There are many benefits of remote working, just as there are numerous advantages to being office-based too. The hybrid approach to work and to how organisations communicate with employees, customers and shareholders is the perfect way to combine these two methods and find the most effective way forwards for your business.
McKinsey found that nine out of ten organisations around the world will combine office and remote working in the future. The same goes for all types of events. In the future, we will most likely see an influx of hybrid events. They combine the benefits of online events and in-person interaction to create what will most likely be the route forwards. Hybrid remote work, hybrid meetings and hybrid conferences are just a few examples of hybrid events.
In this article, we will look at the benefits of hybrid events, why they are such an attractive option and how you can organise them.
What are hybrid events?
Hybrid events are meetings, conferences and other occurrences that take place both online and in-person at a physical location. They can be used for internal communications as well as externally, depending on the type of event you are holding. Here are some examples of the types of hybrid events you can host:
|Internal Communication||A company town hall meeting with staff attending online and in-person to update them on the most recent developments as well as to ensure everyone is aligned with the overall mission and goals of the business.|
|Training and development sessions for employees, to implement continuing professional development (CPD).|
|External Communication||Capital Markets Days to talk to shareholders and update them on strategy and other elements of the business, as utilised by bpost in Belgium.|
|Financial results meetings that keep investors informed about the performance of the business.|
|AGMs can take place in a hybrid format, depending on your national laws and the companies Articles of Association. French transport group Alstom ran its 2021 AGM online and in-person.|
|Hosting hybrid marketing webinars to generate leads, nurture leads or merely to display thought leadership can be hugely effective.|
|Local government meetings can engage more citizens in a hybrid format as well as to allow journalists to attend and interact.|
Why hybrid events are the future
Online events saw many businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic, including those who had never considered holding meetings virtually before. They became an essential method of communicating effectively with internal and external stakeholders, and leaders will take those lessons forward. This newfound comfort with the digital environment has laid the groundwork for a hybrid future where we no longer carry out these events online because we have to, but rather because people can choose the way that they attend them based on preference, location, and what provides them with the best grounding to be productive.
Advantages of hybrid events
There are many benefits of hybrid events. Here are the most important ones:
1. Increased reach
By offering the choice to attend a meeting either in-person or virtually, you expand your audience. It is unlikely that all of your desired attendees would be based within a short radius of the physical location for the meeting, which is one of the obstacles to a purely in-person event. Travel time eats into people’s schedules and it is not always practical to clear an entire day to attend a meeting. Additionally, some people may not be able to travel or attend due to a health condition.
Industry-leading stationery, lighter and shaver company BIC used to utilise physical meetings only in their stakeholder communications but recently chose to webcast their shareholder communication efforts, too. This resulted in reaching an impressive 90% of their shareholders who, being based across North America and Europe, would not all have been able to attend in person.
The ability to provide on-demand viewing after the event for people who couldn’t attend at the time was another way to increase the reach of an event.
2. Higher engagement
Using a digital hybrid event platform like Company Webcast, you can involve more audience members. Virtual viewers can submit questions at a hybrid meeting in the same way as they would if they were there in person. They can also participate in live chat, vote in polls and fill in surveys during the event.
For example, business mobility solutions firm Alphabet uses webinars and meetings with customers to engage them during the awareness and consideration phases of the customer journey.
3. More flexibility
Holding events in both the physical and the virtual realm not only provides greater flexibility for attendees but also makes the business futureproof.
The Coronavirus caught a lot of businesses by surprise as they had to make a rushed shift to online working that took time to implement and get used to. If there were to be another lockdown in your country or a similar public health incident, you would already have the capabilities to smoothly transition to fully virtual events, returning to a hybrid model when restrictions ease.
People’s perceptions of the risks from the virus are all different, too. So, a hybrid model means that they can attend all meetings and events, whether they feel confident being around others or not. Similarly, overseas stakeholders can take part even if there are travel restrictions in place in either country.
4. Cost savings
With fewer physical attendees for a hybrid event compared with a purely in-person event, the cost implications are reduced, making it more cost-effective. You cut down on travel costs and accommodation prices. You can hire a smaller, less expensive venue, reduce your outlay on refreshments and still target audience members from around the world.
Digital transformation firm Econocom wanted to communicate with stakeholders around the world at the same time, providing the same information and doing so transparently. One solution would be to send executives to each country to host in-person events. However, the much more cost-effective method was to inform all interested parties with the same hybrid event.
5. More sustainable
Not sending directors out on the road for shareholder events shows your commitment to sustainability as a business. At a time when investors are putting pressure on organisations to understand their environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) responsibilities, this is an important step towards cutting the carbon footprint of the business.
Fewer people attending a meeting means using fewer of the world’s natural resources and creating fewer carbon emissions. All of this amounts to decreasing your environmental impact.
How to choose hybrid event technology
The technology you choose to deliver your hybrid events should contain all the features you need to offer the best possible experience for your speakers and attendees in both the physical and virtual audience.
1. Understand the two attendee types
You can invite attendees to come to the physical location or they can join the stream from their device for the virtual component, wherever they are. Our experience shows that it’s crucial to ensure that both types of attendees are served in a way that allows them to experience the event to the fullest.
The event should run smoothly and seamlessly however you choose to attend, with both virtual and physical attendees enjoying the same benefits and opportunities.
2. Different speaking environments
Enable speakers to present at the location or join virtually, too. This allows you to pick from the best experts in the world, without having to fly them in and accommodate them.
3. Interactive experiences
This is an important element to keep both audiences engaged. It depends on the platform you’re using. For example, Company Webcast features a number of interactive capabilities to encourage participation and keep the event dynamic and compelling. You can receive instant feedback, create quizzes and ask questions in polls. Audience members can ask questions of the panel, making your hybrid event an engaging experience with plenty of interaction.
4. Great live streaming and on-site experiences
One key requirement of running hybrid events is that neither the live streaming nor the in-person audiences should feel disadvantaged, compared to the other group. Both should enjoy their experience of the event and be able to contribute to the same degree.
The technology you use should reflect these needs and make sure that both types of audience have access to the same resources to get the most out of the event. There should be no bias towards either approach when developing your plan for the event.
5. Ability to draw insights
It is vital that you evaluate your events to help you measure success and finesse your plans for next time. With the analytics and insights from the Company Webcast platform, you can plan your follow-up and expand your network if you wish.
Successful hybrid event examples
Company Webcast has been running hybrid events for more than ten years, so is perfectly placed to work with businesses looking to utilise this method going forward.
In September 2021, we broadcasted the Deloitte Best Managed Companies Award Ceremony from the Palazzo Mezzanotte in Milan.
In addition to the guests who attended in person at the Italian stock exchange, there were 115,000 online views, of which 28,000 were live views. This is the perfect example of extending the reach of a physical event by making it hybrid.
For more real world uses of Company Webcast’s solutions, see the References section of this website.
Frequently asked questions about hybrid events
What is the difference between a hybrid event and a virtual event?
A virtual event takes place solely online, whereas a hybrid event contains both in-person and virtual elements. You get both in-person attendees and virtual attendees.
What is the value of hosting a hybrid event?
Hybrid events extend the potential reach of your events to include speakers and attendees who are based away from your location. It increases participation in the live event, as there are fewer barriers to attendance. This type of event offers flexibility as well as a more sustainable, cost-effective approach for your business.
Can hybrid events be used for investor relations?
Many big companies use hybrid events, including those powered by Company Webcast to engage shareholders. From financial results events to roadshows and Capital Markets Days, they are ideal for investor relations.
We live in a world that is brought closer by digital technology, and it makes sense to transfer that into the ways we communicate with internal and external stakeholders. From keeping employees up to date on the company’s mission to engaging with investors around the world simultaneously, there are some compelling advantages to hybrid events. If you are ready to pick your hybrid and virtual event platform, try Company Webcast for your business today.
References and Further Reading
- Company Webcast security features
- What is hybrid working?
- Forbes on the hybrid workplace
- The workplace has moved on
- How to level up your internal communications