Virtual, Hybrid or In-Person Events?
First of all and most importantly - why do we have to pick? There are all manner of opinions, recommendations, predictions and feedback in terms of what the future of events looks like. I get it - we are event professionals, we like clarity, we like to know what to expect and we love us a good definition. But in all honesty, the last year has been such a learning curve for the industry in terms of adapting, learning, adopting and embracing that I feel we are in such a great position to actually not have to choose cause technically, we could have it all.
There was definitely a fast-forward button pushed on the virtual events front with the launch of so many different platforms and event technology. Overnight (it felt like) new event positions were created like 'Experience Builder', 'Events Host' and 'Head of Engagement' or 'Head of Experience' for example and there was and continues to be significant funding in event technology and platforms like LinkedIn investing in Hopin and Twine raised $3.3 million in venture capital funding just to name a few.
And not only was virtual embraced, the name of the game right now is how to keep making them better and better. More engaging, more creative, more show-stopping. I mean Swapcard got Arianna Huffington as a Keynote Speaker - that's a baller move if there ever was one. Influencers aside, hybrid seems to be the focus now as we see 'stirrings' of live, in-person events return bit by bit. But it seems, no one really has a real definition for hybrid or at least can't seem to agree on what it is. I think it's one company putting on two separate events, one virtual and one in-person and marrying the two audiences across various touch points but also providing independent engagement and different content for each event. But I could be very wrong.
The truth is, I don't think there's a proper definition or breakdown yet because we're only touching the surface of what could be possible with hybrid events. I am confident, should this be a model that is chosen, it will look different with every event and for every client. That's the beauty of it. Hybrid should be the 'overarching' title and there should be all the different possibilities under it and in the name of consistency, Virtual should be also broken down this way because well a webinar or online workshop is a virtual event too. Right? (this could get hairy..)
Don't come for me. I'm just writing out what i've been observing the past year. I think the dust is far from settling when it comes to the great virtual or hybrid debate. And many are predicting that we will just all go back to in-person once the 'madness' is well and truly over. Now this is one thing I definitely disagree with because in many instances, those virtual events have been a better option in terms of 'the numbers'. Data doesn't lie and we now live in a data-driven world and economy. If I managed to have 3000 people attend my virtual event versus 250, would I seriously consider going back to having an in-person only event? Or would I keep it virtual and level up? Or better yet, would I figure out how to make hybrid so I can have best of both worlds? This is what the real considerations are now going to be in quite a few cases. And that's not a bad thing.
We are lucky to live in a time where we have choices and how we want to integrate technology into our events to make them the best that they can be. I don't think we need to pick a side and I also don't appreciate it when someone bad mouths virtual or hybrid. It's a choice that we make and that we have and the most important thing is making sure at the end of the day, whatever event model you've chosen to go with, will be the best solution for your objectives and goals.
Let's not pick sides but instead share the wins of the different events that are created focussing instead on areas like innovation, creativity and engagement. It's about bringing people together the best way possible and I for one, know the future is bright and exciting.
If you enjoyed this blog then be sure to find me online on Instagram at @hothospitalitye where I create all manner of content for event professionals from the perspective of an event professional, me! See you there and look forward to welcoming you to my online community.
xoxo Your Social Media Hype Girl