The Benefits of Creating Hybrid Events for Your Community
It’s hard to remember what life was really like pre-pandemic and Covid but it was a time that ushered in new ways of doing things — hosting and attending events included.
Today, as we emerge into the so-called ‘new normal’, hybrid events have become a great way of connecting with your community. But what is a hybrid event and what are the benefits of this event model?
The spring of 2020 is hard to forget. The virus had well and truly arrived in the UK, as well as in other countries, leading to weeks of lockdown and shutdown. It will leave a lasting legacy in many aspects of life.
How brands interact, connect and engage with their community also looks different. Hybrid events are a popular tool for doing just that.
What is a hybrid event?
Before the pandemic, there were things called in-person events. Shows and events were hosted in various locations, from the cavernous halls of events centres such as the Southbank Centre, London to small gatherings in local community hubs.
Lockdown made us all think differently, and that included brands and how they reached out and maintained connections with their communities. During lockdown, events were hosted exclusively online but today, with restrictions easing, hybrid events are the go-to tool.
A hybrid event is, as the name suggests, both a physical and online event, where people can participate simultaneously in-person and online, from different locations.
The benefits of hybrid events
There are many reasons why you should consider hosting a hybrid event:
01. They increase your potential audience size
Every event centre has a maximum capacity. But with Covid restrictions in place, there are further limits to in-person events. Although many of these restrictions have now been eased, there is no guarantee that they won’t return.
With a hybrid event, your audience is potentially limitless. The online stream can be as big as a platform could cope with and that means your potential audience is larger than you think.
02. Improved engagement rates
All good hybrid events — that is, well-planned and well-hosted ones — offer audiences opportunities to interact with the event.
When people are engaged, they are more likely to enjoy an event and that means better feedback. Meaning they’ll be talking to other people about your brand, products and services, whether that is word of mouth or online on social media and other forums.
03. Lower costs too
With in-person events, there is the cost of hiring the venue, administering the event, as well as refreshment costs and other fees that you may need to pay. For hybrid events, the costs are lower. Essentially, it is the physical costs that are lower such as a small venue rather than a large event centre, catering costs and so on.
04. Post-event recording
Maximise the impact of a hybrid event by offering participants a recording of the event. This allows the information to be disseminated wider and for longer, as well as continuing to reach new audiences.
05. More accessible
Travel can be expensive, likewise attending an in-person event can mean a whole day out of the office. If an in-person event doesn’t feel like it has delivered on expectations, it can feel like a monumental waste of time and money.
Every brand needs to be aware of efficiencies, including time and budget. There is also the issue of sustainability — does travelling across the country fit a brand’s sustainability promise?
Hybrid events are inclusive and thus, more accessible. They allow people to engage with others, with a brand and so on, how and when they want to, as a result, they can feel less confronting.
How much do hybrid events cost to host?
As with all in-person meetings, there are costs associated with hosting this style of event. Hiring a professional audio-visual team is fantastic, if your budget allows, because it gives your event a professional edge.
But, if your event is split into smaller groups with many things happening at once, costs will increase. There are things you can do to keep costs under control:
- Zoom — a reliable platform, you can use Zoom on your phone or laptop with your audience joining and leaving as it suits them.
- Invest in basic but essential equipment — a laptop stand or camera tripod will keep your viewing equipment steady, giving your online audience an improved viewing experience. Lighting is also a great investment, along with a basic course on how to use equipment so you get great results.
- Sound — as well as a great viewing experience, you need your online audience to be able to hear what is going on. Laptop and mobile microphones are good, but they won’t isolate the human voice. Background noise from rustling paper to white noise can mean the spoken word is lost. Invest in high-quality microphones with Bluetooth connectivity and you minimise noise interference. For some users, captions on-screen make hybrid events even more accessible and inclusive.
- Consider a good quality digital camera — if you plan on hosting several hybrid events now and in the future, it makes sense to get a store of equipment. And that means investing in a good digital camera. Hybrid events are not just about the live experience but a good quality recording as well.
Hybrid events and sustainabilit
According to Meet Green, one conference delegate attending a day event will generate 1.89kg of waste, of which just over a kilogram will end up on landfill. Then there are the impacts of travel to consider…
As a brand, if you are committed to making a difference to our planet, hybrid events are a great solution:
- They reduce emissions because fewer delegates travel to an event. This saves even more carbon emissions if people are no longer travelling to events abroad.
- Fewer resources, such as paper and printing, are used. Everything can be moved online, with attendees accessing information via QR codes, shared docs or a dedicated event website or app.
- Merchandise is a big contributor to landfill. Freebies such as pens and notepads are not the only way of getting your brand in front of people.
- With hybrid events, there is less food and drink waste too. And if you are supplying refreshments to a small number at your event, use local food suppliers and recyclable food packaging.
Hybrid events are here!
Hybrid events may have been given a boost by the recent lockdowns, but there were suggestions prior to this that this was the way to go. Inclusive, cost-effective and accessible, hybrid events are here — and here to stay!
Let’s chat about how we can build a sustainable hybrid event programme for your community. Head to senseandforum.com