Hybrid events of the future will feature meaningfully integrated experiences for virtual and physical attendees. They will combine the irreplaceable magic of in-person and the benefits of virtual, along with personalised and immersive experiences to individual participants rather than delivering the same cookie-cutter event.
No longer are participants simply consuming content as part of the audience but instead, actively connected to the hosts, speakers, organisers, exhibitors and are also able to network with each other.
Marrying the physical with the virtual
During the first 10 months of 2020, global tourism suffered a staggering loss of US$935 billion, with the business events sector among the worst hit. However, there is growing optimism within the events industry, with Asia Pacific (APAC) expected to recover global revenues that are 121% higher than 2020 figures.
This optimistic outlook can be largely credited to the rise of virtual and hybrid events, which allowed organisers to hold large-scale gatherings despite physical limitations.
Hybrid events marry both the physical and virtual formats, giving participants the flexibility to choose the format they please. While many people are looking forward to attending in-person events when restrictions ease and borders open, the unpredictability of the Covid-19 situation still makes physical events a risky proposition.
This is where virtual events come to save the day, offering a strong sense of security for the organisers, and the participants that the events will continue to take place irrespective of the situation.
Digital transformation paved the way for the rebirth of the events industry with a reimagined model. With the hybrid format, not only are participants able to attend without having to leave the comfort of their homes or offices, but event organisers also have access to a windfall of data and insights generated from event analytics which can be used to deliver more personalised, and exciting event experiences.
Traditionally, the success of physical events was measured through event attendees, the number of vendors exhibiting, or post-event feedback surveys.
Now, hybrid event analytics can turn huge volumes of attendee data into understandable and often actionable insights that help demonstrate ROI and attendee engagement.
Over time, event planners and organisers continuously improve in-event marketing tactics to match the preferences of returning attendees.
Studies suggest that the appetite for hybrid events is going strong. APAC participants are more than twice as likely to have participated in virtual or hybrid events compared to other regions, with a greater proportion of organisers in APAC (38%) planning to simultaneously stream their in-person events, compared to their North American counterparts (17%).
Furthermore, nearly 80% of APAC organisers planned for their in-person and virtual audiences to interact, compared with 27% of North American planners.
Developing rich event insights
An advantage of a virtual event is the ability to access data from multiple touchpoints, enabling organisers to truly understand the success of the event.
This provides them with granular details allowing them to understand how different elements of the event perform, identify gaps and issues, and address them in future events.
There are numerous areas that a hybrid events platform can draw data from, such as the number of logins and a breakdown of new users and active users.
It also covers sessions, providing metrics on the number of total unique views, video replays, total unique replays, number of users who liked each session, and even how many made notes per session.
It records the registrations per session, the number of chat engagements that took place and the impressions that the Q&As delivered.
Networking sessions also bring useful insights to organisers. Success can be measured through breakdowns of attendee interests and the industries they come from, along with the volume of messages exchanged, and meetings that took place.
Even the success and appeal of event speakers can also be assessed such as the average speaker ratings, downloads per file, likes, speaker shares and the number of attendees who took notes during the speech, which will then help organisers decide whether they should book these speakers for future events.
Other areas where data-driven metrics help evaluate the event’s success include the number of activities taking place on the feed panel, virtual business card exchanges and other activities that took place in virtual booths and sessions that took place in each room, along with the duration.
Data from all these touchpoints have become increasingly valuable as organisers hold more events on the platform. As the count rises, organisers may find concrete findings that will help them make smart, informed decisions when planning future events.
Generating bankable ROI
Hybrid event platforms that provide detailed analytics are already enabling organisers to continually improve and refine their events to deliver maximum engagement from attendees and better ROI for them.
Over the past year, organisers have come to recognise those analytics is a crucial component to understanding the success of every event, be it offline, online or in a hybrid format, and will serve as an important backbone for future event strategies.
The hybrid events space may still be in its infancy, but we have witnessed its accelerated growth in a short span of time. It is unlikely to slow down anytime soon as event platforms integrate innovative approaches to enhance event experiences.
And in time, emerging and exciting technologies such as facial recognition, sentiment analytics, attendee-specific personalisation, gamification, and social media synchronisation, can only broaden the potential of event analytics and further reinvent the way we do events.
Finally, once you find the right match, selecting a long-term platform provider to partner with has many advantages, since there are so many new components to this changing landscape.
And since it’s their business, an innovative platform partner is always thinking ahead about how to evolve to raise the bar even higher so they can bring those and several other solutions to you.