Cockapoos, Cronuts and Hybrid Events – it’s not that simple!
A cockapoo is a cross between a cocker spaniel and a poodle. A cronut is a cross between a donut and a croissant. So a hybrid event must be a cross between an in-person event and a virtual event, right?
Well, sort of but …
A key difficulty when talking about hybrid meetings is the lack of a universally accepted definition regarding what they actually are. The term is widely used in relation to any meeting, conference, congress, convention or event where in addition to the in-person element, content is streamed to a virtual audience or, indeed, captured for later on-demand access by a virtual audience.
We’ve had both the equipment and the technology to record and broadcast content beyond the in-person setting for decades; however, with no other option available to us, the pandemic made a virtue of necessity and, for over sixteen months now, we’ve been broadcasting to our heart’s content, developing our collective skill base as an industry and becoming “experts” in Eventech in the process.
We know how to connect virtually now, and we’ve proven it can be both efficient and effective, sometimes allowing us to increase our audiences, even find new ones. Attendees appreciate it too, as it fosters knowledge exchange at relatively low cost in time and money to the attendee – no travel, no destination expenses …
As we plan for post-pandemic recovery, it makes sense to hold on to the virtual piece. Take all the benefits of virtual, mix them with all the benefits of in-person and hey, presto, there’s the future of business events: the hybrid event.
But, of course, it’s not that simple at all. Experts in the field highlight the following caveats:
- A Hybrid event is essentially two events.
- At Hybrid Events, the in-Person and virtual audiences must be given equal attention.
- Hyrbid solutions only work for certain types of event.
- Hybrid solutions usually cost more.
A Hybrid Event is, essentially, two events
Julius Solaris, former owner of the world’s most read event blog, EventMB, and contributor to the virtual event we live-streamed from our virtual studio last year, highlights how a hybrid event is actually, and essentially, two events:
… planning a hybrid event is not just about planning a live event with an overlapping virtual event component; it’s about integrating the two experiences so that they are robust in their own right but connected such that one improves the other. Hybrid event design is about creating something that is greater than the sum of its parts.
It’s not sufficient to deliver the same content to the two distinct and diverse audience, rather it must be filtered specifically for each one. Obviously, this has huge implications in terms of event design and event planning and leads to the next caveat.
At Hybrid Events, the in-Person and virtual audiences must be given equal attention
CISCO has leveraged event marketing as a key element for both internal and external communication. Marketing Director, Gerd de Bruycker, had the following comment to make in relation to hybrid:
In the past, the broadcast was a “second hand” experience. Now, in the hybrid experience, the live and online components are both given the same amount of attention. They will be elements that are combined to create different experiences.
So both the in-person and the virtual audiences are given equal billing. The virtual audience cannot be a mere passive receptor of the content delivered to the in-person audience. This content must be filtered via an on-line moderator or MC who acts as an agent of interpretation for the virtual audience.
Hybrid events only work for certain types of event
Cvent is a privately held software-as-a-service company that specializes in meetings, events, and hospitality management technology. The company offers web-based software for meeting site selection, online event registration, event management, email marketing, and web surveys.
Cvent has been providing support to clients all over the world who were obliged to pivot to digital and virtual during the pandemic and are not exploring hybrid. Anna Anna Linthicum, an associate working in partner management outlines circumstances when and where hybrid events can work well:
Hybrid events are also extremely useful solutions when many of your attendees who would normally attend in-person, can’t. Below are some examples of when an attendee who normally might be on site for an event may have to attend virtually, eg, the attendee cannot or does not want to travel due to health or safety concerns, the attendee’s organization has limited travel spend and, therefore, cannot travel to the event, the venue where you will be hosting the onsite portion of the event has capacity limitations, so not all attendees will be allowed to gather onsite.
Hybrid solutions cost more
Finally, and perhaps, most importantly, hybrid solutions require a generous budget and cannot be delivered with any degree of success on a shoe-string. John George with international agency Gavel international, says “Some people assume that hybrid events are simply created by tacking a virtual component onto in-person events. However, resorting to this minimal approach would cause the virtual piece to fall flat.”
Proper planning of a hybrid meeting requires approaching it as a single event on two different platforms. Many aspects of the event, such as technology, check-in and networking, are nearly doubled in planning.For this reason, hybrid events naturally cost more than in-person or virtual events alone. That said, the benefits outweigh the additional cost.
Hybrid Conferences & Events do indeed offer the perfect solution to the challenges of time and space that, ultimately, impose limits on us as humans, tethering us to the “here and now”.
As demonstrated by our previous webinar, with hybrid I can be in the virtual studio at Croke Park, chatting with a panellist in Las Vegas, broadcasting to an live global audience with a recorded and edited version of the same content available after the fact for all to access!
But this comes at a price, if it’s to be done properly. For this reason, hybrid events defined as “full hybrid” will tend to be limited to global corporations and large associations. Virtual events, on the other hand, will continue to proliferate, not necessarily as an alternative, but in addition to in-person.
Whatever your requirements, our team at Croke Park is ready and waiting, with the flexible mindset that sets us apart! Get in touch with us now.