While it may seem like decades ago, the global events industry was riding quite the high wave during pre-pandemic times. In the UK alone, the events sector was easily worth more than £42.3 billion to the local economy and enjoyed a consistent rise of 8% annually.
Event planning companies and marketing experts were busy predicting further trends and areas of growth when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and shut us all indoors. All venues shut down, events were cancelled, and people were isolated in their homes to prevent the spread of this deadly virus.
But, all was not lost. Since the start of time, human beings have had a knack for making the best of every situation. Be it natural disasters, pandemics, or crashes in the global economy, we find a way to make things work in one way or another.
This was seen quite apparently at the start of the pandemic, with offices and schools rushing to switch to online modes of communication and work. Although the use of technology to broadcast events and improve attendance was already on the rise even before COVID-19, the pandemic took things a step further to ensure we moved to a solely virtual zone.
Online event platforms rose to the occasion to make up for the lack of in-person socialization. By optimizing different software and creating new platforms, event production companies made sure the world stayed connected, even with a highly contagious viral pandemic.
Coming back to the present-day world, we have now made it past the worst of the worst. The world is slowly returning to normal, or as normal as things can be, and we now have three different modes of conducting events. People often wonder which is the way of the future, so let’s figure it out today!
In-Person Events – Better Experience with Live Communication
Human beings are social animals, and we need in-person interactions to lead fulfilling lives. The pandemic has done a great job of emphasizing just how essential in-person communication is for all of us. There really is no better medium than face-to-face interactions that let you get the full experience of socializing with people in any setup.
We have all attended events just to seek out other like-minded people and interact with others who share interests with us. The real-life human factor allows us a chance to build relationships in a truly unmatched experience.
The Problems with In-Person Events
Unfortunately, in-person events come with numerous setbacks and limitations that often lead expert event planning companies to wonder if it’s even worth all the hassle. Firstly, you can only cater to a certain number of people and offer little-to-no flexibility.
Secondly, planning in-person events is an extremely detail-oriented, fast-paced job that comes with really high stakes. These events cost companies thousands of pounds each year but rarely deliver a healthy enough ROI.
The pandemic further put live events to a halt. The world soon realized that COVID-19 wasn’t going anywhere, so they either had to adapt or shut their doors. This adaption led to a massive increase in virtual events, which were already on the rise due to favourable characteristics.
Online Events – Reduced Operational Costs, Better Reach
The global events industry, including all major event production companies, had to welcome technology with open arms if they wanted to survive these troubling times. Events, conferences, business meetings and educational endeavours of all scales shifted to virtual platforms to continue operating safely.
Businesses and other enterprises quickly realized the untapped potential of online events and how they offered numerous benefits that in-person events couldn’t mark up to.
Virtual events take place on an online event platform, allowing hosts to collect valuable analytics like audience engagement times and average watch time for further improvement. They cut operational costs as there is no need for a physical venue, food or other formalities.
Online events are also more marketable and therefore attract a larger audience. The final cherry on top is their increased eco-friendliness and lower carbon footprint, making them all the more attractive to attendees.
Difficulties of Relying on Virtual-Only Events
However, online events don’t come without a few cons of their own. Team leaders and event directors experienced first-hand how difficult it can be to keep customers, employees and investors engaged without any physical interaction.
Moreover, attendees have complained of the lack of human interactions making events, meetings and conferences hardly as productive. Networking was largely affected by virtual-only events and has been impossible to replicate. Lastly, despite the ability to cater to a larger audience, online events often lack audience engagement and lead to unsuccessful (and quite boring, if we’re honest) events.
Hybrid Events – The Best of Both Worlds with Exceptional Flexibility
Hence came the need for hybrid events that combined the perks of online events with a touch of in-person communication for better engagement. With the pandemic stretching on, the shortcomings of online events are becoming more and more apparent. This has led business executives and event planners to opt for hybrid events to mend the gap for effective communication.
Hybrid events are open to in-person and online attendees, offering people a chance to avail whatever mode of attendance they prefer. For example, companies are now hiring event agencies with a global reach to plan out a physical event that is open to a limited audience. These events are also live-streamed to allow members to attend them online, as per their preferences.
How Hybrid Events Ensure Success
Let’s have a look at the main reasons why hybrid events are the way of the future:
- Better reach and more attendance from people around the world.
- Higher engagement rates with a more productive audience.
- Improved marketing opportunities.
- Lower environmental impact.
- More profitable sponsorship opportunities.
Sarah Hill is a content writer at Seven Events Ltd, a leading event production company offering event planning and venue finding services. She started her career in the events industry almost a decade ago as time progressed she became an avid event blogger sharing her insight on corporate event planning.