As we move into 2021, the hybrid event is the go-to format for engaging customers. But there are still a lot of misconceptions flying around about hybrid events and virtual events. We’ve busted 20 of those myths wide open to guide any savvy event manager through the maze of virtual event planning.
Myth #1: Hybrid Events and Virtual Events are the Same
Hybrid events have a virtual aspect that can often be significant. But they also have an in-person factor, which might be a live-streamed event, a showcase or product demonstration with some people attending, or interacting face-to-face.
It's okay to hate the word hybrid, but the most important thing to remember is that there is an audience in person and an audience joining you virtually.
Myth #2: Hybrid Events Have Lower Attendance
In fact, 65 percent of event managers in 2020 said the attendance was the same while 23 percent actually saw attendance increase for virtual-only.
Given that people are ready to get back to travel and face to face, we believe that these numbers have nowhere to go but up.
Myth #3: Businesses Don’t Want to Invest in Hybrid Events
93 percent of businesses are ready to invest in hybrid or virtual events.
Myth #4: HYBRID Events Take Too Long to Plan, are expensive, and complex
With fewer in-person attendees, there are usually fewer overheads and more focus on finding the right virtual platform and technologies. This makes planning pretty simple in comparison to some live events.
Think of it this way...you're really designing an integrated event with options online and in person. Like you would plan for multiple venues for a city-wide event, the hybrid experience is a multi-venue experience...one of those venues just happens to exist in the cloud.
Myth #5: There are Already Too Many Virtual Events
87 percent of in-person events were canceled in 2020, so never worry that your event is unnecessary. Consumers are thirsty for engaging online content.
Education, training, incentives, conferences, board meetings...these meetings haven't stopped and those that were postponed are needing to get back to business. However, globally, many people are experiencing varying waves of lockdowns, mask mandates, travel bans, and more. Virtual isn't going anywhere because though we'd like to believe everyone can travel right now, it's creeping back slowly.
Myth #6: Event Managers Prefer In-Person Events
Not true. 97 percent of event managers believe that 2021 is going to be the year of the hybrid event.
And yes, we know...this doesn't mean you prefer in-person and from the LinkedIn posts, we keep seeing, you love and miss them desperately. However, you also likely just love events, in whatever way you can plan and execute them.
Myth #7: Virtual Events are Only Relevant During the Pandemic
Virtual and hybrid meetings and conferences have opened up a world of inclusivity and accessibility. You can work with people all over the world, however, they or you need to work. That will always be relevant.
Those livestreams that we ran for years prior to the pandemic are virtual. We just didn't have the reliance on it that we were forced into in 2020. The same thing will exist post-pandemic with better awareness and understanding of the value of those livestreams.
Myth #8: The Csuite Don’t Like Virtual Events
Over half of all CEOs believe that in the future, all their events will have at least one virtual component. This means now is a great time to start exploring the world of virtual and hybrid events.
In fact, we've heard more than one CEO or CMO say to us they can't imagine their events strategy moving forward without virtual.
Myth #9: Blending Virtual and Face-to-Face Audiences Never Works
The numerous successful hybrid events of 2020 and early 2021 say otherwise. It’s all about finding engaging ways to entertain your guests, whether they’re virtual or not.
Myth #10: Engaging Attendees is Harder Digitally
Remember, your participants want to be there. Give them what they came for by making it fun and captivating. Keep your virtual audience in mind and be sure that they never feel left out by giving opportunities to interact as you would for them in person. Keep your in-person attendees feeling safe and motivated (no boring keynotes please. Let that be a pandemic casualty).
Good event design rules supreme, no matter the venue.
Myth #11: You Can’t Monetize a Hybrid Event
There are plenty of ways to bring money in from a hybrid event. Creative marketers can offer space for advertising and charge for attendance where appropriate, like a pay-to-get more option. Plus, inserting a “donate now” button or similar technologies for nonprofits combined with a rousing speech can help bring in more funds.
This does mean you'll need to stop giving away the free user conference to hold value likely. But experiment. That got us through 2020. The pricing model will need to fit and be flexible for the next 18 months or so as we figure out the new formulas.
Myth #12: You Don’t Get New Faces at Hybrid Events
As hybrid events have a huge digital element, you can invite people from all over the world. Make the right accommodations, and anyone with disabilities who might struggle to get to an in-person event should be able to come to your hybrid event, making you suddenly more accessible and inclusive.
Myth #13: People Will Only Come virtually
There will always be people who prefer face-to-face contact. If your event is safe and well thought out, those people will attend in-person.
Myth #14: People Will Only Come in-Person
Conversely, some people think that if they plan an in-person aspect of the meeting or conference, then no one will attend virtually. As we saw in 2020, that’s clearly not the case. A huge 75 percent of event managers planned and executed hybrid events to great success.
Myth #15: People who Attend Virtual Events Will Never Come to Future In-Person Events
Once you go virtual, you never go back, right? Wrong. Virtual attendees who you excite with your product or service are more likely to attend face-to-face meetings in the future.
Myth #16: Virtual Attendees Just Switch Off
Your attendees will be less likely to switch off if you continually make sure they feel included. Keep them engaged with polls, Q and A, chat functions—get creative!
Myth #17: Speakers Don’t Want to do Virtual Events
They do! It’s all most of them can do at the moment, so take advantage of their desire to work. Event managers should always be eager to refresh their address book when the opportunity arises.
Myth #18: You Don’t Need to Acknowledge a virtual Audience
Treat your virtual attendees just like regular attendees—just don’t try to bring them a coffee.
Myth #19: Networking is Too Hard Online
The internet was built for networking. Get a digital business card, or just use the chat functions of your virtual platform to make those all-important connections.
Myth #20: It Takes Too Many Staff Members to Run a Hybrid Event
Recording or live-streaming an event professionally along with organizing an appropriate virtual platform with the right accessibility options might feel a bit overwhelming to plan alone. If you’re in need of a team to help you stay on track, Nifty Method is here to assist as an event production company. We partner with many enterprises and nonprofits to maximize your resources and budget and create a hybrid event that your attendees will talk about all year long. Get in touch to find out how.