February 14, 2022 Cheri Hulse
We’re through marketing planning and living the dream of a new year. But a theme we spent a lot of time considering in 2021 is now back in 2022: hybrid events.
In Q2 and early Q3 2021, I spent the majority of my conversations with marketers thinking about how to incorporate a return to physical with virtual elements. There was, understandably, a lot of interest, but marketers pulled those conversions back as new concerns developed around travel and safety.
Now, here at the outset of 2022, hybrid events are back in style. But marketers are having a different mindset when it comes to those considering a hybrid strategy.
Where Hybrid Events Were in 2021
Hybrid presented itself as a good midway point for marketers as they try to navigate global and regional regulations, audience preferences and contractual obligations with venues.
A hybrid event format allows marketers to cover their bases for delivering an event — no matter what is thrown at them leading up to the big day. Content and experiences can be delivered to audiences, regardless of whether they attend in person or online.
Where Events Are Heading In 2022
Hybrid events reached hype status in 2021, but I expect to see a mix of event types in the future of B2B marketing.
It’ll be on marketing leaders to calibrate the right mix of events between hybrid, physical and digital event types. These decisions will need to be based on audience needs and preferences as well as budget and marketing priorities.
This is the approach that Gartner is centering their research on as well, an approach they refer to as a hybrid strategy.
How Marketers Should Approach Hybrid Events
My one tip for marketers planning hybrid events is to remain flexible and listen to feedback. When ON24 planned a hybrid event last year we had to make last-minute changes to venue capacity based on local regulations.
We also offered attendees many options to select how they wanted to consume the experience: in-person or virtually. This was critical as we saw attendees change their minds as the date neared and their situations changed.
Ultimately, the success of the event was based on audiences consuming content and engaging with the experience and we left it up to them to decide how they would do that.
I’ve published other posts on hybrid event strategy and considerations and will be doing some upcoming research on this topic as well, so I look forward to sharing those insights with you in the near term.