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Is hybrid the new normal?

New normal, a phrase that has been bandied about a lot, and nowhere more so than in the events industry. In September, the new normal was going to be the return of live events and the demise of virtual and hybrid. This was based on the opinion that everyone would be clamouring to get back to the buzz and atmosphere created by human beings being in the same venue, a feeling that is impossible to get from digital events.

Well that seems not to be the case, proof in point is that fact that at Showcase there has been no drop off in the number of hybrid enquiries. Dave Harding-Lyle comments: “In October alone hybrid events have made up 40% of all new business conversations, in comparison with 30% for live and 30% for virtual, testament that this type of digital event is going nowhere.”

So what’s behind this continued interest?

A change in perception. People have got used to not needing to be in a venue, they are happy to watch and interact on a computer screen, they no longer feel that they or the event are second best. They understand the benefits to themselves, such as not having to travel, health and safety aside, they appreciate the time saved.

Conversely, the invited audience feel special that they have been handpicked to attend in-person. The organisers also benefit by reducing overheads by limiting the number of delegates they have to invite, with no detriment to the total audience, as the number of virtual visitors is limitless. Another benefit to the organiser is that they can attract a wider range of speakers, as now they can participate from wherever in the world they might be. Gone is the need to jump on a plane to speak at an event.

This lack of travel also has a knock-on environmental effect, which of course is incredibly important, with the events industry striving more and more to reducing its carbon footprint.

The realisation that if created properly hybrid events can be as engaging as live.

Dave Harding-Lyle says: “The secret to getting a hybrid event to work properly is to make sure that both audiences feel part of the event. This means that the live element and the digital element has to work for both parties. For example, we always make sure that we have a series of cameras on the live audience as well as the speakers so the virtual audience feel that they too are in the room, i.e. where the action is.”

Treating the digital element as if it were live.

Showcase has a long history of creating interesting live events, with the wide skill set that comes with this, and they apply the same approach when it comes to virtual events. When clients choose Showcase for their hybrid event, they have two options when it comes to live streaming. They can either have it streamed to their own Vimeo account or choose to use Showcase’s own platform Event@. Showcase has designed this platform in response to their clients’ needs. They told Showcase the wanted a platform with completely flexibility, so it can be tailored to their event, ideally an on-line platform that best mimics a traditional event. Other important elements included: pre-launch marketing, registration, exhibition, live stage, exhibitors and visitor tracking & analytics, polling, live Q&A, chats and sponsorship.

So while Showcase cannot speak for the entire events industry they can confirm that hybrid is definitely part of their new normal, a new normal that gives their clients a wide variety of options on how best they can create any form of event.