Why hybrid events are here to stay
Covid-19 has turned the events sector upside down and inside out. If organisers haven’t moved their physical events into 2021, the majority of them have spent the last few months exploring digital solutions for their 2020 portfolios.
Whether the reason is to replace a physical event, or to hedge one’s bets by presenting a hybrid solution later this year, the latter option is fast emerging as beneficial, even after – fingers and everything else crossed – Covid-19 disappears as a threat.
- They will extend your audience
Offering an event online undoubtedly increases the size of audience; imagine how many people have been unable to attend your physical event due to its location, their budget for attending events just got cut, or something ‘just came up’.
Or, consider the months that will follow the eagerly awaited #backtobusiness date for the events sector; even with this stamp of approval, organisers will be wary of company policies for staff travel or event attendance until the threat of Covid reaches Level 1 or 2.
Now they can all attend online; digital attendance can be tracked in exactly the same way as physical attendance. Organisers can expect to increase their pre-registration conversion above the 50% industry standard.
Organisers that have already delivered a virtual offering have admitted their events may never return to what they once were. Even though a virtual event will never replace the face to face magic experienced at a physical event – the very reason why the exhibition industry is worth £11bn – the growth in audience is not to be sniffed at. The hybrid event will be here to stay.
- They have revolutionised lead gen
Lead gen has long been the measurement of success of a show for exhibitors. The focus has been on innovating the platform in recent years – from barcode readers to NFC badging or using a mobile device – making it easier for leads to be captured and for more qualitative data to be recorded. The introduction of gamification has also driven an audience to engage with exhibitors, thereby increasing leads.
In the same way hybrid events extend an audience, they also exponentially increase the number of leads an exhibitor generates. A virtual booth is an extension of the physical, another channel to engage with visitors and to capture leads. With nifty features in virtual booths – for example 121 chats with selected sales personnel, or a timed meeting booking facility – visitors can arguably achieve the same level of engagement with an exhibitor as they can onsite.
Add to the virtual booth the opportunity to matchmake exhibitors with visitors seeking their services, and lead gen will be further enhanced. Capturing visitor interests during the point of registration is the simplest way to matchmake them with relevant exhibitors on entrance to an event – either physically or virtually – presenting them with seamless options to connect or meet up via chat or scheduled meetings.
Organisers of recent virtual events have breathed a sign of relief; many reporting that their vendor audience have been more satisfied with the leads they have walked away with. Another compelling reason to ensure hybrid events are here to stay.
- They create a 365 value offering
So much effort is put into one or two days – the live event date(s) – that it is often overlooked to engage an audience all year round. Digital events do this with no effort!
All content, from seminars to workshops, to roundtables and exhibitors are available on a digital platform for as long as an organiser wishes for it to be accessible to their audience. It is an easy way to create a marketplace for deals, partnerships and ideas to be struck way beyond – or even before – a physical event.
Importantly, a longer term digital offering to complement the physical event will offer more value to vendors. With more opportunities to generate leads and engage with their content, it could just be the key to a faster re-book decision.
Have you found the right hybrid platform yet?
Circdata’s digital event platform is the perfect partner for your physical events; with features including intelligent matchmaking between visitors, exhibitors and sessions, content streamlining live or on demand, virtual exhibitor booths, private chat functionality and polling/Q&A during sessions, you can extend the reach of your audience with ease. For more information, get in touch.