Why Hybrid Events Will Be Huge in 2022


With Omicron and IHU threatening the fate of physical events once again, there are countless questions about what the future holds. One thing is a safe bet, though. In the upcoming year, hybrid events will be huge.

If you’re planning a major event (e.g. conference, trade show, job fair, etc.), the concept of hybrid events is worth knowing about. Think of them as a mashup between physical gatherings and virtual events.

As the world is getting more comfortable with the virus, there are a lot more ways to host events now. You can host limited attendees at your venue while offering at-home streams for those who can’t make it. Just remember – masking is still important in 2022!

person watching stream of live conference

It also seems like COVID-19 will become endemic in the future and we just have to learn to live with it. It will be touch-and-go for the next couple of years or longer. Everyone will be constantly assessing their personal comfort levels for any given situation.

For instance, according to one survey from May 2020, 66 percent of marketers say they won’t attend an in-person conference until there’s a proven vaccine in place.

Hybrid events offer a win-win situation for event planners and attendees during these precarious times. They’re poised as the go-to strategy for future gatherings. 2022 will continue to showcase their potential. 62 percent of event planners say they will continue to accommodate a virtual audience once live events return, according to a survey by Event Manager Blog. Asynchronous hybrid events will also be huge in 2022.

The current state of hybrid events

Since the Omicron outbreak across the globe, the future of events has yet again shifted. The US, Canada, and Europe are already tightening travel restrictions. For this reason, hybrid events are still gaining momentum. 

With that said, large gatherings are back in style in some places. Hybrid events are already picking up steam as the happy medium. Organizations are eager to bring people together again, and millions of people are eager to be there.

But to ensure the rest aren’t left out, and events are kept at safe capacities with increased safety measures, hybrid events are a sensible choice. 

the crdn virtual event

Examples of hybrid events

It feels like several lifetimes since the pandemic started. In that time, the events realm has already gone from complete gridlock, to virtual, and now to a mixture of virtual and hybrid.

Hybrid is not only the future — it’s already here and in style! A quick search of hybrid events reveals the variety of gatherings that have already happened this year and the many more being planned.

an hybrid event in action

The hotel industry, for starters, is a significant adopter of the hybrid approach. Not only are certain hotel companies organizing hybrid events, but also hybrid meetings. These allow guests to take part in team sessions from their rooms or smaller spaces around the hotel, while other members can join in the actual conference rooms.

Some other recent examples of hybrid events:

  • Apple events went hybrid in 2021. Tim Cook would address the in-person audience while also streaming the event for a very eager global audience.
  • In September 2021, FinCon21 took place in Austin while making it accessible to a virtual audience. Personal finance content creators came together to share insights, connect with sponsors, and learn how to progress in their careers.
  • The Hawai’i International Film Festival (HIFF) hosted its 40th-anniversary event with its first-ever hybrid approach. More than 200 films will be presented to viewers both in person and at home.
  • The World Dog Surfing Championships (you read that right!) delivered an innovative hybrid event for viewers and competitors around the world. Not only could attendees stream the event or attend in person, but competitors — dogs and humans alike — could also livestream their participation from multiple locations.
  • The Korea MICE Expo (KME) hosted the “largest trade show for meeting professionals and incentive planners,” in the hybrid format.

There’s room for all types of organizations in the burgeoning hybrid event space, and it’s truly just getting started. Conferences, trade shows, job fairs, entertainment expos — you name it — will soon be spun into innovative events that combine the physical and the virtual.

Benefits of choosing hybrid events

A silver lining of this global pandemic, unquestionably, is the creativity that’s come out of it. Virtual events, and now hybrid events, are a prime example of this; organizers and exhibitors are turning lemons into lemonade at every corner, delivering memorable experiences and bringing people together for a shared purpose and mutual outcomes.

This fully modernized approach allows event planners to curate unique offerings for all types of audiences, both live at the venue and scattered around the globe. Organizers can offer perks for those joining remotely (e.g. contests, bonus content) while maintaining the feel of a live event — and perhaps improving it due to lower capacity. (e.g. Shorter bathroom lines!)

a virtual event in action

Although reducing in-person attendance, hybrid events open the door for thousands more to take part from home. Along with the potential for larger overall attendance, this virtual accessibility allows for further reach to people in different regions. While you host a physical gathering in, say, the UK, you can stream and encourage interaction with visitors from Canada, Australia, Asia — you name it.

A scaled-down physical attendance can also translate to a more eco-friendly event, with lower carbon emissions and waste being produced. This is a fact you can promote to your target audience and customers, which may help drive interest and brand engagement.

Summary

The events industry changed in 2020 as much, if not more than, any other space. Almost overnight, thousands of costly, anticipated events were forced to be canceled or rethought. Just like with remote work, though, the crisis may be a catalyst for overdue positive changes in how we approach events.

A hybrid event style may be a long-term solution that unites event purists and forward-thinkers alike. Either way, the coming months will be a real test, as organizers and attendees across the world experience hybrid events for themselves.

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Why Hybrid Events Will Be Huge in 2022

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