It’s not all about Digital Events, it’s about going Hybrid
The end is nigh, the end of Lockdown that is. Most of us are counting the days I’m sure. Yes, we all know that one person who is loving being at home but most of us are over it. We’re ready to get back into the office, to focus and concentrate on our work again. Its tough to work from home, work life balance is challenging. Screen fatigue is a real thing, everything you consume is delivered to you through a screen, all day, every day. It can get exhausting.
So yes, the end is nigh and soon we will be able to see each other in person again, sure from a safe distance and behind a mask which every corporate is going to brand as the ‘new’ corporate gifting idea but at least we’ll be in the same building again, able to chat and slowly but surely find the next ‘new’ normal.
As we slowly begin to see that light at the end of the tunnel, the reality is that we are likely facing a long, drawn out period of rapidly changing variables and restrictions on both a local & global scale. Decisions driven by testing, demographics of audiences and infection rates will be as critical in the planning cycle as budget, strategy and content.
Some people will have been infected, tested, recovered, hopefully no longer passing on the virus, they will become the engine room of our economy. They will want to travel, to meet, to attend events and interact in a physical space again. Meanwhile, a large number of people will still be working from home, under travel restrictions, web conferencing, and attending events virtually (hopefully if not with a newfound love of participating this way, at least an understanding of its necessity).
For a significant length of time, your delegates, colleagues and teams will be split between those willing and able to attend physically with those who have to attend remotely – a hybrid audience!
It’s likely the shift ‘back to normal’ will be gradual, from meetings that are primarily virtual and very partially in person, through a 50/50 scenario, to physical events augmented by virtual guests and then finally back to hosting your whole audience in the venue again.
This means a changing shape of event structure, with nobody really sure of the pace of that change. This creates uncertainty in businesses – particularly those that are heavily dependent on the actions of large teams to drive and deliver their business goals.
So in this uncertain environment event planning has become a slightly more complicated process – you are still going to need your event planners, content developers, skilled AV technicians, a quality MC and drawcard speakers but most of all a solid strategic planner to help you deliver the content to your team correctly but now you need to be planning all of this for delivery live and digitally, using a quality delivery platform as well as a digital management team onsite too – a true hybrid event.
In the short term, it means existing, familiar event websites, registration platforms, CRMs and marketing automation software can be used as normal. These systems are so critical to the traditional event tech stack, that hybrid event solutions must focus on plugging into them. Keeping these solutions in play will get your events up and running quickly in a predominantly virtual environment.
In the medium term, there will be this period of unknown length where events will be hybrid, based upon the scenario outlined above. Event organizers ideally do not want to be running both a virtual platform and, very separately, a set of in-room tools (event apps, matchmaking apps, traditional PowerPoint sessions, etc.) doubling their workload and adding a great deal of complexity. In-room solutions that have hybrid options through video integrations are the new standard here.
Finally, in the long term, there is some genuine positivity to come out of this for those focused on events in corporate.
By adopting the hybrid model along with a close partner and hybrid technology, corporates will finally be able to take the opportunity to blend the physical and virtual audience experience, using consistent data-driven insights both off and online. Without the constraints of ‘business as usual’ and fear of change, the fine balancing act of introducing digital innovation into established physical events begins now.
The companies that get this virtual/hybrid decision and implementation right will come out of this situation far stronger because of it and the strategic options it affords them right now.