Collaborate Global’s marketing and content manager, Ollie Biddle discusses what we thought we knew about hybrid versus what we now know.
In 2019 there were 533 searches on Google for the term ‘hybrid event’. In the last 12 months from August 2020 to August 2021 there have been 631 searches for the same term.
That means that hybrid events did exist before Covid, so why did it feel as though the industry suddenly became hybrid-central overnight? Well, quite simply it was the key that seemed to unlock every door, and there were a lot of closed doors in March 2020.
So, let’s go back to the beginning, here is what we thought going into April 2020.
- Would the whole industry turn hybrid?
- Will technology within the space move forwards leaps and bounds?
- Do we need to make a platform?
- Oh and, what exactly is hybrid defined as?
Well, bringing it back to the present day, we recently hosted a roundtable with industry experts, talking about putting audiences first regardless of the nature of the event.
The first question that was posed from Phil, an innovation director was – what does everyone define hybrid as?
Although hybrid did exist before, the industry is still working its way towards the definition of what a true hybrid event is, and how best to drive this forward with clients.
At our first hybrid event, alongside Aston Martin and Randox, we assumed that technology would be the driving force of the conversation. We were wrong.
We had an extended reality stage and we built augmented reality into the event itself, but the lesson we take from this event nearly 12 months on is that your audience and their needs still have to come first.
The tech aspect of hybrid events peaked quickly, and this will catch-up in time. But for all the right reasons, events have been stripped of the bells and whistles to allow more focus on connectivity.
Do we need to make a platform? If you are an event organiser, I would put my Nando’s black card on the fact that you had the same question float around a meeting you were in.
Quite quickly the industry learned that, much like it’s not about the tech, it’s also not about the platform.
Rather than trying to build the next greatest thing, we have become more transparent around our partnership with apps like Hopin, which in turn means that more time and effort can be spent on content and the user experience.
One thing that we carry forward into 2022 is managing the client’s objectives.
Hybrid shouldn’t be chosen just because it is the new kid on the block. We will see a huge shift in the growth of hybrid events, most notably in 2023 and beyond.
The world will return to in-person events and brands will connect with their audiences face-to-face again. But then as the dust settles there will be time for reflection on the dark and gloomy days of 2020, reminiscing of virtual events that put you in ‘the room’ with global audiences, allowed for a wider reach and offered multi-tier paid content.
These times don’t seem so bad now that you are on the other side. A smile appears on your face as the two worlds merge together in your mind and suddenly your next live event has the potential of all the positive additions that can be offered with a virtual audience, and in that moment, your hybrid event journey begins.