Hybrid events are the new normal.
According to Hopin data, 52% of event professionals plan on hosting hybrid events in 2021 and beyond.
Why? Because hybrid events provide the best of both worlds: the human connection and engagement power of in-person and the reach, inclusiveness, and data of virtual.
Event professionals learned a lot during the pandemic—especially about the utility and unique value of virtual events.
Rather than leaving these lessons behind as the world re-opens, they will apply these learnings in a post-pandemic environment, when in-person gatherings return.
In this article, we explore the 8 key benefits of hybrid events—and why you should consider them when crafting your events strategy.
Key benefits of hosting hybrid events
1. Greater reach
Adding a virtual layer to your event allows you—as well as your sponsors—to reach a much larger audience at a relatively low cost. You aren’t limited by the size of a physical venue or by the ability of your audience to travel to your event.
Instead, you can attract a geographically distributed audience, who can join your event virtually. For example, the Atlantic Festival was able to attract 12x more attendees when it shifted from an in-person event to an online event.
Hosting a hybrid event allows you to accommodate a portion of your audience onsite, while enabling a larger audience to participate via an online experience.
This allows you to scale your event investment—so you can dramatically expand brand awareness, lead generation, and revenue, without having to incur the costs from accommodating the same size audience in person.
2. Revenue generation
The expanded reach can translate to greater revenue.
If one of your event objectives is to drive revenue, you can monetize your new audience via ticket sales. Whether you offer a single online ticket type or multiple ticket types that correspond to various levels of access, ticketing allows you to produce an immediate return on your event investment.
The Hopin event platform provides event marketing solutions, including tools for registration and ticketing. Learn more here.
A larger audience also generates opportunities to grow sponsorship revenue. With a hybrid event, sponsors and exhibitors can engage an onsite audience, online audience, or both. For example, at Hopin Illuminate, G2 hosted an onsite booth at our physical venue in Los Angeles, as well as a virtual booth on the Hopin event platform.
In addition to audience size, a hybrid event can deliver deeper event analytics—via the virtual event platform—giving sponsors and exhibitors greater insight into the event audience. This adds to the value of a hybrid event for sponsors, which can help drive sponsor participation and grow revenue.
Beyond immediate revenue, the expanded audience of a hybrid event also helps grow long-term revenue, by generating leads that can be nurtured to later convert into customers.
3. Cost-efficiency and expanded ROI
By growing your event audience without significantly increasing your event costs, hybrid events allow you to achieve greater event ROI.
Generally, virtual events cost less to produce, in terms of time, money, and effort. Adding a virtual layer to your live event allows you to scale your event—to bring in a larger audience at a lower marginal cost per attendee (because that new audience is joining virtually).
Additionally, savings on event budgets—on line items like travel and accommodations for speakers—can be reinvested in event content, such as bringing in top-notch speakers.
By increasing the quality and value of your event programming, you can potentially attract an even wider audience, helping grow ROI even further.
4. Wider participation
As with virtual events, hybrid events give presenters, sponsors, and attendees the flexibility to join from anywhere in the world.
This can help improve the quality of your event, because you can attract top-shelf speakers who might not be able to attend your event in-person.
At the same time, by creating a more inclusive experience, you can enrich your event with a diversity of perspectives and avoid natural biases that might emerge among groups in a specific geographic area.
That inclusiveness extends to accessibility considerations. Participants may not be able to attend an in-person event due to physical or health reasons. With a virtual option, they can nonetheless join the program, contribute to its conversations, and engage with sponsors.
Using an event platform like Hopin, remote attendees can also do more than just tune in. They can interact with the content, speakers, and other attendees via tools like one-on-one video networking, video and text-based Q&A, polls, chat, etc.
Ultimately, granting greater access to your event—including enabling all onsite and online attendees to actively engage with the event—helps grow brand affinity and loyalty.
5. Event analytics and audience data
Hybrid events that use an event platform can also generate valuable event and audience data—which you can use to optimize future events as well as broader content, marketing, and business strategies.
An event platform like Hopin surfaces insights into how your attendees interact with event content. This includes data on:
- Ticket sales
- Stage visitors
- Session visitors
- Expo booths, including visitors and form-fills
- Networking participation
- Number of connections made
- Average time spent in the event or individual sessions
- In-session engagement such as comments
- Chat transcripts
- Stage visitors
- Average user rating (NPS) and feedback
Hopin’s recent acquisition of Attendify will serve to expand our event analytics, including through our launch of Audience CRM. Learn more here.
As discussed above, these audience insights also create greater value for potential sponsors and exhibitors, which can help grow sponsorship revenue.
6. More connections
One of the core advantages of an in-person event is the person-to-person contact that helps drive new connections among attendees. Hybrid events preserve that benefit by including an in-person component, while also generating new opportunities for people to connect virtually.
Virtual event platforms like Hopin act as the bridge between the onsite and online experiences of hybrid events. They allow online attendees to network with other online attendees, as well as providing opportunities for online attendees to reach out to onsite attendees, and vice versa. The virtual venue even helps onsite attendees find and connect with other onsite attendees.
All of these elements provide a fluid experience so that all attendees have the opportunity to make more connections, have meaningful conversations, and network.
Hybrid events let you engage a large segment of your audience virtually. Adding that virtual component gives your event scale while keeping your carbon footprint in check.
The result of providing both onsite and online attendance opportunities is not having 100% of your audience there in person. Ultimately, that means less travel, reduced pollution, and less waste from the physical event venue––all without sacrificing greater reach.
8. Community building
Hosting a hybrid or virtual event creates opportunities to engage with and foster connections among attendees long after the event is over.
With Hopin, you can use the analytics, registration lists, and data you gather to relationship build with your audience through emails, social media, sharing content, promoting future events, and more.
This post-event engagement can have a big impact on your business, helping you gather leads, nurture prospects, and build your brand.
Hybrid event examples
You can use the hybrid structure for events of any size, including:
- Recruiting events and career fairs
- Trainings and workshops
- Internal meetings and team kickoffs
- Large-scale conferences and summits
- Expos and trade shows
- Weddings, social gatherings, and community events
When you add an interactive online element to your onsite event, all participants get real-time event content, engagement and conversations.
As we look toward a post-pandemic world, we have the opportunity to pioneer new ways of coming together and connecting people––no matter where they are or what limitations they face.
Hybrid events bring wide reach, high engagement, and business impact. They help break down geographical, physical, and financial barriers, while capturing the energy of being together in person.
For a more in-depth look at the hybrid model and to learn how you can host a hybrid event, download our Hybrid Events Guide.