Who would have thought virtual events would have come into their own during 2020 in such a dramatic way? They are the next best thing to face-to-face meetings and have become a good substitute until live events get going again, but what is the future for virtual post-Covid?
At DRPG, we believe the future is hybrid. So, what exactly is a hybrid event?
A hybrid event refers to an experience where the audience is split between live and virtual, with some in a venue and others watching remotely; where we have the same content and message, but it is delivered in a different way.
Although we may think of hybrid as a ‘futuristic’ notion, hybrid events have been around as long as TV cameras have been broadcasting. In fact, a hybrid event follows a format with which almost all the population is vastly comfortable. The Olympics, royal weddings, even the presidential elections are all examples of hybrid events.
What 2020 has shown us is to what extent technology can support the world of events in the future. The shift to virtual and hybrid was inevitable and would have happened regardless of the pandemic. Issues such as climate change, as well as flexible working, were coming to the fore and pressurising the world of live events to adapt. With the many benefits of virtual events, it’s no wonder they were becoming a more popular solution to businesses’ communications needs. However, without Covid, it is likely to have taken longer for audiences and clients to fully embrace the phenomenon.
So, is hybrid going to become the next big thing for the live events industry? I think it’s fair to say that Covid has changed the face of the industry, but this could well be for the better. When live events do start up again the demand for hybrid will be high. Restrictions on travel could be with us for a while and client organisations may want to adopt a more local or regional approach to their live events with the option to then bring national teams together virtually, seamlessly blending the two formats.
Finally, many stalwarts of the events industry are asking ‘do digital solutions pose a threat to live events?’ Clearly no, they do not. What they do is open doors of opportunity for extended audiences, global reach, interaction and greater income from such things as sponsorship. Live events should not be worried as we have the one thing that makes them the number one communication experience – ‘I was there…’. For this reason, events of the future will not be purely live or purely virtual, but a perfect blend of the two, mixing that all important ‘I was there…’ experience with the wider reaching benefits of virtual. If you know how to create a successful hybrid event it is safe to say that the hybrid event is here and it’s here to stay.