It’s the question on everyone’s minds, and the Brew Crew is here to answer – what is a hybrid event? Sure, superficially it might seem easy to understand. But we want to go deeper than just your standard Oxford Dictionary definition. What makes hybrid events great? Why are they so important? And what can planners do to create a successful hybrid experience in a world where these types of events are gaining enormous momentum?
That’s exactly what Will Curran, Thuy Diep, and Nick Borelli are bringing to the table on today’s episode of Event Brew. As per usual, our incredible hosts are ready to have a candid filter-free conversation about the topic. Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about design for hybrid events, how to make them stand out, and why they will be the future if done right will be discussed this week. So grab your favorite drink and join the party!
What Is A Hybrid Event: How We Got Here
In the past, face to face events started getting more sophisticated. Data and technology came into the picture, and the industry kept climbing to such a degree that event professionals didn’t need to adopt hybrid. They didn’t even have to take the time of the day to think about it – when things are good, you don’t stretch further than you have to.
But after months of struggling and walking through the uncertain ground, we finally have enough room to breathe, to look into the future. And we can see that maybe, just maybe, there’s a line at the end of the tunnel. And the only future that seems plausible at this point is hybrid.
Here’s the kicker, though: a lot of people are jumping into hybrid because they hear that buzzword and think they have to do it. They’re just doing it because it’s “the thing”. Essentially, it’s the TikTok of the events industry. But what’s missing?
It’s not just about asking yourself “what is a hybrid event”, get the basic answer, and get going based on that. What’s missing is the need, want, and strategy. Most hybrid events that have taken place are really just face-to-face events with a bit of virtual portal thrown in the mix as an afterthought.
And now we’ve been doing the reverse, so we’re learning these new skills and training these muscles. So we can actually design an event in a virtual space that is cool and unique and plays into the benefits that this type of experience offers. This is the perfect storm for actually designed, well thought out hybrid events.
The majority of experiences should try to be as inclusive as possible in order to accommodate different people’s needs, which includes remote viewing. There’s a myriad of reasons why someone would have to take in your event from a screen. Most events at any scale should be designed in hybrid form because it’s inclusive.
Designing The Ultimate Hybrid Experience
With hybrid, you have to take design thinking, apply it to the virtual experience, ensure cohesiveness, and what is expected of the experience between the two. Another element that is missing is a community that is inclusive of the virtual and the in-person. Where the interaction and connectivity are something that is taking place between the two. That’s what a true hybrid event is – not an isolated experience, but one that bridges the gap. The same quality experience for both audiences.
The people who have great hospitality experience are the ones that make a person feel like they’re not different, they’re not separate. But instead, that everyone at the table has the same designed experience, the same impact. It doesn’t matter who the minority or majority is, there’s a cohesiveness to the belonging of the event.
Where We Are Failing & How We Can Get Better
Virtual events have a lot less of an empathetic design than in-person, and that’s the problem. You need to fully consider the person who is sitting at their desk and isn’t getting to move around, feel the excitement. You can’t make them an afterthought. Particularly when virtual events have the potential to be the superior experience, to engage emotion.
Think about it – when was the last time you saw something at a face-to-face event that made you cry? Now, what was the last time you watched a movie, TV show, or commercial that made you cry? You have to consider b-roll or other videos, then inner stitching it to the live experience in a way that plays with and pulls your emotions, and that brings you back to in-person at the right time. Camera A, camera B, switching back and forth from pre-roll in order to heighten things. Not just different angles, but production, directorial vision in order to play with emotions. The production design is the gateway to the missing company. That and exceptional emcee to bridge the gap. Once both the in-person and virtual aspects are considered with the same weight and given the same importance, you’re on the right track to creating an unforgettable experience.