The hybrid tide will lift all boats

Whether you view them as tanks on the lawn or game-changing saviours, online event platforms are redefining the way we do business in this industry. One need only look at the major investment from private equity and peripheral players (LinkedIn, Cisco) to realise we are living through a sea-change in the way international events are conceived and presented.

But if this is the way the wind is blowing, then what constitutes a winning hybrid strategy?

Virtual events present many advantages to our industry. They are more cost-effective, more sustainable and more inclusive – allowing a much larger, international audience to attend. The innovation they enable such as AI matchmaking and personalisation is here to stay.

Face-to-face events, meanwhile, represent an undeniable high-point in engagement with communities, visitors and exhibitors able to network and forge deeper relationships than is usually possible in a purely online environment.

The hybrid strategy is one that aims to take the advantages from the one, and combine it with the other; blending the best bits of live and digital to create digital-infused experiences. 

This does not necessarily mean a virtual and physical event taking place simultaneously, an online and physical meeting schedule is a juggling act we don’t have to impose. 

However, the benefits digital brings to an event remain clear:

  • Audience Growth

By allowing online access, many events have reported increasing overall attendance by as much as 70 percent. Audiences become more diverse as attendance grows from remote locations and those who are physically impaired through assistive technology.

  • Reduced costs

In the book Reinventing Live, AUMA and AMR analysis suggests that the fully loaded  cost savings for an exhibitor or sponsor if a virtual event compared to physical represents a cost saving of 65%. 

  • 99% more sustainable

A virtual exhibition creates less than one percent of the carbon emissions (CO2-eq) of a physical trade show.

  • Access to more data points

Virtual events have given us a wealth of data points at every step of the attendee and exhibitor journeys.

  • Buying and selling has shifted online

Buying no longer happens within a three-day window, forcing exhibition organisers to consider how to connect buyers and sellers year-round to stay relevant.

  • Pandemic proof

Buying no longer happens within a three-day window, forcing exhibition organisers to consider how to connect buyers and sellers year-round to stay relevant.

Year-round digital engagement breeds brand familiarity and allows for greater versatility, an omnichannel strategy with live moments as highlights.

ExpoPlatform’s 365 Community solutions can help grow your professional community and create a seamless journey for buyers and sellers between live, hybrid and online events all year-round. 

When someone wants a product or service, the successful sellers will be those able to present them with an immediate solution, not a date for their diary.

Time for a change

Coming into this period of change brought about by Covid-19, event insight consultancy Explori data painted a dismal picture of our industry, recording the global net promoter score for exhibitors at a sobering minus 18. Well, if Bill Gates is right in his assertion that “our most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”, then the mainstream acceptance of a hybrid strategy may address this exhibitor discontent. 

In an increasingly unpredictable world, being able to offer both strong physical events and digital channels gives them new options to consider and grants organisers the resilience and flexibility they need to supply them.

The best of both types of organiser will benefit from hybrid events in the long run.

For more information, ExpoPlatform’s ebook ‘The Hybrid Blueprint’ explores some of the practical steps organisers can take to transform their business to a blended 365 model of digital and physical interactions that plays to the strengths of both, featuring interviews with a range of experts from across the industry.