The Hybrid Conference Model

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Written by Henry Dalziel

The Future For Conferences…


And – no.

Yes: because us humans are much better at socializing and networking.

And no: habits have been formed now that we’ve been away from the office and the “work environment for a long time now.

There’s no doubt that everyone has had a difficult last couple of years and most industries have been affected.

As I’m sure you’d imagine, the conferences and events sector has been especially hard hit by the pandemic.

In this post I’ll discuss some suggestions to how the future of conferences and events has been impacted and what it means for our industry.

The Conference Industry Was Struggling Before COVID

Owing to corporate budget cuts, increasingly increasing travel costs, worries about the effect on competitiveness, and other matters, conference participation is on the decline.

And – along came Covid.

Fast forward and we are now witnessing the gradual rollout of vaccines. We can (fingers crossed) starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel…we hope.

However, it does seem that we still have a long way to go before we can return to normalcy, indeed whatever the “new normal” means when it comes to events and conferences.

Within the conference marketing space, the greatest challenge remains in being able to run at full capacity.

During the height of the pandemic, virtual gatherings became vital, and my prediction is that this will happen even when physical meetings and activities resume. Delegates will meet in person while still engaging with those who cannot attend in person through video, audio, and interactive content sharing at hybrid events. New technology was still going to arrive, but the pandemic has hastened its arrival.

Being pushed to use hybrid events more often has allowed us to invent and develop new ways to run conferences and activities, and this isn’t a one-time thing. As a result of the increased audience, virtual activities would enable conferences, gatherings, and brands to be viewed by a much larger number of people.

The material can be recorded and reused, giving it a longer shelf life. It is expected to inspire businesses to spend more in their brand and messaging, which would help the business. It has brought about a significant and exciting shift in the way activities can be organized in the future.

Through a better understanding of what a simulated experience can now offer, we’ve seen a spike in hybrid event inquiries for not only the first quarter of 2021, but the whole year. It enabled us to launch a new product into an existing meetings market, serving as both an option and a novel way to host events.

The Best of Both

Although the number of attendees at physical meetings and activities is limited, hybrid events enable event planners to expand their scope without regard to geography. This saves money and makes the event more inclusive for both promoters and guests, which is a huge plus.

Hybrid activities have ushered in a brand new way of doing business in the future, as they provide a slew of new benefits to the market and are a cost-effective way to reach out to a wider audience. Face-to-face events aren’t going anywhere, but immersive events are a great choice when meeting in person isn’t feasible.

Let’s see how it rolls out in 2021 but it looks likely that we will continue to be virtual until further notice, and what happens after that will depend on factors like the appetite for travel as well as the actual “legal” abilities to travel with vaccine passports becoming a thing.

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