Muhammad Younas is the CEO at vFairs, a leading global virtual events platform. With over 13 years of experience in the software space, Younas has conceptualized and grown multiple highly profitable B2B SaaS businesses reaching millions of users around the world.
A Modern Approach to Understanding Hybrid Events
In a recent survey by vFairs, event industry experts were asked what they believed to be the dominant event format long-term: virtual, hybrid or in-person events. Thirty-nine percent of respondents replied that they will be hosting hybrid events going forward. This was the most popular answer, as compared to a 4.5% response of “in-person only” and a 7.5% response of “virtual only.” The remaining respondents plan to use a mix of all event formats.
This may seem unsurprising. Hybrid events have been the talk of the industry over the last two years. But for many event professionals, the word “hybrid” incites fear and anxiety.
Many believe that hybrid events involve many complex processes and double the workload. Planners with small teams believe hybrid events cannot fit into their events plan because they just do not have the human resources to manage everything. Even teams who can handle it understand that many things could go wrong at the same time, both in-person and online.
The truth is that the large and complicated productions people visualize aren't the only way to conduct hybrid events. In fact, we believe that there are three different formats that organizations can leverage to suit their goals, resources and comfort levels.
Let's explore these formats to better understand how your hybrid events can be manageable and create exceptional audience experiences.
For event planners, putting extra effort into hosting a hybrid event, even with a next-level, life-like experience, can be challenging. However, with light hybrid events, you can embrace the required digitization for your event while keeping your resources conserved.
This format allows your event to be hosted at a physical venue while being live streamed to a virtual audience. All that’s required is some A/V equipment onsite and a space to stream to your audience, like ReStream or YouTube.
A light hybrid event focuses on integrating touch points without exhausting capital. It only demands a basic setup from the virtual point of view. In order to ensure higher audience engagement, Q&A participation can occur by a physical audience present at the seminar and the virtual attendees via social media platforms or chat boxes.
This is perfect for a smaller team that wants to share their event presentations with a global audience!
Sometimes you want the full in-person and online experience, but do not feel prepared to manage them simultaneously. This is where sequential hybrid events shine.
In a sequential hybrid event, the physical event happens at a different time than the virtual event. To keep the event organizers' effort sustainable, content exhibitors and sponsorships remain the same for physical and virtual events regardless of the time frames.
A sequential hybrid event does not support cross-networking to save both events from complexities. However, if people meet in-person, they can choose to reconnect online once the virtual aspect of the event starts up.
Attendees get many more opportunities to network and participate in this type of event, especially when supported by an onsite mobile event application.
Complex hybrid events are your quintessential hybrid event.
Unlike light and sequential events, complex hybrid events allow physical and virtual events to happen simultaneously. Your content, exhibitors and sponsors remain the same during this event. A complex hybrid event comes with multiple cross-networking touchpoints between in-person and online attendees. They also offer an online mirror to what on-site attendees are experiencing, so that both audiences feel immersed in the event.
Touchpoints between in-person and online attendees can be established through the use of a virtual event platform and a mobile event app. Attendees can search and start chats with each other, regardless of how they’re joining, and take part in the same presentations, polls, Q&As and more.
With the support of a great platform and a good team, complex hybrid events are extremely beneficial to organizations that are prepared for it.
Getting familiar with different hybrid event dimensions can help you see better results. A successfully executed hybrid event, be it light, sequential or complex, is necessary for the growing demand for the unique customer journey. Moreover, it strengthens customer relationships and has a long-term business impact.