It has been over a year since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 as a global epidemic. It has been nearly a year since the vaccination of populations across the planet began to combat the virus that, to this day, continues to infect millions of people and disrupt the return to everyday life.
While the current public health crisis is far from over, many things have improved. Lockdowns have ended in many places as vaccination rates surpass the number of new infections. In the United States, concerts are being held. The restaurants are accepting diners, and the theaters are screening new movies. Many schools and offices have reopened their doors to students and workers. And, all the events that had to be postponed in 2020 are being held across the country.
The Year of Parties
Events are definitely in full swing this year. From weddings to birthdays, the entire population seems to be in celebration mode after spending an entire year locked up at home.
TripleSeat, a software company, tracked reservations for venues. According to their recent report, there has been a 98 percent increase in bookings for event spaces in New York City between June 2020 to June 2021.
Entrepreneurs are taking advantage of the heightened demand. Now is the best time to build event centers to accommodate the number of people who are excited to celebrate their personal milestones with loved ones through parties.
However, not everyone is ready to once again appear in person in an enclosed room full of people. COVID-19 is leaving lasting wounds that make people cautious about face-to-face interactions. Moreover, with the threat of more transmissible variants, there are still those who want to remain at home, for the time being, safe from the still spreading virus.
That is why, despite the lifting of restrictions, hybrid events continue to be hosted.
What Are Hybrid Events?
When countries went into lockdowns, many organizations canceled all scheduled in-person events. All meetings, trade shows, seminars, town halls, and other events that pushed through were conducted online, with attendees watching and communicating from the safety of their own homes.
No in-person event was safe despite social distancing and wearing of face masks. It varies from state to state, but restrictions also limit the number of people who can gather in one place for an event. Therefore, because of the pandemic, virtual events became the norm.
In 2021, as vaccination efforts ramp up, organizations continued to host virtual events. About 64 percent of businesses said that they had increased virtual events. Aside from being safe, virtual events are scalable; more people can attend because there is no physical space capacity to consider. It is also cost-effective because organizations no longer have to pay for catering, sound and light systems, security, and other expenses.
There is also an emerging type of event that mixes the benefits of virtual events and in-person events: hybrid events.
People are not yet ready to fully return to normal as the virus, which has already infected millions around the world, is still around. Moreover, organizations are not yet fully willing to give up the cost savings and scalability that come from virtual events. According to a report, this year, 58 percent of all businesses shared that they are planning to host hybrid events.
How Can You Host a Hybrid Event?
But because it is not yet a standard, organizations can expect to encounter challenges that come from hosting a mix of virtual and in-person events. While only one event is being hosted technically, in-person and virtual events have very different requirements. One challenge that organizations should address is providing attendees with a memorable and personalized experience.
Organizations should develop an engaging presentation to keep attendees present at the venue and home interested. Those who are watching virtually should be seeing the same content as those who are participating in person. Moreover, if there is audience engagement in the venue, those at home should be given a chance to join in. For example, during the Question and Answer portion, attendees in the venue and at home should be given equal opportunity to voice their queries.
Organizations should also be more inclusive in interacting and rewarding attendees. If the attendees at the venue will be given gift bags, the attendees at home should also receive one. It is easy to send and have the gift bags delivered via a courier nowadays. There is no excuse to exclude the rest of the participants because they are not physically present.
Hybrid events will become a common occurrence even after the pandemic. Organizations can reap advantages from hosting a mix of virtual and in-person events. However, there is a learning curve to it. Organizations should figure out how to successfully host a hybrid event.