July 10, 2015
A hybrid event is a tradeshow, conference, workshop or other meeting that combines a “live” in-person event with a “virtual” online component. In the past, we were afraid that hybrid meetings would decrease attendance, but we’ve seen that technology can increase engagement, and in most cases, hybrid events are a necessity for globalization. If you’re not on board, you are already behind. Tools like Skype, GoToMeetings, FaceTime, and others are thankfully all doing the opposite of what we feared they would do.
In the September issue of The Meeting Professional, Tara Swords writes in “7 Tips for Better Association Meetings” that “the hybrid event–an in-person meeting with a virtual component for people who can’t attend–is actually helping meeting planners increase engagement and boost numbers for future events.”
In that article, Fred Shea, senior VP of Convention Sales and Services for Visit Orlando said he’s seeing that when associations offer virtual or hybrid components, the online participants are more likely to attend in-person the next year.
As noted in the 2014 Summer Edition of MPI’s Meetings Outlook survey, virtual meeting and event attendance is projected to grow by 3.9 percent over the next year–almost twice the rate predicted for live attendance.
That data, combined with Shea’s observation, suggests that the anticipated growth in virtual attendance could lead to greater live attendee numbers.
Here are a few key factors when producing a hybrid meeting:
I have been attending hybrid meeting for years and I can say that we have come a long way. We have learned a lot as meeting planners. We have experimented and have taken the leap. Don’t be afraid to try something new but make sure you bring in a trusted partner. Once you realize, like with most things in life, you can’t do it alone, your success rate will increase exponentially.