In-person industry events are making a welcome comeback, with 2023 viewed for the return to pre-pandemic levels of participation. The pandemic forced the event industry to pivot – fast – to create 100% virtual events. While not nearly the same as in-person events with the spontaneity of conversations or the opportunity to experience products directly, virtual events proved an excellent way to keep business communities connected and moving forward.

While there’s no substitute for the in-person event experience, hybrid events – the combination of in-person and virtual event formats – are here to stay. They provide added flexibility for event planners and participants alike. In fact, a recent survey of event managers revealed that 71% would continue to explore digital strategies, including hybrid events. This indicates a sea change in the ways events are produced and attended.

With technology playing a greater role in event production, it’s best to verify that your event production partner is well-versed in planning and implementing virtual event elements, especially streaming in all its forms, and can integrate several platforms to produce one, seamless event.

Image courtesy of Show Ready Technologies

Hybrid Events Appeal to Hybrid Workforces

Incorporating virtual components to your event strategy builds in the flexibility to overcome travel limitations resulting from scaled-back flight routes or a sudden spike in COVID infections. It also makes your event more accessible to expanded geographical audiences. Include a post-event on-demand session option to appeal to today’s growing hybrid workforce that values flexibility.

Virtual event components can mirror the actual event itself through synchronous live streaming or asynchronous on-demand access to recorded sessions. Events can also be a combination of both synchronous and asynchronous; this provides the benefits of pre-recording along with the advantages of delivering the message at the same time for both live in-person and virtual attendees. Event organizers also can optimize the user experience for virtual attendees by offering relevant on-demand videos, animations or interactive components.

Synchronous Vs. Asynchronous

Two main considerations in this new hybrid event environment are whether virtual content will be delivered synchronously in real-time, or asynchronously, as a slightly delayed, on-demand live recording of presentations and sessions. Each has its advantages. The key is choosing the right one for your event, audience and budget.

Synchronous virtual event components occur simultaneously with live content and often involve an on-site crew experienced in all the intricacies of live-streaming, including lighting, sound, staging, as well as the technical expertise to work with the live-streaming site or software seamlessly.

The synchronous approach to streaming content has the advantage that all event participants have simultaneous access to event content, which provides a shared experience. It also is more expensive and complex, given the considerable on-site crew needed to make the livestream happen.

Image courtesy of Show Ready Technologies

Timing is Everything

Alternatively, asynchronous virtual event components are not timed to coincide with the live event, but are taped live using a webcam to run on-demand at scheduled intervals typically listed in the event program webpage and app. This option is more economical and gives participants greater flexibility to view event content.

Another approach to creating asynchronous content is to pre-record presentations and upload them with inactive links that go live immediately after the live presentation concludes. This requires additional time for your crew to pre-record presentations, as well as a greater time commitment from your presenters. Pre-recorded content also can be created before the event, so it can be used in both the live and online experience to deliver the message synchronously, creating a more unified experience for attendees.

Even though the asynchronous option is designed primarily for virtual participants, in-person attendees also will benefit as they will no longer have to choose between sessions scheduled at conflicting times. This approach enables event-goers can attend one session in person and access others via on-demand streaming. Also, after the event closes, on-demand content can be repurposed and used strategically to reignite attendee interest.

Know Your Event Tech Stack

Hybrid event production requires a highly robust tech stack. Different technology is required to produce specific parts of an event, such as staging, sound, lighting, interface(s) with video screen(s), streaming, gamification, instant audience surveys and more for on-site events that are livestreamed synchronously. The tech stack must be able to manage input from these disparate systems flawlessly.

For asynchronous components, the digital technology used to record presentations and to stream with interactive elements needs to be equally sophisticated to make the experience engaging and memorable.

Image courtesy of Show Ready Technologies

The Ever-Adaptable Event App

Feature-rich, event-specific apps are a vital tool for event producers and participants. In addition to maps of the show floor and schedules, apps can be used for audience participation and surveys, or gamification content, and more. It’s mission-critical for the tech stack to support the app’s functionality, and that the app is built by a tech company with app expertise. To offset the costs of building the app, event organizers may choose to sell advertising from organizations relevant to participants.

Taking Your Show on the Road

Event roadshows are on the move again, emerging as a way to bring information and product demos directly to your customers, prospects and potential partners.

Roadshows are loosely defined as any event that can be set up and packed away quickly to move to the next stop on a strategically planned tour route. Some examples include:

  • Manufacturer’s visitor days – a select group of customers and prospects are invited to meet with engineering and product planning staff
  • Tech Tours – a manufacturer brings new products/equipment powered by technology to showcase to current customers, prospects and potential partners
  • Speaking events with regional experts – a wide range of companies, especially serving the knowledge economy

Roadshow benefits include:

  • Bridging the gap between geographic areas and time zones that may not be accessible to would-be event goers due to corporate travel restrictions and/or intermittent reduced flight availability
  • A way to rise above the trade-show fray to address your audience directly and eliminate competition for their attention
  • Regional locations and smaller, more personalized events usually are well-attended because travel budgets are not required to ensure participation
  • Companies staging roadshows can set the price of admission from free to just enough to cover expenses

Some companies use a smaller portion of their traditional trade show booth to take on the road. Others may create a specific roadshow event-in-a-box, with a portable booth structure they can pack up in a wheeled case amplified by pull-up banners to visually convey stand-out content.

Roadshows are smaller events that do not require much real estate to stage. However, they require tailored lighting for the stage and presenters, as well as product displays, and the tech stack must be sufficiently robust to flawlessly operate presentation screen(s), digital displays, lighting, AV and all associated technology needs.

The Quell Group: Your Expert Partner in Event Design, Production and Support

The Quell Group partners with you to bring your event vision to life. We collaborate with you to determine the ideal mix of visual design and content elements for booth design combined with new technologies for hybrid/in-person event configurations, AV, staging, live-streaming, gamification, interactivity and more. The result is an event produced to provide an engaging and memorable experience that motivates the stated strategic outcomes and delivers the WOW! factor.

Contact us for your event and trade show needs – from design, content and production – or to discuss incorporating new technologies or creating hybrid events. From concept to reality, Quell helps deliver event excellence.