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WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER A HYBRID EVENT IN 2021

by Ed Zilinskas, E.V.P. of Business Development at Lab Exhibits & Services

“Your success in life is not based on your ability to simply change. It is based on your ability to change faster than your competition, customers, and business.” ― Mark Sanborn

We are officially one year into the pandemic, and as an industry, we have had to collectively re-think, strategize, and pivot our in-person trade shows. We have also adapted to new technologies and experimented with new ways of doing business.  

As we ease into 2021, some live events are slowly starting to come back, yet others are already getting pushed back to 2022. One thing is clear. 

FLEXIBILITY WILL CONTINUE TO BE A MUST IN 2021.

The need to have a concrete contingency plan in place to safeguard your business is essential. That is why I believe Hybrid events will be critical this year.

WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER A HYBRID EVENT

OVID-19 will continue to be the primary cause for event disruption throughout the year. Below are the many factors that are still impacting the Events Industry:

International Travel Restrictions: Beginning 1/26/21, the United States will begin requiring a COVID test to enter the country.

Travel Limitations: Companies are still limiting or altogether banning employee travel. Many major companies also prohibit visitation by clients and vendors.

Vaccine Roll Out: Slow Vaccine Roll Out in most States.

Travel Budgets: Many companies have decreased travel budgets due to overall reduced budgets.

State Restrictions: Continued Show Cancellations / Postponements due to gathering restrictions or positivity rates by state.

Social Anxiety: Confidence and Trust will be slow to develop for in-person shows by exhibitors and attendees.

Generational Gaps: The younger generation seems to prefer digital content. According to Ypulse.com, a leader in youth research and insights, about 30% of 13-39-year-olds are regularly live-streaming content during their free time.

Planning a Hybrid Event will allow you the needed flexibility to react to event cancelations while simultaneously elevating your brand and heightening your industry leadership.

WHAT IS A HYBRID EVENT

A Hybrid event is an integrated in-person and virtual environment that engages both audiences at the same time. The virtual portion should act as an extension of your in-person event and interact with online attendees on the same level as in-person guests. 

In the Trade Show Industry, the virtual environment would be a fully immersive exhibit that an attendee can visit and explore online.

BENEFITS OF A HYBRID EVENT

Audience: Visitors that cannot travel will still have the opportunity to engage with your business. You can also reach a new consumer that may never have been planning to attend in-person.

Changing Demographics: As I mentioned earlier, many young professionals prefer to consume online content. The pandemic has undoubtedly changed how we use technology to connect with others, so sharpening your Hybrid event skills now may be valuable in the long run.

Engagement: Whether the show attendee visits in person or online, the goal is to create engaging, informative, and memorable content. However, the virtual component does allow for increased engagement opportunities through polls, surveys, real-time feedback, gamification, and online networking both during and post-event.

Customer Experience: The unique ability within a Virtual Environment is to have real-time interactions and guidance. This type of engagement is more meaningful to your audience than clicking through a website or interacting with a chatbot. As with any event, the show staff in the online environment should be well trained and updated on all show offerings.

Brand Elevation: The interactive experience of attending a virtual environment is an innovative way to activate your brand and influence buying decisions. The capabilities are nearly endless as the environment can be re-purposed as a showroom, training seminar, networking event, or a stand-alone trade show. 

Industry Leader:  Virtual environments are an opportunity to set your brand apart from the competition and potentially gain market share. An attendee who can no longer experience the in-person show will still have a wholly interactive and informative experience. It is also an opportunity for someone new to experience your brand and form new relationships.  

ARE HYBRID EVENTS HERE TO STAY

It is hard to tell what the virtual demand will be post-pandemic. Online events, remote schooling, telehealth appoints have all become our collective norm. Soon many of those things will go back to ordinary in-person experiences. However, many businesses have discovered the benefits of employees working from home. I believe we will see many things virtual become our new normal.

THE HYBRID EVENT MODEL WILL BE A VIABLE WAY FOR BUSINESSES TO MOVE FORWARD THIS YEAR AND BEYOND.

At Lab Exhibits & Services, we are currently developing virtual environments that will serve as extensions of live events. Please allow us the opportunity to share our ideas with you and help you create opportunities for the coming year.

Please email me at ezilinskas@labexhibits.com for additional information or for free copies of my RFI, RFP, Design Questionnaire, and General Proposal templates. “Boothmanship” training is provided at “No Charge” upon request.

Ed Zilinskas, E.V.P. of Business Development at Lab Exhibits & Services

As a 30 year veteran of the trade show and custom exhibit industry, Ed has grown his display creation skills from the ground up. He has taken his experience as a show floor supervisor and coupled it with his executive-level design and marketing vision for his customers. He has excelled at helping his clients develop unique and functional displays that promote their brand, communicate their message, and create a positive and memorable experience for their target audience.