Why Hybrid Events Will Last
A recent panel discussion hosted by BizBash and EventsAIR covered the industry’s transition to the hybrid model. Here are the key takeaways.
With the events industry in a state of transition from virtual back to in person, many planners and organizers are wondering how to make that successful leap into the future.
BizBash and EventsAIR recently hosted a panel discussion, titled “Navigating Hybrid Events: What We Can Learn From Years of Experience,” that featured experienced event pros including David Adler, chairman and founder of BizBash; Trevor Gardiner, CEO of Centium Software and creator of events management software EventsAIR; Phil Hargis, senior director of The Webster Group; Victoria Moser, managing director of Girls in Tech Miami; and Kirsty Forbes, board director of Meetings and Events Australia.
Here are some key takeaways from the conversation regarding hybrid events, including the benefits of the model and why these types of events are the future of the industry.
Kirsty Forbes, board director of Meetings and Events Australia, said that she believes hybrid events can give event planners and organizations the confidence to start meeting again. For example, if a state or region goes into lockdown or has restrictions again, “then you do have that hybrid event as a supporting tool that those attendees are still able to attend and go to that event if something like that was to happen at the last minute,” she said.
Phil Hargis, senior director of The Webster Group, echoed that sentiment, saying that “having a hybrid component to your event also gives you a great backup plan should people have a hard time getting there in person.”
Plus, according to a live poll conducted during the panel discussion, 57% of the attendees thought that hybrid events increase the confidence levels in attendees as well.
As we’ve seen with virtual events, hybrid events can also translate into a bigger audience and more money. Victoria Moser, managing director of the Miami chapter of Girls in Tech, said that the organization’s biggest challenge has been mainly attrition. “I think that’s due to the lack of connection that you normally have with an in-person event. I think that connection is the main way of cultivating a local community,” she said. “But I think platforms like EventsAIR that can handle both in-person and virtual event management are very important and very valuable for navigating this new hybrid environment that we are having to adapt to.”
Adding that, “I think that as a local chapter we would like to stay hybrid because, as a global organization, the local chapter is here to serve the local community. But it will be amazing to be able to also serve the global community by having virtual events.”
“There are a lot of theories around how hybrid events will evolve going forward. And certainly, one of the big theories is attendance numbers will grow when there’s a solid in-person event as a core,” said Trevor Gardiner, CEO of Centium Software. “And then there’s the virtual event sitting as a satellite of the in-person event or a virtual event sitting around this core. The logic is that that model will be very successful.”
For example, Meetings and Events Australia’s annual conference, Evolve 2021, is set to take place in July in Melbourne, as well as online. “We really want it to be that face-to-face event and everyone to come back together,” Forbes said. “But what we’re trying to say to our members and to the audience is that we understand that not everybody is comfortable to do that, so whilst we’d love to have the 100% face-to-face attendance, we’re now looking at probably about 60% to 70% face to face. We’re running two satellite hubs in our major regions in Sydney and Brisbane, and then we’re also having the virtual component as well because we are looking to attract a new audience from New Zealand and internationally.”
She added that the hybrid solution has “opened up a new revenue stream for us and a new audience in regard to our association.”
“I’m seeing a lot of trends where the event is not really defined anymore as the two days in the venue, but it’s defined as a three-month or a one-month period that is pre and post the actual live content component of the event,” Gardiner shared. “So that’s great for sponsors and for exhibitors because they get a much longer exposure time. It’s also great for viral marketing because if I can engage people in the early stages before my live content starts, I’ve got a really good chance of amplifying that message out into the industry to attract more attendees.”
Both Adler and Gardiner discussed the idea of building trust between event organizers and attendees and among attendees themselves, which a hybrid model can help foster. “It’s really creating that trust early on so that when the actual event, when the content is being delivered, there’s already relationships between people, even if they’re virtual and they’re in person. Those relationships already exist, so it’s a much better experience.”
Hargis added that “the engagement continues long after an event, which is really great in the hybrid world.”
To watch the webinar, register here
EventsAIR has been at the forefront of Event Technology and Innovation for over 30 years, continually pushing the boundaries of what an event management platform can do. Built by event planners for event planners, EventsAIR is a secure, scalable, cloud-based solution that can manage everything from in-person, virtual to hybrid conferences, meetings and events in a single online platform – anywhere, anytime and on any device. In use in over 50 countries by multi-national corporations, professional conference organizers, government departments and tertiary education institutions, EventsAIR is also used in global congresses such as G20, APEC, CHOGM and ASEAN, as well as sporting events like The Olympic Games, World Rugby, Commonwealth Games and Pan Am Games. EventsAIR is trusted by event professionals around the globe. For further information, visit www.eventsair.com