traditional events, the new normal is likely to be the fact that there will not be a true normal.
In-person events are certainly being planned; however, virtual events are here to stay for many reasons including convenience and accessibility. Additionally, perhaps the biggest trend going forward in a post-COVID world will be hybrid events. These events combine the best of both worlds and allow greater options for attendees. Let’s take a look at why hybrid events will be the new normal and how you can ensure your hybrid event is a success.
Why Will Hybrid Events Continue?
There are a number of reasons why hybrid events will be common going forward. First, it is important to consider each person’s comfort level. While vaccinations are becoming more accessible, there will still be people who are not comfortable being in close proximity to others. Additionally, some people simply are unable to obtain a vaccine due to other health conditions. Being able to attend virtually will be important for these people.
Another consideration is the fact that virtual events provide greater accessibility. In particular, events that would traditionally require travel expenses can be delivered virtually to some attendees, saving them or their organization important money. Providing a virtual option for your event allows you to open it up to people who may not have been able to attend otherwise due to economic reasons.
Additionally, some people simply prefer a virtual option. There is something to be said about attending an event virtually from the comfort of your home or office. It also provides an opportunity to multi-task or be more efficient in utilizing down time between sessions. Another option is that people can engage in the aspects of an event most valuable to them while opting to spend their other time on other tasks during different portions.
Considerations for Hybrid Events
While hybrid events will be the preferred format for many people, they also do bring some interesting considerations for organizations planning them. For example, planning hybrid events means putting extra effort into the planning. How will events be broadcast for those attending virtually to ensure high quality video and audio? Even after over a year with virtual events, shifting to hybrid events will bring about new considerations for logistics.
Perhaps the most important consideration for planning a hybrid event is how to ensure that virtual attendees are engaged. The last thing anyone wants is to feel like an afterthought simply because they are attending virtually. After all, you don’t want your event to come across as a webinar. You want the virtual audience to feel just as engaged and valued as those attending in person. Encouraging components such as live tweeting can enhance engagement while adding things like special behind the scenes tours or video segments for virtual attendees can make them feel special. Additionally, having virtual breakout rooms for discussions can be valuable.
Another concern is to ensure inclusivity. With hybrid events, there are considerations for your virtual audience including things like ensuring visuals have large fonts with color contrast and clear language. Additionally, ensuring that the presenters understand there are people attending virtually and ensuring to include them in their presentations is an important way to improve the experience.
An interesting consideration is how to best create value for your sponsors or exhibitors. Determining ways to promote sponsor and exhibitor visibility with the virtual crowd at hybrid events can increase engagement by those attending remotely as well as help satisfying sponsors. Consider a virtual showcase where virtual attendees can view information about exhibitors and sign up for more info on products or services they are interested in. Encouraging random drawing giveaways to virtual attendees can also help with this connection.
Ultimately, the future of event planning will likely include many hybrid events, which has many benefits but also largely requires planning two events at once in many ways. For those wanting to ensure that both in-person and virtual attendees have a great experience, contacting the live event professionals at Virtual Creative Studios will allow you to leverage their knowledge and skill to ensure your virtual guests don’t miss out on the live experience.
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