Over the past year, event organizers have continued to resiliently adapt their events to the formats that health standards require.
First, we saw a simple transition from physical events to virtual formats, which was a lesser evil given the ban on all physical gatherings. We believe that this simple transition is not enough.
Since the relaxation of health protocols, we've been hearing about hybrids everywhere. On the surface, it's the best of both worlds: creating connection while keeping costs down, and reaching the largest number of participants while reducing the event's carbon impact.
We may be going against popular opinion, but at Digitevent we believe that hybrid will only work for certain specific types of events (detailed below).
We need to lay the groundwork and understand which formats are best suited to which events
1. 😅 Why the hybrid format does not fit all events
Cannibalization is one of the major problems of hybrid events: some participants, who would have physically attended, prefer to stay at home. Thus, it is more difficult to precisely quantify the number of registrants due to those registering to attend in-person and deciding to join online. In addition, there are a higher number of no-shows in hybrid events.
- A hybrid event is two events.
Obviously, you have to manage a multiplicity of factors when you organize a hybrid event. On the virtual side: the on-site control room, the live broadcast and recording, the moderation of the interaction platform, the realization... For example, some videoconference software asks the moderators to "accept" the participants, which can be a frustrating experience for some of the guests if there is too much waiting! On the physical side: the venue, the caterer, the organization and reception staff, the event logistics...
It is estimated that a hybrid event costs on average 1.5 to 2 times more than a physical event. In addition to these budgetary and logistical constraints, there is an obvious time constraint, since the virtual technology part must be organized and taken care of in addition to the physical project.
- The challenge of creating a unified experience
Your hybrid event must offer a consistent and enjoyable experience for all types of participants. Yet, it is difficult to create a unified and synchronized event experience across two different event formats. In addition, it can be difficult to synchronize the interactions between the on-site and virtual audiences.
2. 🎥 Which formats for which objectives?
Objectives NOT compatible with the hybrid.
You can't always have everything. For some lenses, it is better to choose one format over another. Mixing these formats is not necessarily the best solution.
Can we really say that an online animation or a zoom aperitif is the equivalent of face-to-face team-building? This type of event aims to create links and is, therefore, by definition, unsuitable for the virtual format (and even less so for the hybrid, at the risk of discriminating against one of the two groups - the virtual or the face-to-face!)
- Client lunches
Client lunches are used to establish a strong bond with your clients and to create something that is more powerful than a professional relationship. This type of event will therefore have a much harder time making an impact in virtual or hybrid formats, and will not be as effective in these formats.
- VIP meetings and events
The different types of VIPs (partners, important clients, suppliers...) will not be satisfied with a virtual event, as the VIP treatment can only be properly executed in person. The beauty of a venue, the buffets offered on-site, the service staff, and all the other services that make a VIP event so exclusive are not reproducible in a virtual environment, and therefore cannot be done in a hybrid event.
The objectives compatible with hybrid.
- Events to raise awareness
The best way to raise awareness is to communicate with the largest possible audience. Why not combine the contact of face-to-face events with the limitless reach of the virtual world? Awareness events are the perfect example of events that benefit from the hybrid format.
Networking events can benefit from the hybrid format: while face-to-face meetings are punctual, a virtual directory would be a good complementary solution to these B2B meetings.
- Creating deals
To convert your prospects into customers - or to collect leads - both formats (face-to-face and virtual) can be used together hand-in-hand.
Most of the time, the virtual format is used to provide information to and entice prospects, while the face-to-face format is used to go further in-depth and secure the deal.
- Knowledge sharing
For all knowledge-sharing events (associations, federations, congresses...), both formats are suitable. Both face-to-face and virtual formats allow sharing information in an efficient way. Moreover, the virtual format ensures that your materials (PowerPoint, videos, graphics...) are well seen by all your audience.
The best option is not always the one that offers the most delivery channels: take the best of what each format has to offer, focus on the purpose of the event separately, and don't always opt for omnichannel strategies, which can be counterproductive.