What is a Hybrid Event?

What is a hybrid event?  

If you've been keeping tabs on the event industry this year, I'm sure you've heard the latest buzzword 'Hybrid Events'. But do you know exactly what this means? If not, let us help you! Bear with us here, as the term is still a undefined and changing entity at the moment, but we will try our best!

A hybrid event in it's humblest of terms, is the combination of a physical venue for in-person attendees and presenters with an online platform for virtual attendees and presenters (attending via live stream, or on demand). Hybrid events allow for an in-person and online audience to view and interact with the same content simultaneously, which bridges the gap between physical and virtual events.

This isn’t to say that every event with a virtual element attached counts as a hybrid event. For example, using a static camera in a venue to stream a panel discussion online doesn’t necessarily make it a hybrid event. Instead, the panel could be either participating virtually, or physically, with a group of in-person attendees and virtual attendees interacting with the content and each other.

Now you might be thinking, “But hasn’t this all been done before this year?”

The answer is, yes but also no… stick with us here! Yes in a basic sense, using a camera to livestream the event, such as streaming the ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ final.  No, because the meaning behind hybrid has evolved to be much more interactive than just watching a live or on demand stream. It has developed in alignment to today’s technological requirements.  

 

Hybrid events are mostly beneficial for large audiences who are unable to meet in person, whether due to their different locations, or most recently, the pandemic. They encourage audience members from across the globe to tune into and attend the event, no matter the distance. This also creates the benefit of a less negative environmental impact due to  the reduction in travel to events. A key factor that sets this apart from the benefits of a virtual event is the feeling of excitement and emotion that audience’s often experience in physical events. It is easy to lose these feelings within a purely virtual event. But hybrid event's allow for attendees to interact in real time with physical and virtual audiences and presenters, encouraging participation rather than simply watching the event online. 

 

Designing an event with the hybrid mind-set:

When looking to run a hybrid event, we need to adapt our processes of doing things and apply physical event planning to fit a virtual world. We should then discover ways to engage with both audiences. Consider what are the bonuses of attending the event for each audience?  For instance, using live Q&A’s,  polls, or creating networking areas in both event spaces.

Consider your global digital reach, carefully plan to avoid awkward viewing times in different time zones. There are many tactics to avoid this problem, for instance, a 24hr event format, in which there are hubs running the event across time zones.

 

So when you’re planning your next conference or live event, will you contemplate going hybrid?  

Reach out to one of our Event Coordinators, who will discuss with you the option to use our venues as hybrid event studios. We would love to hear all about your ideas, and collaborate with you in creating an event to remember.