Chris Elmitt, CEO of cloud-based platform LIVVE shares his experience of going hybrid for a healthcare client in Madrid.
In a previous article for Digital Event News I wrote about three different models for running hybrid events – each of which dealt with the virtual and in-room audiences in different ways.
At one extreme was our Match of the Day approach – where the in-room audience had a full length (e.g. day-long) experience tailored for them, while the online audience would have a shorter, made-for-virtual experience, which comprised of a highlights package from the main show broadcast from an on-site studio.
At the other end was a fully integrated experience where in-room and online audiences could attend “together”. Having recently delivered the latter for a healthcare client in Madrid, here are five things we learned.
First, we learned that virtual hybrid audiences behave in a very similar way to pure virtual. That is to say that they sign-up in much larger numbers than they turn up (three to one ratio), and the longer the show, the fewer that stay.
Our goal in designing the event was to keep the days down to three hours (a best fit line between in-room and online we felt). But that was uncomfortable for a team that had six hours of content per day.
While the longer programme suited the in-room audience, by the time the show finished, we only had one third of the peak online audience still attending. The difficulty is in making a division between content that is valuable for both audiences and content that can be kept for in-person audiences.
Second, we discovered that hybrid events are special in the minds of the guests. The client exceeded their expectations in terms of reach for the event. Both in-room and online attendees that they hadn’t expected to engage and attend did, in part because of the special status of the event being hybrid.
Third, we discovered that, as widely trailed, hybrid events are complex to plan and run technically – but that is no reason not to do it. It is just a reason to ensure that you work with a very highly-skilled crew.
In this instance, the technical solution was provided by a very effective partnership between James Gibson at Love Live, working with Stu Brown at SBAV and the team at DuShow based in Madrid, with the virtual element and remote speaker management expertly managed by the Crystal Interactive team.
Fourthly, I was reminded of the value of pre-records. We already know how much strain they can remove from virtual events, but in hybrid, they are arguably even more important.
The tension of watching a remote presentation where every one of the 100 in-room audience members is thinking: “is Bob’s internet connection going to hold out to the end of his presentation?” is as unnecessary as it is unbearable.
So did this fest of technical complexity and uncertainty put me off the hybrid format? Quite the opposite: the client built meaningful relationships they could never have done either with face-to-face or pure virtual, and the sense of connection when a participant from online was brought “into the room” via Crystal’s technology and was able to have a spontaneous exchange with a speaker on-stage showed me how far we have come technically as an industry in the last two years.
I am excited to see how agencies, clients and productions teams build on their early experiences to scale the hybrid format for more widespread use.