Hybrid Events ARE Our Future… Now What?
Jaime Theresa Smith, CMP
National Account Manager
Hybrid events, the future of how we will meet, with us having an in-person component and an online one… in some form or fashion. It will be our way of meeting everyone’s needs as well as achieving our meeting planning goals. Eventually the name will go away, so we won’t have to focus on it, like we did “pivot” during the pandemic. Ultimately though, this is the best of both worlds, as long as we create the right impact for each audience.
Let’s get creative with how we build these future events. This is our chance to change the industry, make it an experience… an enhanced engagement for the connection we have been craving while only meeting virtually.
Where to begin? Reflect back on the successes of what came out of being virtual only.
- Better online – Some webinars or events may never go back to in-person; that just opens the door for a new in-person experience to create
- Cost effective – for both the planner and the attendee in some cases; anyone heard of Zoom, Teams, WebEx, Skype?
- Accessibility – larger reach aka more attendees learning from you
- On-demand content – available after the fact for even more attendees to consume what you have to offer
- New skills/certification – we are all learning, every day
- Lower carbon footprint – we only have one planet
Then, determine what’s best for your next event and your attendees by starting at the beginning. What are your goals? Determining the outcome only to work your way back in finding out how, when, where, is how we have always (or should have) built our events. Keep doing that. (Anyone heard of the #eventcanvas method?) Work with your partners! They are there for a reason… to help you succeed.
Create the right impact for each audience:
- Content/networking deliverables – let’s get back to multiple education tracks and hands-on workshops as well as that ever-missed exhibitor experience
- Model healthy behaviors – have a welcoming environment, but have your safety protocols and guidelines well communicated and addressed
- Work with the venue and partners to make sure everyone is on the same page for all of your meeting needs.
- Infinity loop – make it an ongoing dialogue and experience before, during, and after so everyone feels included
- Single education track – keep it simple and focused
- Determine how to engage everyone within their format so that both experiences are well received and all expectations have been met.
Start early, communicate clearly and often, and be flexible! Don’t forget meeting fatigue for both. Getting creative with your agendas will help with that latter point. Just as the “new normal” won’t be the same, our events shouldn’t be either. Try something new. Meet the needs of your attendees, your stakeholders, and collaborate with others. We were “in it together” during the height of the pandemic; we should continue being in it together moving forward.
The only thing constant is change. Embrace it!