The rise of remoteness that began during the pandemic has forever changed how most of us view our professional lives. As we edge our way back to a new normal, there is little chance it will resemble the pre-Covid-19 era. The end of the long commute isn’t the only major change either.

Our receptiveness to meeting up in a virtual world and to attend virtual events leapfrogged beyond imagination. Video conferencing tools and event platforms instantly went from novelty to mainstream, and virtual events and shows became the norm.

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The rise of virtual events

In this new era, virtual events have given brands the opportunity to reach customers in places of the world that would have seemed impossible just a short couple of years ago. For large companies, those already with a steady global customer base, they’ve had the opportunity to bring the energy of major product launches beyond just the reach of physical attendees.

While we’re moving to hybrid events, are in-person events a thing of the past?

Who doesn't like to get out and meet up? Most of us enjoy in-person contact and meeting up with colleagues and clients. But, as we become more accustomed to a mix of in-person and virtual events, we often appreciate the ability to choose. Due to this, companies are expected to lean towards a hybrid approach—a mix of in-person and virtual strategy—when organizing events in the years to come.

According to a recent survey by event marketing platform Splash, 79 percent of companies plan to hold hybrid events in 2022, a figure that has remained steady since their first survey a year ago.

The emergence of hybrid events: a best of both worlds approach

At the beginning of the pandemic, companies were forced to scramble fast and convert in-person shows and events to a virtual-only format. However, as time went on and the know-how and sophistication of virtual event platforms improved, the ease and quality increased. Now, as audiences become more engaged to a mix of in-person and virtual, hybrid events are likely to become the norm.

For example, this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, with its more than 50 conference sessions and live-stream keynotes broadcast online, along with in-person booths and events, attest to the ability of companies to pivot quickly and provide a best of both worlds experience.

 

CES Las Vegas hybrid interviews

Innovation expert interviews at CES Las Vegas 2022 C Space studio for live and online audiences. (Source: Consumer Technology Association) 

BizBash and Mediasite Events 2021 survey of events professionals found that 81 percent of respondents said that they expect all or most of their events during the next two years to be hybrid events. This trend is ever more evident as major events like the annual Mobile World Congress (MWC) go hybrid for the second year in a row. Virtual attendees can opt for live streaming or on-demand of keynotes and broadcast-quality content. To create a more enhanced networking experience, the My MWC app is promoted as a dedicated networking space that includes built-in video conferencing.

Hybrid events: a mix of challenges and opportunities

Going hybrid means a new mix of challenges but also provides a wealth of opportunities to companies and brands, both small and large.

As attendees become more accustomed to digital events, the challenge is to meet the heightened expectations of attendees when it comes to the virtual component of hybrid events.

For companies, holding virtual events for the first time meant adopting production techniques from television and engagement strategies from social media. It also meant that they had to integrate newer technologies and platforms into their teams so that virtual and in-person attendees seamlessly experience the same level of engagement and access. All of this while producing on-site materials and ensuring that virtual attendees had the same access to event content digitally.

Going forward, companies will need to take their creativity to the next level in the hybrid event world. It will require looking at new ways to engage audiences by merging the two worlds and creating content that lives on beyond an event.

For example, automotive company Polestar showcased their electric vehicles at an in-person hotel takeover in Sydney and on the hotel microsite for both an immersive and unique experience. But, instead of just rolling out a car, the company hired musician and engineer Moritz Simon Geist to create music using Polestar car parts. Attendees watched Geist's performance not only at the hotel but also online. In addition, they started a whole new level of engagement by giving attendees the opportunity to create their own music through an immersive soundboard.

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While hybrid events provide companies an opportunity to broaden their reach and refine event metrics, the challenge is the revenue-generating interactions companies have in the past grown accustomed to with in-person events. Nevertheless, early signs are promising, as seen in the BizBash and Mediasite survey of event professionals, of which 15 percent of respondents said that virtual events had yielded more qualified leads.

With the integration of live chat, networking, and simulated live capabilities, companies will accommodate attendees' requirements in ways beyond in-person. By providing a more personalized approach, brands will meet their customers at defining moments in the buying process. Companies will have more significant insights into what attendees are interested in and expect with enhanced measurement capabilities.

As many companies witnessed during the past two years, hybrid events provide an amazing opportunity to bring together the best of both worlds. The pandemic made companies rethink their approach to creating excitement around new products and how to connect with their customers in a whole new way. However, the recipe remains the same, whether in person or online; innovative content and products drive success.

Hybrid events production: Protect your digital assets!

With the rise of hybrid and virtual events, it’s vital to understand where your digital assets are at risk of misuse when preparing for a major launch. Check out our Leak-Proof Product Launch Checklist to understand where risks are and how to avoid them.

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The leak-proof product launch checklist!

Keep an eye on all the things you need to protect before launching a new product! 

Download the full checklist
Christine Deschaseaux

Christine Deschaseaux

Expert in digital strategies and innovation and CMO at Imatag. Christine’s 20+ year career is guided by her taste for technologic innovation and her customer-oriented mindset. Her skills mix engineering, digital economy and marketing of innovation.

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