As Q1 2022 ends, brands ramp up planning for their events and conferences that will carry them through the rest of the year. Amidst the uncertainty, experiential marketers indulge in a pursuit to discover the latest strategies that tap into the full potential of the hybrid event experience. With live events making a huge comeback and virtual events remaining a top alternative, substantive shifts within the experiential industry have occurred. This drove the acceptance of more innovative and more immersive experiences, currently known as hybrid events. Flexible solutions and savvy strategies have all sprouted from the pandemic out of necessity. The influx of new creative angles has disrupted the market, and everyone wants a piece of the latest trend. Is social distancing now in the past? Will all live events return to in-person meetings? The answer is much more complex than a yes or no, and black and white rhetoric is insufficient for a proper solution.
Remote work paved the way for hybrid work, which presented opportunities for companies to get creative. Now brands understand that events, brand activations, summits, trade shows, conventions, etc., don’t have to be physical or virtual. Within the series of challenges, there’s a balance that organizations must discover to create the right combination of live and virtual elements based on client needs, plans, and audiences. Ultimately, a collection of these components is what the market is demanding from experiential event companies. FG|PG shares the strategies to overcome the disadvantages that interfere with the experiences shown for experiential events. Here are the fundamentals to think about when planning for a hybrid event strategy in 2022 and the future.
Preparing for the Hybrid Event Future
One thing that hybrid events have taught us is the ability to help build and foster a solid global community that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. They present you with the opportunity to mix both live and virtual experiences, venture with diverse arrangements, and engage interpersonally and virtually, which presents new challenges in successfully broadening your event experiences with the hybrid strategies. The best way to develop a system with substantive experiences is by determining the goals and milestones of each event in a bigger picture. Due diligence of these specific questions would serve as a helpful initiation of the process. What is the event? Will it involve informational sessions or meetings? What is the purpose? Etc.
Defining your goals and the intentions of every party involved provides experiential marketers with an accurate evaluation of how to execute the hybrid event efficiently. Distinguishing the difference between a personal experience and an experience sharing the company story to the entire world is vital. Experiential marketers will flourish by narrowing down the target and creating an exclusive gathering for each audience.
With 2 decades in delivering live events, and now two years delivering virtual and hybrid, having worked with various platforms and even creating our own – we’ve developed a checklist to help you maximize your live event with hybrid integration.
Determine and Prioritize your Target Audiences
The quality of an event can be almost senseless if the promotion cannot reach the proper consumers or targets. Hence, businesses need to strategically plan the specific audience they intend to reach with their event. For instance, when developing an event for an audience that prefers in-person networking and business development, it would be essential to market the digital side of the event as a secondary alternative to the main live event. However, a content-based event can benefit from a virtual or primarily digital strategy, as it allows brands to have an extensive reach.
It’s important to note that a “one size fits all” approach is not possible with hybrid experiences; therefore, experiential planners must consider being flexible while planning this event. Ensuring the development of an advertising campaign that is catered only to both the live and virtual audiences will be critical for expanding the reach of your message on a larger scale. Mapping out your target audience will serve as a crucial prerequisite for success.
Abide by the Bottom-line
The latest hybrid experiences require a lot of creativity, flexibility, and vision; however, financial limitations are an essential factor that everyone must consider first. Although in some cases, virtual events may have less overhead, hosts can retrieve less revenue from sponsors and consumers. Considering we are facing inflation within shipping and logistics for materials, tools, and structures. While physical events may reel in more sponsors, they may not reach the value of an online experience that will record and share valuable sessions with those that could not attend.
Unless organizers have an unlimited budget, they should identify which event is worth the investment and brainstorm ways to deliver a hybrid event efficiently. Offering an experience that would achieve their goals while not breaking the bank is the end goal for an event of this caliber. Although 2022 is expected to be a year of trial and error in the hybrid space, finding the balance is essential as we navigate a new spectrum of events.
Ultimately, understanding the benefits of both live and virtual events will allow organizers to leverage their companies’ extensive event strategies to excel in the industry. Virtual and live audiences should remember the experience at the same level and move forward with what the event sets out to convey.