Pivot Power: The value of being able to switch from in-person to virtual and hybrid
In-person events are finally starting to re-gain popularity, after all but dying out during the pandemic. However, with variants determined to linger and general uncertainty about future lockdowns, virtual events offer a restriction-proof alternative to physical events. But what makes in-person and virtual events different and what are hybrid events?
In-Person, Hybrid & Virtual
In-person events like conferences, exhibitions and annual general meetings have been important aspects of business for decades. According to the historical accommodation guide, Historic UK, the first officially recognized trade show, ‘The Great Exhibition’, was held in 1851 by Queen Victoria. These events were routinely held in-person until 1993, according to the Watson Post, when the first virtual tradeshow was held by the Visual Data Corporation; video footage of several exhibitors was uploaded to a web platform and clips were viewed by clicking booths on a floor map.
Essentially, virtual events replicate the experience of in-person events on a laptop or other mobile device. Often, a web platform will be created for the event, through which attendees can access an agenda, live broadcasts, networking functions and other useful features.
Hybrid events bridge the gap between these two event types. Some people will attend the event virtually through a web platform, while others attend in person, likely with the aid of a dedicated mobile event app, promoting an even experience for both groups.
Pivoting through the Pandemic
In the age of COVID, virtual events have become the new normal. While they already boasted economic and environmental benefits, going virtual has kept events alive when going in-person would have been a health risk, not to mention illegal. However, this drastic and vital switch was not without its flaws. From school lessons to showcases, a lack of continuity between the physical and virtual events left millions with a substandard experience, often unfit for purpose; save for a lucky few.
For those companies which already specialised in virtual, hybrid and in-person events, the potential to pivot between the three became invaluable. Event solutions specialists are able to quickly and effectively transition between in-person, hybrid and virtual events This is especially true for those specialising in mobile event apps, as most features and information on an app can be directly lifted and placed into a web platform.
It is this capability to pivot which has emboldened many event organisers to begin hosting hybrid and in-person events again, safe in the knowledge that they can effectively transition to virtual should restrictions intensify. Likewise, if restrictions loosen, event solutions specialists can transfer most web platform content to an event app, opening up the possibility of switching to hybrid or even fully in-person events again.
Inspiring confidence post-lockdown
Pivot potential can be helpful in a range of other likely scenarios. If a speaker or large cohort of attendees is unable to attend your in-person event, you can pivot at least part of the event online to accommodate this. In the past, virtual events have been especially popular as they are more cost effective to run and attend, so fluctuations in an organiser’s budget, or what an attendee is willing to pay, can often be accounted for and mitigated. Likewise, if many attendees live far away from the event location, perhaps oversees, pivoting to hybrid can help to secure this group for the event, without sacrificing those who wish to participate physically, as only those who wish to travel need attend in person.