Now live events are starting to reopen, organisers are keen not to lose the benefits they’ve gained from virtual events during the last year. Of course, everyone’s excited about getting out again and meeting people face-to-face, as soon as it’s safe to do so. But it’s undoubtedly true that marketers have found the virtual sphere to be ripe with opportunity during the pandemic. Those that have had success with them – which means those that have managed to use them to meet strategic marketing objectives – are looking to the concept of hybrid events to keep the flame alive.
Virtual events have many benefits beyond substituting for live events when a pandemic is underway. For consumer and fan events, barriers to attendance are far lower, while for corporate and business events, companies don’t have to spend huge sums on travel and accommodation in order to send delegates.
In terms of content, they offer streamlined access to whatever curated events and information is being offered. And when it comes to engagement, they offer opportunities for interaction that, while they may not have the same specific value as face-to-face meetings and in-person discussions, go beyond what is usually achievable on email, messaging or video chat platforms. These will all remain equally valid as we move into a post-pandemic world.
With that in mind, here are some highlights of what we have seen so far – and what’s coming up in the near future – in hybrid events. Organiser’s focus is on creating experiences that take the best of virtual events, and the best of live events, and put them together to make something new and often exciting. All these examples can serve as lessons or inspiration for anyone wondering how events will work, going forward:
The world’s largest consumer technology event will return in hybrid form in 2022, having taken place entirely virtually in 2021. No doubt we can expect to see a more interactive and engaging event for virtual attendees, as organisers transplant what they have learned during the “year of virtual” into creating more immersive experiences that can be enjoyed both online and offline. With 1,000 brands including the best-known names in tech such as Amazon, Google and Sony confirmed to attend, it’s likely to be a real showcase for the power of hybrid.
League of Legends Tournaments
The world of online gaming and e-sports has led the way when it comes to showing us how hybrid events can work. The 2019 League of Legends tournament final, organised by Riot Games, took place in Paris in front of 15,000 fans and was simultaneously watched online by over 100 million people. Home viewers could engage by enjoying the event collaboratively as well as interacting with their favourite players and influencers during the event. E-sports is a natural home for virtual events and hybrid plays a strong part in this strategy. The events also generated large sponsorship deals with companies such as Spotify and Cisco.
This year the tech industry has the choice of travelling to Barcelona for MWC or enjoying it from the comfort and convenience of their own homes. As with CES, organisers were rudely introduced to the need for a virtual channel last year, when in-person events were cancelled around the world. This year, virtual visitors will have dedicated conference sessions, as well as exclusive online-only content. This is a somewhat different strategy as organisers of hybrid events have so far generally focused on making content accessible to both online and offline audiences.
Apple Special Events
Apple is another company that moved into hybrid events early, in the form of its Special Events programme. These shows have always involved live events such as launches and product showcases that take place in a live environment but are also simultaneously streamed to the homes of fans around the globe. The live events attract press and media coverage, while the online elements mean a huge deal of buzz can be built up around Apple’s news and announcements across social media and other digital channels. As always, Apple is a great company to look to, for examples of new technology channels being used to engage fans.
This annual event combines a live keynote and breakout agenda that can be attended in-person with simultaneous live streaming to its virtual audience. Organisers have said that this significantly increases the number of attendees that they can attract, leading to more revenue generation through sponsorships. It’s a great model for hybrid, showing how content can be shared equally well between local and remote audiences to build brand awareness as well as generate income from your event.
Taking placing in London as a live event that can be attended in person, this year the event will be truly hybrid with digital showcases, keynotes and workshops that can be enjoyed virtually as well. There will also be the chance to chat and interact with designers as well as watch the runway shows, and even to purchase fabrics and fashions that catch your eye.
Buzznation has expertise in virtual and hybrid events that can help you create experiences that audiences will remember and value. Contact Us today to find out how we can help you.