Hybrid events should become a permanent part of how we gather
Hybrid events have numerous benefits including increased reach, lower costs, and greater accessibility
Many people are asking: “What is the future of events?”
While many are anxious to get back to the way things were, there are some great takeaways from this past year of virtual events. As we move forward to more in-person gatherings, we advocate for bringing the many benefits of virtual events with us. Enter, the hybrid event.
What is a hybrid event?
A hybrid event is one that has both an in-person and virtual component. Attendees of a hybrid event get to choose their own adventure. They have a choice of how they would like to engage via attending in person or attending in the comfort of their own home.
Since attendees are able to choose how they would like to engage (in-person or virtual), it creates a more inclusive and accessible experience for the attendees.
Better for Busy Attendees
For many, the increase in virtual events has been greatly beneficial. This includes busy professionals and parents. Some parents may want the opportunity to go to a gala to have a night out on the town. For many others, hiring a babysitter and finding something to wear can be time-intensive and unfeasible. By being able to attend online, they can still be a part of the event without sacrificing time and energy.
Accessibility is a large issue for many events. Some people with disabilities are unable to travel to a traditional event. Others may have trouble attending due to hearing issues or speaking a foreign language. The virtual component of hybrid events solves this issue. Those with hearing issues are able to have closed captioning, while foreign language speakers can have the closed captioning translated. This creates a more equitable event, increasing accessibility to important groups within our society.
Inclusion of Far-Away Guests
Some organizations serve stakeholders outside of their hometown. A hybrid event allows these out of town guests to participate. Additionally, those that must travel for work or live far away can attend.
Solving the nonprofit dilemma: Balancing fundraising needs and serving the community
Additionally, hybrid events help to solve the dilemma of nonprofits who have to balance the necessity of fundraising with their desire to include the community they serve.
Many nonprofits struggle with this issue.
They need to fill their event with big-spending donors in the room. However, the community members these nonprofits serve may still want to attend and be included, yet the costs of the tickets due to catering (and other costs) can be too high.
With a hybrid event, an in-person ticket price can be offered at a higher rate. The virtual experience can either be heavily discounted or free, which gives attendees options to participate in a way that aligns financially for them. This allows nonprofits to include all stakeholders and reaches a broader audience which ultimately better serves an organization.
Another benefit for organizations is that while the AV costs are higher for a hybrid event, the overall event costs are lower. The cost to host the virtual component of the event is a flat fee and is not dependent on the number of virtual attendees. Additionally, there is a greater opportunity for increased ticket sales, since a virtual event has unlimited capacity. This means the in-person portion could be scaled down and take place at a smaller venue, reducing catering costs and venue fees. A hybrid event model truly has the potential to make more money for the organization in the end.
An Event that Lives On
Since the event is being recorded, organizations are able to send out a recording after the event for increased reach. Additionally, the recording is evergreen content that can be leveraged in other ways. For example, it can be used to send to new donors, edited into small clips for social media, or used on their website.
The Biggest Mistake of Hybrid Events: An unequal experience for attendees
Although hybrid events have many benefits, they must be done well in order to truly reap the benefits. If the virtual component of the event is treated as an afterthought, then it provides an unequal and inequitable experience for attendees. This leads to virtual attendees being treated like second-rate guests and erodes the benefits of accessibility and inclusivity.
In order to avoid a second-rate experience for virtual attendees, we recommend things like acknowledging your virtual attendees in your program, creating additional media and powerpoints for the live stream, and captions and titles for speakers. In our next article, we will be discussing more ways to increase the quality and equity of your hybrid event including tips and tricks.
The hybrid event model is something that will hopefully become a permanent part of how events occur going forward. The benefit of being able to reach anyone in the world is invaluable, and the ability to offer options to attendees is an important part of how we adapt to the ever-changing social environment.
Are you interested in learning more about how we can create a hybrid event for you? Reach out to get a conversation started or sign up for our newsletter.