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Hybrid Events: the future of events post COVID-19?

By Sarah Bradwell

There is no doubt the events industry has been severely impacted by the current COVID-19 global pandemic. Will the hybrid event format become the future for ticketing events while the world gets back on its feet post COVID19?

With thousands of events being cancelled or postponed around the world, it’s hard to know what lasting impact COVID-19 will have on the events sector. And though social distancing restrictions may be easing, the promise of mass events returning to their former glory may still be a while away. With this Event Organisers are exploring new ways to adapt their events so that they can be commercially viable, accessible and safe. Hybrid Events are not a new concept, but could they deliver the future for events and a temporary solution whilst the world gets back on its feet?

What is a Hybrid event?

A Hybrid event is an event that hosts both a live audience and - through the use of streaming technology -  an online audience. The online audience is actively engaged and involved throughout the event, with online polls, quizzes, brainstorms and interacting with the speakers through Q&As as well as fellow online audience members. 

Hybrid events are more than just a static recording that anyone can tune into, as they encourage all patrons to interact with various aspects of the event.

What are the benefits of Hybrid Events?

- Hosting a Hybrid event means there are no longer geographical or physical limitations for the patrons at your event. You are able to reach a far wider audience than ever before as people in other states (and other countries) can join your event as part of the online audience; and there are often no limits to online audience participation. This can therefore increases your geographic reach and brand awareness.

- Hosting one Hybrid event saves you the cost of running the same event in multiple locations. Goodbye travel expenses!

- In many ways the experience for the online guest can be better than the live guest: the online vision of the event will likely be better than those positioned toward the back of the auditorium; associated content can be embedded into the presentation which online guests can easily access; additional moderator/expert commentary embedded into the online experience may not be as integrated to the live event; the ability to easily ask speakers questions (via typing it to the moderator) and the list goes on.

- Although the concept of a Hybrid event is for all to attend at the same time - whether in person or online - a recording of the event does also mean that a patron who is unable to tune in at the event time, can watch it at another time more convenient for them. Although this removes the interactive element, this does mean you are able to reach an even wider audience.

- Similarly the recording of your live event can be reused later as great promotional content for your business.

The Online moderators is important role to optimize the experience of online participants attending hybrid events
Your Online Moderator will boost your Online guests' experience at your Hybrid Event

What do I need to host a Hybrid event?

As there is now a live and online component to your event, there will be additional planning to ensure the enjoyment for both types of attendees. For any sort of virtual event, you will need to have technology that will allow you to stream your event to an online platform: a camera/laptop, microphone, tripod, access to the internet and your chosen streaming provider. With a live audience also present, you will need to carefully think about the placement of this equipment - you wouldn’t want a live audience member to block the camera with their head accidentally! 

For a large scale event, the tech requirements are more complex. There may be a need to hire a camera crew, sound engineers and a tech team to ensure the online audience has a great experience around the content and how they are invited to engage with the event. Think about the different angles shown for a sporting event on TV; that’s what your camera crew can help you achieve. 

If your event takes place on a stage, you may also need to think about the lighting and how this will affect your recording. 

There are a few other technical aspects you may want to consider for your Hybrid event:

- If your event shows a slide/video to your live audience, these will need to be pre-loaded onto the streaming platform.

- It is important that speakers know where the cameras are so they don’t wander off and leave the online viewers with an empty screen!

- You may want to have someone in charge of the online experience - to initiate brainstorms or Q&As. It is important to acknowledge the presence of the online audience as this ensures they feel involved and an integral part of the event. Remember that an online audience can ‘leave’ the event with a click of the button so finding ways to keep them interested is incredibly important! 

- If your live event has an intermission in the schedule - how will you engage the online audience during this break?

- Some streaming platforms even offer a translation service so language barriers may no longer be an issue. 

Remember that technology can be fickle - always have a backup plan!

Will hosting a Hybrid event affect my in-person attendance?

You may be concerned that hosting a Hybrid event will mean attendees choose to participate in the event from the comfort of their own home, instead of attending in person. However, virtual attendees are usually those who would love to attend but due to location, travel costs or other commitments normally wouldn’t be able to. Those with the means to attend in-person most likely still will so they can experience the event atmosphere, network with fellow attendees and enjoy special perks only available in-person. 

Some ticketing tips:

- Run geo-targeted ads which promote the online option to your non local guests, while the locals see a different ad promoting the in person event options! 

- Release your virtual event tickets at a later stage to ensure that you receive a strong response for your live audience tickets.

- Virtual tickets are often cheaper than in-person tickets. This is usually due to special events, products or extras which are only available at the event and are included in the original ticket price. These perks are often why virtual attendees convert to live attendees. 

Whether it’s a masterclass, a concert, a seminar or festival, a Hybrid Event may be the perfect solution to ensure you can still host your event during these unprecedented times. Our Client Services team would love to help you get started to ticketing your 1st hybrid event, so don't hesitate to contact one of our friendly team members today! Click here to get started today

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