Whatever we think ‘hybrid’ is today, it won’t matter in five years time as we’ll all simply be calling them events, concluded the panel in today’s Confex session entitled ‘What the hell is hybrid?’.
Vanessa Lovatt, chief evangelist at Glisser, Jez Paxman, content director for Live Union, Chris Mitchell, vice president of operations for Intrado and Stephanie Selesnick, president of International Trade Information, had all been discussing different definitions of hybrid events with the co-founder and director of the Virtual Events Institute, Simon Burton.
Paxman told the audience: “We are in an experimentation phase with hybrid formats and it’s up to us to get out there and try different ways to engage multiple audiences, experiencing the event from different locations.
“Clients are excited that events have finally become the last communications channel to be digitised, providing more accountability, more inclusivity and more data. As a result, they are currently willing to forgive mistakes made in the experimentation of hybrid but, just as with virtual just a few months into the pandemic, the window of forgiveness closes fast.”
Lovatt agreed. “This is an opportunity to expand the horizons of events by surrounding a central activity with digital activation, which provides meaningful value to your audience for 365 days of the year,” she said.
“It’s your audience that should define what hybrid means to you,” Lovatt continued. “If, for example, you deliver event programmes for the pharmaceutical or healthcare sector, you may require more in-depth content accompanied by downloadable assets or technical briefings. If, on the other hand, you plan for more creatively-driven events, you may want to incorporate collaborative brainstorming sessions, workshops or networking.”
Intrado’s Mitchell concurs that no matter how good virtual event platforms have now become, it doesn’t change the fact that online viewers are judging events by their content.
“Planners need to focus more than ever on the goals and objectives of stakeholders since content now sits on the frontline of virtual and hybrid events – with viewers having direct access without the distractions of venue, exhibitors or the show-floor bar,” he said. “Hybrid has brought into focus how important content is for year-round audience engagement but at the end of the day, events are still events and this is just the next iteration for planners to enhance their skills.”