Over the past two years, the events industry has undergone a tremendous amount of growth and change as a result of the pandemic. Post-pandemic, the newfound popularity of hybrid events has offered a valuable opportunity for organizations. By combining both in-person and virtual components, hybrid events can cater to different audiences and create a unique and flexible experience. However, these events can also be costly, require more planning, and have nuances that other event formats do not. As the world settles into a post-pandemic reality, organizations have been left with the tough decision of choosing which format is most advantageous for their event: in-person, virtual, or hybrid. While there are benefits and drawbacks to each, there are also many other factors to consider when choosing which format best suits your event.
While a hybrid format may seem like the perfect option, it is not always the most valuable. Is hybrid the answer for your next event? Keep reading to find out some key considerations when making a decision.
One of the main factors to consider when planning an event is your budget. Expenses have increased substantially since pre-pandemic times due to inflation and labour shortages across different service industries. When hosting a hybrid event, there are many cost-related variables to keep in mind. Some considerations could include production value (lighting, set design and camera quality), the number of sessions being streamed (live streamed or ability to view on demand), and whether you plan to offer virtual “swag bags” to attendees, all of which can be costly and require in-depth planning when coupled with an in-person event. Additionally, if the event needs to meet certain in-person numbers to break-even, does offering a virtual option run the risk of cannibalizing the in-person numbers, or will it allow you to expand your reach and increase revenue?
Something else to consider is how post-pandemic times have impacted people’s behaviours and desires. “Pandemic fatigue” can apply in this situation – people may be tired of virtual events and staying at home, wanting to enjoy more time in-person now that restrictions have lifted. On the other hand, virtual tickets may cost less money and require less travel time, which may appeal to some of your audience, and makes the event more accessible to a greater number of people. Be cautious when making projections, recognizing that historical event data may not be an accurate baseline as you establish your organization in a post-pandemic world.
Lastly, it is important to identify industry trends and ask the right questions when choosing which format is best. What is your audience interested in? An easy way to find this out is by conducting a survey. We recommend surveying your audiences to make sure that your programming addresses their wants, needs, desires, budgets, and expectations of your organization. Will you be able to make the event engaging and inclusive in a hybrid format? Consider the value of the content being presented, the format of the event itself (small, interactive workshops vs. one plenary speaker), as well as the networking and learning opportunities that it provides for attendees. And finally, remember – don’t go hybrid for the sake of it! Do your research ahead of time when determining if this will be the most valuable way to run your event.
At Redstone, we are experts in planning events of all formats. Contact us today to get started planning your next event!