Event profs have heard it time and time again: hybrid events are the way of the future in the events industry. They’ve risen from relative anonymity to stardom in 2020. Two years later, they are one of the most important event trends of 2022. However, many event planners still ask: what are the benefits of hybrid events?
Hybrid events vary based on the number of virtual and in-person attendees, the number of venues, synchronous versus asynchronous content delivery, and many more variables. Therefore, each hybrid event model comes with its own set of unique perks and considerations. However, there are some core characteristics that all hybrid events have in common.
Hybrid events offer the best of both worlds: the immersive magic of traditional in-person gatherings and the data insights of modern digital events. When built upon innovative event technology solutions, they can drive more value for stakeholders, sponsors, exhibitors, and attendees alike. Let’s explore!
Hybrid Events Are More Sustainable
The in-person event industry creates a massive amount of CO2 emissions. Traveling, catering, lodging, waste – we have to admit physical events don’t contribute much to keeping our planet healthy.
Additionally, many people believe that companies and businesses are just as responsible for positive change as national governments. Sustainability is more than a trend; it’s an important value that has turned into almost a moral imperative to pay attention to.
The single biggest thing event planners can do to make their events more sustainable is go virtual. Virtual events require no travel, and traveling is the biggest contributor to an event’s overall carbon footprint. Since hybrid events also have a virtual component, they also have a lower environmental impact overall. Additionally, planners can host hybrid events in several smaller venues in areas where their audience lives. That way, in-person attendees don’t need to travel across the country to attend but stay within their own region or state.
Delight Your Sponsors & Exhibitors
Sponsors and exhibitors can also greatly benefit from hybrid events. The pandemic revealed just how much sponsors and exhibitors suffer when in-person attendance is low. Virtual booths, on the other hand, do not offer the immersive experiences that exhibitions at in-person events do.
However, the virtual realm offers many other opportunities for sponsors and exhibitors. And if planners choose to keep the event platform after the event, they can continue driving value even after the hybrid event itself:
- infinite branding and marketing opportunities on the event platform,
- opportunity for year-round sponsorship,
- higher quality lead generation,
- granular data insights into attendee behavior,
- sponsored gamified challenges that drive engagement,
- and more!
As hybrid events cover both the in-person and the virtual ground, the value for sponsors and exhibitors, too, can double. Data is event planner’s best friend. Thanks to event platforms, sponsors can measure brand awareness through booth traffic reports, measure engagement on sponsored content, and get information about attendees who did not stop by their booths, but might be interested in their product based on what sessions they attended.
One of the most important things event planners learned in the times of event planning during COVID-19, it’s that uncertain times call for higher flexibility. If planners choose to plan hybrid events, it’s much easier to pivot to virtual-only if a crisis strikes than it would be if they planned an in-person gathering. Flexibility is, therefore, one of the biggest benefits of hybrid events, and it touches many areas:
- planners can choose an original and more unique venue than a hotel ballroom,
- attendees have more autonomy in choosing how they want to interact with the event and how much they spend (increased inclusivity and diversity),
- minimized risk and accountability for spreading COVID-19,
- the ability for both planners and attendees to pivot last-minute to virtual attendance in case of a (health) emergency,
- increased flexibility translates to higher budget flexibility and lowers financial risks.
On that note, the bigger the in-person event, the more budget it will require and less flexible it can be. However, the virtual component also means some additional costs, such as live streaming and an event platform. However, the latter two can do wonders for your event ROI.
To elaborate further, hybrid events can be far more accessible, wallet-friendly, and inclusive than their in-person counterparts. Some individuals might prefer to tune in virtually; be it because they struggle with social anxiety, they prefer to stay unnoticed, or they hate flashing lights and fog machines. Additionally, hybrid events can better support people with disabilities.
Because they’re so flexible, hybrid events can vary greatly from one another. While some can be produced in studios and have very few in-person attendees, others take place in several regional hubs at once.
Increased Audience Reach
Increased audience reach is yet another benefit of hybrid events that is inextricably linked to its higher flexibility and accessibility. Virtual attendees need only an electronic device and internet to join your event, which means planners can easily attract attendees from all over the world in almost unlimited numbers. And the more attendees join, the lower the cost per attendee.
Additionally, planners can use captioning and translation services to break any potential language barriers, especially if a significant portion of attendees speaks a particular foreign language. In turn, this can foster a higher sense of trust and loyalty to your brand.
The Benefits Of Hybrid Events Increase Your Event ROI
All the above-mentioned benefits of hybrid events culminate in an opportunity to increase your event ROI. To a large extent, the higher ROI stems from the implementation of an event platform. Event platforms allow you to:
- build anticipation prior to the event and check-in with the attendees after the event,
- plan smaller follow-up virtual events,
- repurpose your content and offer it on-demand,
- higher engagement levels through live polling, Q&As, gamified challenges, etc.
- data insights that allow you to closely monitor whether you’ve reached your event goals,
- give more value to your sponsors and increase your sponsorship revenue,
- unlimited advertising opportunities and brand visibility.
Hybrid events are a fairly new reality in the events industry and many planners are yet to fully grasp all the benefits of hybrid events. As explained, these are the most important reasons why you should plan hybrid events:
- they are more environmentally friendly,
- hybrid events offer more flexibility for attendees and event planners,
- planners can offer more valuable opportunities to event sponsors and exhibitors,
- hybrid events can have a global reach,
- enjoy a higher ROI.
Hybrid events can be particularly successful if they’re an integral part of your overall event strategy that centers around your community. Many event marketers are waking up to the vast potential of the community model. Those who will implement it successfully will no doubt emerge thought leaders. Are you in?
And finally, hybrid events require teamwork. Lean on your trusted event partners to bring your vision to life and meet your event goals. As an event management company, Endless Events has produced and managed many hybrid events, all of them a huge success. So, if you’re looking for a hybrid event partner, reach out! As always, our team is here to help.