Hybrid or Virtual ? What is the future of event industry

With the Coronavirus scare spreading across the globe, the future of the event industry relies on the Hybrid event model gaining more acceptance.

Human evolution is a journey of constant adaptation. Just in the last millennium, we have survived wars, famines, and pandemics, only to come out stronger. Once again, we are on the brink of a major challenge today, with  CoronaVirus spreading across all continents, besides Antarctica. While the pains being caused by this ‘epidemic’ is beyond measure, our survival instincts needs us to quickly adapt, assess risk and find solutions.


 The Question of ROI for Sponsors & Exhibitors with Virtual event and online community

When a contagious health catastrophe emerges, the first human response is fear. Fear leads us to stop going to places with a high chance of contraction. Such a behavioural pattern is a death knell for the travel & tourism industry and any business that requires large gatherings. One industry that requires both of these is ‘Events’. People travel long distances in planes and trains that are, now seen as incubators for spreading the virus and then are locked amidst large gatherings, with minimal awareness of where other people have been. As an immediate step, organisers and authorities alike are halting such large gatherings. However, it’s impacting businesses across the globe. To the same end, one may wonder if the advancements made in technology and digital infrastructure could offer a plausible way out.

Without delving deeper into the importance of in-person events and why it is the most effective marketing tool, it is critical to focus on how organisers are leveraging technology to come out of this situation stronger. Challenging times forces one to innovate and the event industry is setting an example by facing this adversity head-on. 

“When things do not go your way, remember that every challenge — every adversity — contains within it the seeds of opportunity and growth.”

― Roy T. Bennett

Across countries, today, enabling in-person meetings appears daunting due to the health & financial risk involved for both the organiser and the participants. The fear psychosis created by the virus might take a while to die down. However, the positive news is that while the user searching for events online is down, but it’s not completely halted. Some of the globally leading business events platforms are seeing significant traffic of users looking for professional experiences.) There is a clear indication that users are looking for options and now, it’s up to the organisers to step up and create these opportunities for this audience. 

At this critical juncture where the event ecosystem is exposed to billions in loss, one critical question confronting us is: “can technology help mitigate the losses?” The answer is a resounding YES and is quickly getting implemented across the globe. Physical events have no option but to become agile and marry the often hated virtual possibilities. Here are some of the approaches that organisers are adopting:

Going completely Virtual:- 

By leveraging the Live-streaming and broadcasting solutions customized for events, organisers are taking a physical event to a virtual venue, hosted on the cloud. The solution is ideal for events expecting to host an audience from around the world. 

Enabling Hybrid Event: – 

Events are all about advance planning. We all know that the effect of the virus will die down sooner or later. At this point, organisers can explore the idea of going Hybrid, a mix of online & offline. 

A majority of potential participants are not able to attend the event due to reasons like Coronavirus, amongst others. By enabling a hybrid model during conferences and expos, organisers can open a new channel to drive participation. For instance, during a live conference, besides delegates who are present onsite, organisers can allow virtual participation, along with online-offline networking features. Such a solution is ideal for events aimed at both, local and international audiences. 

Organisers may also choose to extend their physical event, by adding a virtual component before or after the physical in-person event. Virtualisation before the in-person event usually works like a trailer and successfully, drives more audience to the main event. After the in-person event is over, virtualisation would extend the timeline of the event, driving additional revenues. 

For example, by enabling an extended day after the physical tradeshow, exhibitors would get more exposure to an audience they could not meet in person. Additionally, anyone who could not make it to the show can still meet the exhibitors. 

While some organisers have proactively taken these steps, others are just waking up to the possibilities. Adopting the hybrid model can be a lifeline for the next few months and a critical source of revenue in the future. All events which are being cancelled should consider going virtual. It would be the right thing to do, giving the audience an opportunity to still achieve the end goal: meet prospective buyers & sellers during the conferences and stay updated.The writing on the wall is clear; 

“The future of the event industry relies on an organiser’s ability to adopt the technology.” It’s the only way to come out stronger!

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