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To hybrid, or not to hybrid

Due to the covid19 pandemic, hybrid events are strongly on the rise. But what exactly are they and when is the best time to use them as a company? Our business unit manager Marc Zwiers gives advice.

What is a hybrid event?

‘Let’s start with the definition of a hybrid event,’ says Marc. ‘Many people see a hybrid event primarily as an event that combines a live event with an online event. In short, there are people at a certain location and in addition people are watching digitally’. This is the most common form, but according to Marc there is another option. ‘The other day we organized an event for Interfood, where the presenters were in our studio and one presenter at a large distance in South America. In addition, employees from all over the world participated and these people were also shown on screens in the decor. This way, in the absence of “live”, a “collective we” was created as much as possible.’

The future of hybrid

No matter how you define ‘hybrid’, it is certain that we will experience many more hybrid events in the future. ‘The pandemic has of course accelerated them. I advise companies not to completely abandon physical events when they are allowed again. It is simply valuable to be able to look each other in the eye. We also see that the tools for breakout sessions, where you speak individually with a small group or one-on-one, are still in their infancy. You miss those social aspects digitally.’

Interplay between on- and offline

At the same time, the advantages of hybrid are plentiful: the costs are lower, it saves travel time and it is much sustainable. Another, often unexpected, advantage is that the audience digitally raises their hand much faster in an online session than in a room. You get a lot of interaction from the digital environment, which in turn has an effect on the audience in the physical location. This creates a strong interaction between the on- and offline world.

Livestream options

Marc suspects that we are therefore moving towards a ratio of one to four for corporate internal events. ‘A quarter of the events require everyone to be present; the other three are hybrid variants, where the choice is free or dependant on the situation whether you are physically present. At congresses and similar events, there will increasingly be a live stream option, where participants can choose whether to be physically present or watch digitally. Rotterdam Ahoy, with which we recently entered into a partnership, is a good example of a location that is suitable for this purpose.’

Special events

Marc does warn companies that a hybrid event requires a lot of preparation. ‘We unburden companies, but in the end, you actually organize two events. You shouldn’t underestimate it. The possibilities of hybrids lead to special events. The Prinsjesdagontbijt was fantastic, with a live audience at four locations and 700 entrepreneurs watching from a distance. Or the hybrid day of a national entrepeneur who, against all advice, held an event lasting no less than 6 hours and captivated the audience the whole time, both on location and digitally. That’s cool.’