Hybrid events are no longer a strange term in the event management industry for a while now. This may sound unfamiliar, being an event to combine both the “online” and “offline” factors; offline as in there will be participants attending the event, online as in their attendance will be via virtual platforms, such as Social networks (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube); online discussion to be assisted by audio and video tools (Skype, Zoom, or Google Hangouts Meet…)
Organising events combining these two factors is becoming more and more popular and this not only attracts the professionals but also wins the attention of the online community. For the organisers, a hybrid event does not cost too much as the conventional event and yet it can still bring the corresponding effect, even receiving special attention from the online community. Organising a hybrid event can also be an optimal environmental friendly solution to help minimise the amount of unnecessary waste to the environment. Furthermore, the attendees of hybrid events can enjoy the comfort of attending the event from anywhere any time, from a laptop or a smartphone. By eliminating the space and time distance helps attendees optimise the time, hence the interaction will become a lot easier.
In 2020, considering the fact that events, big or small, are being cancelled due to COVID-19, many businesses and event organisers have quickly become flexible in finding solutions to limit direct contact with the public. Online events and hybrid events have become the right choice for the time being. At the forefront of these events lie big players like Apple with their most important event of the year - the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) that took place in the early morning of June 23 in the form of an online event, for the first time in history. Along with that, luxury fashion brands such as Dior, Giorgio Armani, ... or even Paris Haute Couture Week have utilised the form of digital online events instead of the normal fashion extravaganzas.
Tim Cook - CEO of Apple on his opening speech of WWDC 2020 (Source: Bloomberg)
The Right Strategy for a Hybrid Event
As countries are beginning to recover and loosen the restrictions imposed by COVID-19, the strategy of incorporating online elements in any live events will be a major competitive advantage for event organisers. Here are some tips to build an efficient hybrid event strategy.
Tip 1: Make good use of data analysis
A major advantage of online event organisation is the ability to collect, analyse and measure data effectively. Most online event platforms now feature the reporting capability. Utilising the data results to study the behaviour and interaction level of the audience attending said online event to prove the effectiveness and interest of attendees for the programme is a measure of success for organisers and sponsors. Utilising data effectively helps the organisers know what has been happening during the implementation of the online programme; lessons will be learnt and more tactical strategies will be applied.
Statistics on live-streaming views on YouTube of certain events (Source: Yeah1 Network)
Tip 2: Adjust the organisation style to suit the online audience
For online events, there is one important factor that organisers need to keep in mind: remote audience. Meanwhile, the hybrid events involve both live and distant attendees. Therefore, it is important to strive to serve and respond to the experience of both groups at the same time and try to create as many experiences as possible. There will be experiences that are designed to be the same, such as the speakers’ keynotes. However, there will be completely different experiences such as networking activities, interactive Q&A between participants and speakers. These activities require organisers to think more into various ways of breaking the audience into teams for discussion or video-calling so that attendees do not feel left out.
Tip 3: Select venues that are technology friendly
Technology is a backbone for all digital or hybrid events. Depending on your type of events, the technical requirements will vary. Modern and technology friendly venues will make a crucial point in selecting where your event shall be held.
In the event planning process, a venue that meets all technology installation requirements should be picked. Modern event venues are now often equipped with high speed Wi-fi for live streaming without any interruptions.
Tip 4: Invest in more advanced experiences
In a survey conducted in Vietnam Online Marketing Forum 2014, three quarters of the 4000 respondents answered that they yearned for personal experiences. They were willing to pay the extra money for the experiences should they be worth it, rather than spend it on merchandise. Attendants do not lack options when choosing to attend an event, yet they would be more likely to pick those that offer them the feeling of expressing themselves or suit their personalities. Understanding what the participants want and customise their experiences will definitely give your event an edge, while it requires more thoughts and consideration to be put in during planning and strategising. Here are some questions worth asking:
- Who are the participants?
- Why should they choose your event?
- How will they differentiate a successful yet fleeting event from a memorable one?
In order to create more advanced experiences for a hybrid event, initiatives have been taken to tackle this issue. Take “Space Science in Context” Virtual Conference in May 2020 for example. Using a flipped-classroom model, the content for presentations were available prior to the conference. On the day, virtual text and audiovisual based chats via Microsoft Teams were applied so attendees could interface with presenters. Such a small change in the format has brought back so many praises from the participants.
Established in 2011, CREATIO has proven its position and expertise in the industry of creative communications solutions consultancy. With a broad range of services from event management, branding design and production, to content marketing and PR distribution, CREATIO has the privilege to serve more than 120 clients worldwide, from a singular design concept to year-long integrated communications campaigns. Notably, during the ‘new normal’ era, CREATIO organised a hybrid event titled “Online launching of “Young Voices in Vietnam” Report”, via multiple platforms (Facebook, YouTube, TikTok). The event is a part of project “Strengthening Capacity of Civil Society Organizations on Child Rights Governance” implemented by Management and Sustainable Development Institute (MSD) with Save the Children support and SIDA’s funding.