Could a hybrid model be the next step for the events industry?
The last few months have affected every business sector and have hit the events industry particularly hard. Although here in Guernsey we have seen some confidence starting to return for live events, I believe challenges for the industry will continue for the foreseeable future with budgets being cut or reallocated, travel restrictions likely to be in place for some time and the possibility that events could be cancelled if there is a second wave of the virus.
Fortune favours the brave
The industry has had to think on its feet and adapt incredibly quickly. Large numbers of events were cancelled, but fortune favours the brave and those who took their events virtual have reaped the rewards. Webinars, online event series and summits are not new, but until now, these formats have taken second place to a live ‘in-person’ event.
Ongoing travel restrictions
So what’s next? Here in Guernsey we wonderfully have the choice: our on-island bubble allows live events of all sizes to be staged but travel restrictions mean we can’t bring speakers or colleagues from other offices here, which limits the experience and expertise you can provide at an event.
The technology to beam speakers and panellists into a meeting, webinar or event from across the world has been tried and tested by pretty much everyone over the last few months. Yes, there can be the odd technical hitch but, from our experience, audiences have more than likely experienced this themselves so are accommodating, and when well managed it does not need to detract from the experience.
One element which is challenging to recreate in an online event is the networking experience, which for many people is one of the more important reasons to attend an event.
Best of both worlds with hybrid events
A ‘hybrid event’ might be the answer, combining a live audience to allow networking, along with speakers either in person or broadcast via webinar technology. You can still benefit from a live Q&A and audience interaction, whilst accessing speakers from all over the world.
The icing on the cake would be to also broadcast your event live and record it to give you plenty of content which you can edit, rebroadcast, make on-demand or use on your website and social channels. This allows you to reach a much wider audience and get more ‘bang for your buck’.
In early June we worked with Guernsey Finance to take their Sustainable Finance Week online, with a series of live webinars and podcasts with speakers from Hong Kong, Switzerland and the UK, and an audience from 27 countries. That would be almost impossible to achieve at a live event in Guernsey.
The technology to stage a hybrid event does come at a cost but the pay-off is considerable, offering the experience of the live event for your attending delegates, the ability to include the speakers you want and the reach of a virtual event.
If you would like to learn more about hybrid events, live streaming or webinars, please email Natalie Davidson.