11th Nov 2020
Virtual events became the event industry’s bread and butter during the worldwide COVID lockdowns and travel restrictions that took place during 2020...
The year became the ultimate trial period for the virtual event with major industry leaders suggesting that virtual events would continue to be the way forward.
But what about the in-person connection that many people are missing?
This is where hybrid events can take centre stage, creating the perfect bridge between in-person and online.
There are still many people who are on the fence when it comes to hybrid & virtual events, but we’re here to tell you that when you take a closer look there are numerous benefits to hosting these types of events which would be hard for any event organiser to pass up.
Increased reach, higher engagement, more sponsorship opportunities – are just the beginning of some of the benefits from hosting these events so you can see exactly why so many event hosts are making the jump into the virtual world to compliment or replace their in-person events going forward.
If you don’t have time to read the blog right now, then you can download our entire Event Strategy Guide and see exactly how virtual and hybrid events are crucial to your strategy to growing your business.
Hybrid events are a mix of live and virtual events. You’re able to take your live event, complete with your audience and your content, and add a virtual component to it. This virtual component allows you to attract an entirely separate audience who can participate and engage with your event, no matter where they are or how they are viewing it.
A crucial aspect of a hybrid event is the engagement with both your online and live audience. This means treating both audiences equally and ensuring they get the most from the event. So pay close attention to your attendee journey and recognise that the journey will differ for both types of attendees as what encouraged your online audience to attend may be different to that of your live.
A virtual event is an online event that replicates a physical location-based event. It gives you the opportunity to host or attend an event from the comfort of your home or office using only a mobile phone, tablet, laptop and an internet connection. Even with virtual events there are different event types within this umbrella term, with some involving more interaction.
Some of the virtual events you may be familiar with are the likes of webinars, online exhibitions and virtual meetings. Each of these events can have a differing level of engagement with the audience as well as different technology requirements, so is easily customisable to an event hosts individual set-up.
WEBINAR – Amongst the most simple of virtual events, webinars are presentations with attendee Q&A at the end.
WEBINAR PLUS – Extending the concept of a simple webinar, additional content i.e. guests is introduced for greater impact.
CONTENT AND CONNECT – A webinar or webinar series with time for networking before or after the event for attendees.
SUMMIT / CONFERENCE – A collaborative and participatory event broken into multiple sessions with presentations, panels and Q&A’s.
EXHIBITION – A collection of businesses showcasing their products or services whilst being able to interact with the audience.
FESTIVAL – Musical performances from multiple artists with little to none audience interaction.
By hosting a live event with an online component, or just a virtual event, it means for the first time your event’s attendees and popularity isn’t dictated by where it’s held.
One of the biggest reasons why people don’t attend events is because of location. After ticket costs, your potential attendees have to factor in travel, hotels, childcare, time off work…the list of additional costs and complications simply proves too much for many potential customers.
While some attendees will travel in order to attend events, being localised to a single region at any one time puts you at a disadvantage.
A study by ‘The Streaming Network’ found that nearly 98% of attendees at a hybrid event were not planning to attend live, meaning that your event is able to reach an entirely new audience who either is uninterested in attending your live event or is unsure of its benefits. This may help boost your attendance in future events, as some people may choose to ‘sample’ your event online one year, which later encourages them to attend live the next time.
A hybrid or virtual event means you can hold one single event aimed at a global audience while removing any potential barriers that come with actually attending your event live.
Many people would wrongly assume that hosting an event online would have a drastic effect on the engagement with your audience, but in fact adding a virtual element to your live event or hosting your event entirely online instead opens up many more engagement opportunities than would be possible at a strictly live event. Both during and post-event.
Although a live event gives your audience the opportunity to network in person and connect on a more personal level, a virtual audience have the ability to actively participate from their mobile devices or computer. Which often results in them talking much more, sharing, liking and commenting on what they are seeing.
You can even host polls during sessions and Q&A’s which leads to increased audience engagement as well as creating dedicated networking times so your audience can interact with one another.
Whether that be helping your live audience connect with your virtual audience or whether your event is entirely online.
Including an online element to your event also gives you the opportunity to make your content last longer. Nothing lasts forever, and in-person events are no different.
In-person events are a one time event and that kind of value proposition weighs heavily on a lot of your attendee’s decision making. They have to weigh up the cost of the ticket, travel and more; all against the value they will get from trying to fit in as much as they can at your event.
But by recording your content, whether that’s live or in person, you then have the ability to make your content available long after your event has taken place. Giving your attendees the opportunity catch up on anything they might have missed or to re-watch their favourite sessions. Providing increased value for money and longevity to your event.
Event sponsorship is an incredibly effective way of increasing the visibility of a brand, and therefore businesses look very carefully to partner with the right event as it can be the ideal way for a business to connect with prospective clients, future stakeholders whilst also getting a glimpse into what their competition may be doing.
Therefore ensuring that your event is attractive to sponsors and likely of addressing any needs they have is crucial. Hybrid and virtual events are incredibly valuable to sponsors for the same reason it is for the event organisers, an increased global audience. By having more attendees at your event, you are giving your sponsors a larger lead pool, which is ultimately the number one reason for sponsorship.
You can also provide an area for sponsors to communicate 1:1 with any interested parties, even through an online platform.
This means sponsors and attendees don’t miss out on the personable element which usually comes with a live event. You might find that this leads to increased communication as some demographics, particularly Millennials, favour virtual communication which may lead to increased participation at a virtual sponsorship booth.
By hosting a hybrid or virtual event, you as an event host, will also have more flexibility in terms of the sponsorship prospectus that you put together. With the opportunity to offer a more varied number of packages, for live sponsors, virtual sponsors or both.
One of the greatest risks for any event are the upfront costs, most of which go towards the venue. These can easily run into the tens of thousands because there’s such high demand for venues, often these all have to be booked and a proportion paid months in advance before any tickets or sponsorships have been sourced.
The event industry is known for being high risk, primarily because of the amount of initial investment that needs to be put upfront before the event takes place and then recuperates all of its costs.
Of course, events mitigate these risks by selling tickets well in advance and securing sponsorship in order to cover the initial development costs, but there is still a huge risk posed whenever an event takes place. With such a high initial investment, there’s a big risk to you if your event is cancelled early or if sales are dwindling due to factors outside of your control.
ith a virtual event there is no venue cost, just imagine tens of thousands of pounds worth of expenses simply vanishing from your budget.
The only costs you incur are the costs of renting the platform to broadcast your event which can be as little as £79.99 a month. And unlike a venue, you can cancel those costs at any time and keep the platform as long as you want.
Having a virtual venue compared to a physical one really frees up your event. There’s no waiting list, no huge costs and no limitations to what you can do with is. A virtual venue is available to you for as long as you want at a fraction of the price.
Of course with a hybrid event, you do still have venue costs to consider, but by adding a virtual element it means your audience size increases and therefore your ticket sales increase in accordance. Maximising your events projected profit margin.
One of the greatest advantages of hosting a virtual or hybrid event is the ability to easily repurpose and reshare digital content to keep a steady stream flowing to your audience.
A live event remains primarily exclusive, meaning that people outside of your attending audience are rarely exposed to any element of the event, which makes prospective attendees buying into your event much more difficult.
For example with a hybrid or virtual event, you can share the entire livestream or select certain pieces of it to promote your future event.
Not only does this provide constant visibility to ticket holders (past, present and future) but it is also reassuring for sponsors so they are able to view everything about the event they have chosen or are considering being a part of.
Streaming your event also has the added benefit of ensuring you don’t forget to record anything, which then means your content is easily accessible to be reused at a later time. Whether that be selling tickets at a reduced cost for people wishing to attend a pre-recorded event or whether you want to include the content in a future marketing campaign.
Return on investment (ROI) is of ten hard to calculate for events as there are so many moving pieces.
However hybrid and virtual events offer increased return on investment, due mainly to the increased reach and the scalability.
With the larger attendee numbers you are able to attract through a hybrid or virtual event, this later translates into greater views for your sponsors and more sign ups for the event.
And you also have the added benefit of gaining lots of invaluable data to provide more accurate reporting on your events performance. So you can analyse what works and what doesn’t.
You then have the opportunity to consider whether there is potential to scale down your live event whilst scaling up your online presence. This allows you to reduce onsite costs while still reaching a large global audience. Greatly boosting your profit margin.
An enormous benefit of hybrid and virtual events are the data that you are able to gather and the insights it gives you in to your event.
With a virtual element to an event, you can analyse participation numbers, attendee engagement and viewing time per session.
Given the worldwide disruption for the event industry in 2020, running a sole in-person event carries greater risk than ever.
Without a virtual or hybrid event platform to fall back on, many events would be cancelled with your attendees looking elsewhere.
ReAttendance has been built by event hosts because we were unsatisfied with what virtual event platforms and services had to offer when it came to the experiences they provided. As event hosts, we know just how important the social element is to the core of a memorable event. However, so many virtual event platforms felt more like video-on-demand than a living, breathing event hosted online.
And with ReAttendance, it’s easier than ever to build that strong bridge to your audience and start delivering them experiences which they can enjoy from anywhere in the world, at a fraction of the cost of an in-person event.
The team at ReAttendance are here to show you every single feature of our platform. If you want to learn more about how ReAttendance can help you expand your audience and increase your revenue, then book a free demo today.
We can’t wait to show you around help you grow your business.
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