As an event organiser, you might have made hard choices over the last year about whether your events should go ahead, or move online as a virtual event. For some there hasn’t even been a choice as safety considerations have made large-scale real-world events entirely impractical.
Hopefully as normal business begins to resume, real-world events once again become a regular fixture of our marketing strategies. But wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to make that choice at all? If there was an option to take the engagement, sense of occasion and glamour that comes with real-world events, while retaining the convenience, accessibility and safety of virtual events?
Well, Hybrid Event is a term we’re all going to be hearing a lot more of over the next 12 months, and most likely well beyond that, too. In short, it’s about blurring the distinction between real-world and virtual events. We do it by creating a “digital track” that runs alongside live event, where attendees joining from home can access the same (or similar) content, take part in the same sessions and enjoy the same opportunities for learning and networking.
The extent to which your digital track is intertwined with your live event will be different for every event – you may want to provide digital visitors with exclusive online content or you may want a uniform experience for all attendees, regardless of whether they are there in person or virtually.
This intertwining also gives rise to creative possibilities for event organisers to boost attendance, engagement and visitor satisfaction. Keynotes and presentations can be simultaneously live streamed to an online audience who are able to take part in polls or question-and-answer sessions just as if they were there in the live audience. Workshops and round table sessions can involve a mixed virtual and live audience – you could even create fun competition by pitting virtual teams against live teams in hackathons, contests or quizzes.
What are the benefits of hybrid events?
The intention behind creating hybrid events is to give a “best-of-both-worlds” solution to businesses and attendees who may not yet be confident with international travel but don’t want to miss out on the leading industry events.
Virtual events have proven themselves invaluable tools for building audience engagement and brand awareness, and that will still be the case when the current pandemic is just a memory. We’re all hugely excited to be getting back to travelling and visiting live events, sure, but the fact is that we simply don’t have time to make it to all of them! Adding a virtual track to our live events to create a hybrid event means we will continue to attract visitors from around the world, who otherwise may not have had the time or resources to get themselves to our events in person.
For live events, hybrid is about bringing the technological functionality and desire to create memorable visitor experiences that we’ve seen during the “virtual event revolution” into the real world.
What will hybrid events look like in the future?
So, it’s a new concept, but there’s already a lot of excitement about how this could play out in the future.
Imagine putting on a VR headset at home and being able to walk around a scale representation of the real-world event, as an avatar of yourself.
Now imagine that a real-world attendee puts on an augmented reality headset and looks around them. In front of them they see your avatar. You have a conversation as if you are together in person. You might even decide to head to the refreshment area and have a drink together!
It may seem far-fetched now, but Microsoft’s recent announcement of its Mesh mixed-reality platform that lets attendees meet and mingle in 3D environments built from both computer generated and real-world images shows this sort of experience is closer to reality than we might think.
The truth is that at the stage we are today, we’re only seeing the very first glimpses of what events will be like in the future, when technology has broken down all the barriers between real and virtual.
What are the features of a Buzznation hybrid event?
We can create a virtual track to run alongside any real-world event, to transform it into a hybrid event.
All the sessions that your attendees are enjoying and engaging with at the event can be recreated digitally or streamed directly to your attendees who are at home.
We can create unified attendee registration and profiles across virtual and online, so attendees can engage and network with each other, regardless of where they are.
Both the audience and participants of any presentations, keynotes or other sessions can be a mix of people who are there in person or engaging remotely. Online audiences can participate as if they were there in person.
Beyond that we are limited only by imagination in creating ways to drive engagement at hybrid events. Everything we do is driven by the desire to create audience experiences, and the mashup of live and virtual enabled by hybrid means that anything is possible.
Get in touch today to find out how we can help with end-to-end technology and event management for your virtual, real-world or hybrid events!