Face-to-face events are back with a brand new look. While the value of attending an event in-person has certainly not decreased, going hybrid has fast been accepted as the future of events - and for good reason.
As the happy medium, hybrid events combine the best of developing traditional face-to-face connections with the opportunity to connect and network with industry experts and influencers from around the world. Technological advances have not only opened the doors to a wider audience, but have enabled event managers to deliver greater personalised experiences to all attendees.
Hybrid events are the way of the future. Take a look at the impact hybrid events have had on the industry, and the many benefits this combined delivery can offer.
Future events embrace innovation
Previously limited in terms of how presentations were undertaken, speakers can now choose to combine virtual elements into their presentations. Gone are the days limited to wandering back and forth across a stage - online polls and live Q&A time can be implemented into speaker presentations, adding an extra layer of engagement while giving virtual attendees a greater sense of inclusivity. These advancements in gamification give both in-person and virtual attendees greater incentives to stay engaged, while providing a creative avenue for break times and networking.
Rather than being restricted by topics or discussion points, panel presentations can now consist of viewpoints from both in-person speakers and relevant counterparts from around the world. This results in an overall improved quality of presentation, with attendees able to gain more well-rounded insights.
Founder of Endless Events, & event industry influencer, Will Curran believes the future of events is all about fusing together technology, content, and community.
"I think there’s a new generation of planners that are now emerging from the pandemic and are more technologically savvy than ever. I would love to see technology really continue to get infused into events and that’s where I see it changing. At the moment, I think a lot of the industry is afraid of technology because of Murphy’s Law and the potential that things could go wrong.
I also see in the future that our events are going to become about having a really deep experience - generic experiences aren’t going to fly anymore. People are going to say “why should I go to this when I have this opportunity to go to this really high quality, rich, amazing experience that’s designed down to the detail.”
As technology continues to improve, it’s going to become easier and easier to communicate virtually. Whether that’s augmented reality or virtual reality, or just the constant improvement of cameras and audio quality, I think that’s a big future for us. There’s going to be a common place for more and more people to want to meet online potentially before they meet in person. Maybe even the ability to attend events virtually with a deeper experience like virtual reality, for example."
Lower operational costs
By attracting a larger virtual audience while capping the number of in-person attendees, event managers can effectively seek smaller venues, while cutting costs associated with food, beverages, accommodation, and entertainment. By going completely digital with signage, invitations, and even BEOs, these costs can be further reduced.
On the virtual side, the right event management software will gather data such as attendee numbers, session attendees, average viewing time, feedback, and other essential information that can be used for future planning. For event managers, having a single portal of operation in which they can effectively manage all event logistics is not only convenient - it can also be the key to lowering overheads, limiting the need for extra on-site staff, and administration duties.
Greater revenue potential
Through automated email campaigns, digital signage, app advertising and online exhibitor booths, a virtual environment can open the doors to a range of new advertising opportunities that may have previously been unavailable. This gives event managers extra avenues to increase revenue potential, while providing attendees with new opportunities to engage with sponsors and industry vendors.
An increasing global audience
By opening the doors to the internet, a hybrid event removes barriers of accessibility, paving the way for a whole new audience. No longer bound by restrictions of time or location, attendees can connect from anywhere in the world, having the opportunity to learn and network with international colleagues.
What this also means for event managers is an increased opportunity to improve the quality of an event program. Globally renowned keynote speakers can be live-streamed and available to engage with the audience in real time. Additionally, hybrid events can also include pre-recorded presentations - a functional asset to have on hand especially for in-demand speakers, last-minute program changes, or in cases of technical issues.
More digital resources
By providing attendees with a digital resource library of all program speaker recordings, additional downloadable materials, and a copy of any contacts made throughout the event (subject to privacy agreements), hybrid events also give attendees the opportunity to engage with the event, long after it has taken place. This is great news for event managers, and a key foundation for retaining attendees.
Want to know more?
If you’re interested in finding out more about the future of events, check out our infographic on the latest sector trends.