Hybrid meetings – tradeshow, conference, unconference, seminar, workshop or other meeting that combines the power of a “live” in-person event with a “virtual” online component – are constantly growing in popularity especially now. They challenge and change the way we view the meetings and events we attend and help us explore knowledge and engagement in a way that was inaccessible until recently.
We know that companies and associations are looking to extend their meetings to a virtual audience, and planners need the tools to plan and produce for both in-person and online audiences.
As we all know, it’s difficult for all interested participants to attend the many industry and professional development events. Even in this era of technology and virtual events, being everywhere you would like is simply impossible. And online meetings, regardless of how well organized, often lack one significant component: the human touch.
Let’s take the medical field for instance. As the world of wearables and other health related technologies continues to develop and become part of the norm, it is essential for medical professionals to be kept up-to-date. Often, however, medical meetings have such busy agendas, that it’s difficult for everyone to be present and let alone, actively participate. Virtual and hybrid meetings provide a useful and efficient equivalent to the old-fashioned conference and allows for participants who cannot attend in-person the ability to take in the event online.
Remote learning has been a popular option among various institutions for many years. Even before the pandemic, there were thousands of online courses on various topics – with colleges and universities also offering certificates and degrees upon completion – but hybrid meetings are bringing the idea of remote learning a step further.
With streaming technology becoming more affordable and the need to engage audiences regardless of their locations, and with cities/provinces/states beginning to open up, hybrid meetings are definitely filling a void. Although there is still much learning to be done, best practices are continuing to be challenged.
When it comes to monetization of hybrid meetings for example, it is important to understand your audience. Many organizations have attempted to charge a fee to their virtual attendees and it unfortunately resulted in lower attendance. The flip side is also true where we are seeing a free or paid event result in a 50% attendance rate.
From increased revenue to brand recognition, the benefits of enhancing a face-to-face experience with an online component are virtually limitless. Hybrid meetings are gradually strengthening their positions and changing the way we meet. By embracing hybrid meetings, we as planners are able to show that we have the skills necessary to address the expectations of our members while demonstrating a clear commitment to innovation and new ways of adding value to our meetings.