Hybrid Events

Hybrid Events

Introduction

This could rightly be called “the year of the hybrid,” as more brands add virtual components to expand, enhance and increase the success of their physical event programs. The hybrid model, which combines physical events with a virtual component, offers brand marketers a win-win event, as it combines the face-to-face interaction of a live, physical event with the convenience, cost savings and expanded reach and interactivity of virtual technology.

Everywhere you look, whether in the boardroom or the local wifi café, people are texting, tweeting and filming their thoughts and opinions. The explosion of social and networking technology adoption has exceeded all expectations and become just a part of life for millions. It is no surprise then that the world of event marketing has also been transformed by these technologies – with more and more events now combining online and offline elements.

Case Studies

New Revenue Streams, Qualified Leads Dominate Business Priorities

According to the Event Marketing Institute (EMI), 80 percent of marketing executives surveyed say their top business priority is generating new revenue; more than one-third gave top billing to generating new leads. Increasing event attendance, awareness and reducing costs are also priorities for over 50% of those surveyed.

Hybrid events, leveraging virtual event technology, can play a key role in achieving all of these goals.

As the economy shifts emphasis from cost control to revenue and attendance growth, leading organizations have recognized that creating hybrid events can dramatically increase event attendance and leverage existing event investments by engaging online audiences and archiving content that would otherwise be lost for educational and revenue generating purposes. In fact, some hybrid and virtual events have actually delivered higher knowledge and learning scores than their physical counterparts could alone.

As a result, event marketers have an unparalleled opportunity to further innovate within existing event marketing strategies and tactics by using virtual events to maximize the impact of their existing physical events. Virtual events have already become an important complement to expand the reach and effectiveness of many physical event marketing programs. Forty percent of marketing executives surveyed by EMI said they are already employing hybrid events, defined as an event with both virtual and physical components.

An Opportunity to Educate

Virtual event platform providers have a prime opportunity to educate event marketers about how to most effectively plan, execute and measure virtual events and integrate the technology into their existing physical event programs. In particular, there is an opportunity to help brands establish more appropriate metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), since one of the key benefits of hosting or participating in a virtual event is the attendee performance and behavioral data that can be collected and analyzed. By leading this education process, virtual event providers can allay existing misperceptions and work with brand marketers to demonstrate how physical events can become more compelling and effective when coupled with a virtual component.

Read about Best Practices for your Hybrid Events.

This could rightly be called “the year of the hybrid,” as

more brands add virtual components to expand, enhance and increase

the success of their physical event programs. The hybrid model, which combines

physical events with a virtual component, offers brand marketers a win-win event,

as it combines the face-to-face interaction of a live, physical event with the convenience,

cost savings and expanded reach and interactivity of virtual technology.

 

Everywhere you look, whether in the boardroom or the local wifi café, people

are texting, tweeting and filming their thoughts and opinions. The explosion of

social and networking technology adoption has exceeded all expectations and

become just a part of life for millions. It is no surprise then that the world of

event marketing has also been transformed by these technologies – with more

and more events now combining online and offline elements.

 

New Revenue Streams, Qualified Leads

Dominate Business Priorities

 

According to the Event Marketing Institute’s latest research, 80 percent of marketing executives surveyed

say their top business priority is generating new revenue; more than one-third

gave top billing to generating new leads. Increasing event attendance,

awareness and reducing costs are also priorities for over 50% of those

surveyed.

 

Virtual event technology can play a key role in achieving these all of these goals.

Media and Associations are finding new revenue streams and generating leads

for their members and sponsors.

 

As the economy shifts emphasis

from cost control to revenue and attendance growth, leading organizations have

recognized that creating hybrid events can dramatically increase event attendance

and leverage existing event investments by engaging online audiences and

archiving content that would otherwise be lost for educational and revenue generating

purposes. In fact, some hybrid and virtual events have actually delivered

higher knowledge and learning scores than their physical counterparts could alone.

 

As a result, event marketers have an unparalleled opportunity to further innovate

within existing event marketing strategies and tactics by using virtual events

to maximize the impact of their existing physical events. Virtual events have already

become an important complement to expand the reach and effectiveness

of many physical event marketing programs. Forty percent of marketing executives

surveyed by EMI said they are already employing hybrid events, defined

as an event with both virtual and physical components.

 

In addition,

half of the executives surveyed said the reason they would consider conducting

virtual events is to expand the reach of an existing event. Event marketers currently using virtual events are most satisfied with the

cost savings they create. Over 50% of marketers surveyed by EMI say the

cost savings realized by their virtual events are good to excellent. In addition,

more than half of event marketers say that both the overall attendee

experience and satisfaction with their virtual events and the resulting

positive change in the perception and preference for their brand are good.

 

An Opportunity to Educate

 

Virtual event platform providers a prime opportunity to

educate event marketers about how to most effectively plan, execute and measure

virtual events and integrate the technology into their existing physical event

programs. In particular, there is an opportunity to help brands establish more appropriate

metrics and KPIs since one of the key benefits of hosting or participating

in a virtual event is the attendee performance and behavioral data that can be

collected and analyzed. By leading this education process, virtual event providers

can allay existing misperceptions and work with brand marketers to demonstrate

how physical events can become more compelling and effective when coupled

with a virtual component.

 

Hybrid Event Best Practices

 

1. Establish & Document Event Objectives

Strategy is critical to hybrid success therefore you must clearly define your objectives

and metrics upfront. The internal dialogue among key stakeholders should

answer such questions as: Is your organization’s goal to cut costs or create incremental

revenue? Are you trying to expand your audience or better serve your

best customers?

 

In fact, the more you know about your audience, the more successful your hybrid

event will be. Rather than focusing on the technology bells and whistles, focus on

your audience’s comfort level and access to virtual technology. Accurate targeting

begins by asking questions such as: How tech-savvy is your audience? How important

is online delivery to them? How price sensitive are they? You can’t just build

a hybrid event and expect your audience to come. Throw your assumptions out

the window and instead find out as much as you can about their business needs.

Conduct prospect and customer surveys during the event planning process to

help you create an event experience that is technically appropriate, yet engages

and delights your audience at the same time. By understanding why people come

to your physical events you can begin to understand why they would participate

in a complementary virtual event.

 

2. Design

Virtual events require as much thought, planning and effort as a physical event

on the front end. Event managers still need to develop relevant content, book

keynote and session speakers, sell floor space and manage booth staff. As a result,

you need to engage all appropriate hybrid event team members early on,

including creative, AV production and technology partners. Build in enough planning

time for these teams to work together. Hybrid events are a relatively new

marketing tactic. As such, allow ample time for dealing with any unforeseen issues

such as technology compatibility. To ensure proper staffing, you’ll also need to

assign enough staff to cover your physical and virtual events separately. Don’t

expect staff to monitor both venues simultaneously.

 

3. Train Speakers to Ensure Execution Excellence

The quality of your virtual content will make or break your hybrid event. But don’t

expect speakers to just “show up” and deliver a compelling presentation – even

if they are dynamic face-to-face presenters – if they are not adequately trained,

engaged, comfortable and technically supported. For webinar-style events, coach

speakers about how to engage their audiences – especially if they’ve never led a

virtual session before. Show speakers how to use their virtual tools by providing

a speaker orientation session or program using the virtual platform. This will allow

your speakers to see first-hand what the virtual attendee experience will be.

 

4. Create an Integrated Virtual/Physical Experience

While a hybrid event consists of both physical and virtual components, don’t

overemphasize one over the other. In other words, promote one event brand.

By seamlessly integrating both public and private technologies, you can blend

the experience for both your online and physical event attendees and create an

experience that brings the two events together. For example, enable virtual attendees

to view and interact with physical attendees via a live webcam.

 

5. Maximize Hybrid Event Impact With a Post-show Content Plan

You can delight audiences with free content, as well as plan how to monetize and

leverage deeper, archived content long after your live hybrid events are over. To

do so requires an organizational paradigm shift from marketing a single event

to marketing an integrated content distribution channel that connects people

with similar interests and goals and then allows them to share and add their

own knowledge and perspective. Taking this type of long-term approach creates

greater brand awareness and loyalty.