Time provides perspective. In 2012 I was asked for responses to questions that Mash Media had on hybrid events. Basically they were putting together an article on these events, which at the time were few and far between.
Eight years and one Covid crisis later and hybrid events are now prominently part of the events landscape.
In looking at my hybrid event articles archive, I thought it would be useful to publish my answers to their questions, especially as the subject is even more relevant today. Here were the questions and my responses.
Are Hybrid Events Becoming more Popular? Do you see them Overtaking the Traditional Conference Format at any Point in the Future?
I think that event planners are becoming more familiar with the concept of hybrid events and in fact some have been delivering hybrid events for a while now without actually realising it. Hybrid events could become popular but it all depends on the specific objectives of the event as to whether a hybrid format is the one to be used.
I don’t see hybrid events as being a competitor to other events already on our landscape but more as another format for events. In my opinion there will always be a place for traditional conferences and not all events should or need to become hybrid.
Is There any Opposition in the Industry to Hybrid Events?
Yes I think there is some opposition and some event planners immediately hone in on the issue of cost and will the technology work before examining whether the hybrid event format could be useful for them.
There is also an idea that the numbers of onsite physical event participants will reduce if the event is made available to online participants. But, in my experience this hasn’t proven to be the case.
Why do you Think Hybrid has Become more Popular in the Last Few Years?
The economy has certainly played a major part in the way that events are now considered and produced. This along with other key issues such as time out of the office, the impact on the environment and the development of some technologies being produced at in some cases very low cost have all become drivers in considering using a hybrid event format.
What do Organisers Need to Consider Before Choosing Hybrid for their Events?
As always; event organisers should always have the number one question of ‘what are the event objectives’ at the top of their minds and then the question becomes ‘and does the hybrid event format support the objectives or detract from them’ and once that key question is answered then the normal ‘event planning’ considerations kick in.
What are the Benefits of Hybrid Events?
Hybrid events can extend your audience reach (particularly useful for public events), they can also create engagement amongst the event community, they can save organisations time and money by allowing online participants to take part in the event without the usual costs of travel and accommodation expenses. Hybrid events can help with sustainability practices by not encouraging the travel of all participants.
NEW – You can also read our blog post on the Benefits of Hybrid events for more information.
What are the Main Challenges?
There is definitely more complexity when it comes to producing a hybrid event. After all there are two audiences to deliver to and that creates more demands than just having one audience.
There are challenges in making sure that the whole team including speakers understand that there is an audience outside the room (online attendees) as well as the audience that can be seen inside the room (onsite attendees).
Do you Think Hybrid is Something that will be Adopted by More and More Venues as Times goes on?
I think venues will need to understand what is being asked when an event planner has an enquiry for a hybrid event. The venue will need to be clear on what they can and cannot offer to ensure the hybrid event is a success.
How much space do they have, what is their capacity for internet connectivity and do they have the right room(s) for such events? These are just a few of the initial questions that venues will need to answer.
How do you Define a Hybrid Event?
A hybrid event is one in which onsite (physical) delegates and online (remote) delegates are bought together to participate in the same event. Effectively the people in the room and outside the room are connected which allows for a number of activities which can include; learning, sharing, networking and entertaining.
The Biggest Question Remains
Taking a trip down memory lane was interesting. And whilst some of the language I used has changed, I wanted to discover if organisations are asking the same questions today about hybrid events as they were back in 2012? My conclusion is that in large part the questions are very similar today. Some questions remain the same and a couple of new ones have emerged. But, there are a couple of key points worth noting.
The beneficial impact that hybrid events have on climate impact is now much more obvious. This can only be good news as we are all aware of the massive damage to the planet that is happening. Using hybrid and virtual events to help reduce the impact can only be positive.
But, the key issue (as it was in 2012) has to be, what is the reason for the event. It doesn’t matter if it is an in-person, virtual or hybrid event. Why is it needed and what are the objectives? That really is the most important question of all.
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