What is a hybrid event?
In July 2020, we surveyed hundreds of webinar participants to understand the challenges trade show and event marketers were facing during the pandemic. Not surprisingly, 32% of respondents stated they saw pivoting to virtual as their biggest challenge and their biggest opportunity. In that same survey, 23% said they struggled to evolve their exhibit and event experience. Considering the abrupt shift to virtual, these statistics are hardly a surprise.
Nearly a year later, the world is returning to “normal.” However, there is still demand for virtual experiences to extend your reach, giving trade show and event marketers the opportunity to explore a more blended, omnichannel approach for customer connection.
The plunge into virtual events and experiences changed people’s expectations for what an event can be. Although not every experience was perfect, there were many things event planners and attendees liked about virtual events…and those things don’t need to go away.
The harmonizing of online and in-person experiences to yield an overall richer experience for all.
A hybrid approach to event planning can provide marketers the best of both worlds – the immersive experience of face-to-face marketing, coupled with the ability for busy or remote executives to participate from miles away. But it’s more than that. A hybrid event should be part of a new marketing philosophy; one that breaks down walls between marketing, sales, and technology. We call this approach the Infinity Loop.
The Infinity Loop is a new way to think about your event marketing strategy. It takes a hybrid approach that includes various combinations of traditional events and exhibits, virtual connections, or mobile / pop-up environments, all with a goal of connecting with your audiences wherever they may be. For example:
- Use a virtual event as a teaser or follow-up to the live, in-person event. You could provide virtual teasers of what visitors can expect to see and experience once they are on site and incentivize visits to your booth. Your virtual presence can also be used to follow up with attendees you might have missed, or extend your relevant message to those who may not normally attend the trade show.
- Broadcast signature moments, announcements, presentations, or performances during in-person events. This will help virtual event attendees feel like they are a part of the event, just as they would if they were physically there. Make sure you apply the interest curve to keep virtual attendees engaged.
- Offer VIP-level virtual experiences to prioritized audiences. Most businesses plan private meetings with significant clients or prospects to make important connections and develop partnerships. In the past, this only worked if every VIP was physically attending the trade show. With the acceptance of hybrid environments, businesses can make connections with decision makers who are unable to attend a trade show in person.
Another advantage of taking a hybrid approach is longevity. Digital assets can live on reps’ tablets or interactive kiosks, serving as one-on-one sales tools and maximizing your investment.
A hybrid event – one that can be accessed by both in-person and online audiences – offers an opportunity to deliver a more streamlined, satisfying, efficient, and integrated user experience. Think of a hybrid event as an opportunity to meet your customers where they are, physically and emotionally. Although there can be more planning and technology involved in a hybrid strategy, what doesn’t change is our need to connect with one another with a goal of driving business forward. A hybrid event strategy can help make that happen.
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