Unable to make it to Chicago for a conference? Is your business missing out on international sponsorship opportunities because they don’t have the budget to go abroad? Hybrid events are changing the industry and opening new doors for event planners, sponsors, and associations.
"Hybrid events are opening new doors for event planners, sponsors, and associations."
There’s no doubt that in-person events are extremely valuable in forming lasting business relationships. However, if you are unable to physically attend or participate everywhere in the world you would like to be, the quickly progressing trend of “hybrid” conferences, conventions, and trade shows is the solution.
GFC 2016 Global Finance & Credit Conference & Expo is set to take place at the end of August in Chicago and their message is that they are not like any other finance industry conference. This is because the conference and expo platform will use a hybrid approach to pull from a worldwide audience of business finance management professionals. The event features education and networking solutions via live AND virtual attendance.
The GFC2016 conference is not alone in its adoption of virtual technology, as event planners are realizing that they can reach a larger audience and increase future registrations with a hybrid approach.
According to James Parker in this PCMA interview, “An average of 23 percent of virtual attendees convert to physical attendees within the next 24 months.” Parker also says, “Our data shows that the larger your online audience, the more effectively you will drive future physical attendance.”
How Hybrid Events Benefit Attendees:
In the case of GFC2016, every educational session will be livestreaming for the virtual attendees. In the past, event organizers have circulated a “deck” of slides from their educational sessions. This was done after the event in order for attendees to take away the information they heard, and to pass it along to those who were not able to attend.
This is the technology of the past for event planning. With the hybrid approach, virtual attendees can watch the livestream of a presentation or speaker from anywhere, and reference back to the video after the presentation.
The benefits to virtual attendance work both ways. It allows speakers to present virtually, via a webcast, to both the virtual and live attendees. This means that speakers who may not be able to travel or who have a tight schedule can present virtually and not have to commit several days to actually attending a conference.
Event planners can also hold interactive online networking sessions so that all attendees and speakers (both live and virtual) can ask questions and discuss via livestream.
While in-person attendance and meaningful human interaction will always trump online participation, there is no downside to opening up to a wider audience for those who are unable to attend in person. It enhances the live attendee experience, creates more opportunity for engagement, and encourages future physical attendance.
Marketing Benefits of Hybrid Events:
The hybrid approach to events also opens up new opportunities for sponsors and exhibitors. By sponsoring or exhibiting at a hybrid event, they are visible to a wider audience than just the physical attendees. This increases ROI for sponsors and exhibitors by allowing them virtual access to global customers.
"Hybrid events increase ROI for sponsors by giving them virtual access to global customers."
Sponsors and exhibitors can also sponsor events virtually without the cost of attending global events. Hybrid events open new doors for a greater ROI on events that have a small market and would have been cost-prohibitive if done traditionally.
The hybrid event is an important feature for industries such as finance, which is very much a global market. The hybrid event makes it easy for representatives from China, Asia, Europe, and South America, for example, to get in front of industry leaders from around the world.
The Future of Hybrid Events:
Hybrid events are the way of the future for the meeting planning and event organizing industry. As meeting planners, we are always striving to create a great experience for our attendees. This approach, if used thoughtfully, has a huge upside potential for keeping your audience engaged and coming back year after year. It is an economical, scalable approach that opens new doors for everyone involved, both live and virtually.