Around a third of events professionals don’t have a crystal clear idea of what a hybrid event actually is, according to research carried out by SwapCard.
There is confusion around the definition and structure of a hybrid event model, as well as the value, challenges and steps required to execute a successful hybrid event.
Swapcard, the AI-powered event and matchmaking platform, found that despite the confusion, close to 70% of planner respondents said they were organising hybrid events for either Q3 or Q4 this year. While 15% stated they were planning a hybrid event for 2022.
Only 11.5% of respondents stated they were sticking with virtual-only events and only 5% claimed they were focused purely on in-person event strategies moving forward.
According to Swapcard’s Hybrid is Now report, engaging two audiences in different places is considered to be the biggest challenge, as cited by a third of event planners (33.8%).
The second biggest challenge, as voted for by 20.6% of respondents, is the belief that hybrid events require a larger overall budget, followed closely by providing adequate networking opportunities for attendees.
Cindy Y.Lo, CEO at Red Velvet told the Swapcard report: “Budget by far is the biggest challenge when going hybrid. My advice for other event planners organising hybrid events: determine early on what your goals are so that you can validate if they are prepared to make the financial investment necessary. Every company has a different risk-tolerance and that’s where we are right now with planning hybrid versus 100% digital events. I would also recommend that if you did not evolve in the last 14 months to the digital world, invest in hiring someone that has taught themselves what it truly takes to produce a solid digital experience or at least is comfortable with this, because virtual isn’t going away.”
The vast majority of event planners expect to see a hybrid model emerge as the main event type going forward.However, nearly 30% of respondents are either unsure or do not agree that hybrid events are the future. This consolidates the notion that there is a lack of knowledge and confusion about hybrid events within the industry.
There is no single, clean definition of a hybrid event that encompasses all the varieties possible in today’s tech-centric world. The Events Industry Council defines hybrid meetings as “a meeting that combines face-to-face and virtual aspects.”
While there may be many faces to the hybrid model, one golden thread will link them all together – the idea that there is both a virtual and in-person aspect to a gathering of people and exchanging of ideas.
How and when this group of people meets may vary, as well as how they share, learn, exchange, network, buy and sell. The hybrid model can even extend beyond a single event and run throughout the year, making it more of a community than a one-off occurrence.
Barbara Moore, client relations account manager at Big Head Cartoon Caricature Art and Entertainment told the Swapcard report: “Hybrid doesn’t have to be as complicated as you think. The key to hybrid is intentionality with virtual integrations for your in-person events. At Big Head Cartoon, instead of thinking of two separate events we have weaved the two components together to create a brand new experience, the Big Heads & Beats Caricature Art Photo Booth. Approach the quality of your hybrid components from every angle – visualise every aspect of the experience and make each part great. Focus on easing the user experience -simplicity is key. Partnerships and collaborations are crucial for the future of hybrid events.”
Further research conducted among 10,000 attendees at Swapcard’s virtual event, Evolve 2.0, held in February 2020, showed that 33% of event planners are either considering switching to a hybrid model or have already started running hybrid events. Some 14% wanted to learn more before making a decision. While 64% of attendees even labeled themselves as #TeamHybrid for the future of events.
One of the key values of delivering a conference or meeting using a hybrid model is to achieve a lower carbon footprint for your event.
According to a report published on the MeetGreen’s UnCarbon Calculator website, which was used on the virtual version of the 2020 event UN Global Compact Uniting Business Live, going virtual saved 1,136,493 kilograms in CO2 emissions, with air travel being the biggest contributor by far.
Going hybrid with a smaller in-person audience means you’ll cut down on everything that produces waste and pollutes the planet, such as food and beverages, electricity, printouts, paper, plastic, booth structures and more, saving the environment in the process.
To access the full Hybrid is Now report, head here