Digital Event News January 2022 - Page 29

January 2022

Opinion 29

Lessons from the hybrid frontline

Chris Elmitt , CEO of cloud-based platform LIVVE shares his experience of going hybrid for a healthcare client in Madrid .

In a previous article for Digital Event News I wrote about three different models for running hybrid events - each of which dealt with the virtual and in-room audiences in different ways .

At one extreme was our Match of the Day approach – where the in-room audience had a full length ( e . g . day-long ) experience tailored for them , while the online audience would have a shorter , madefor-virtual experience , which comprised of a highlights package from the main show broadcast from an on-site studio .
At the other end was a fully integrated experience where in-room and online audiences could attend “ together ”. Having recently delivered the latter for a healthcare client in Madrid , here are five things we learned .
First , we learned that virtual hybrid audiences behave in a very similar way to pure virtual . That is to say that they sign-up in much larger numbers than they turn up ( three to one ratio ), and the longer the show , the fewer that stay .
Our goal in designing the event was to keep the days down to three hours ( a best fit line between in-room and online we felt ). But that was uncomfortable for a team that had six hours of content per day .
While the longer programme suited the in-room audience , by the time the show finished , we only had one third of the peak online audience still attending . The difficulty is in making a division between content that is valuable for both audiences and content that can be kept for in-person audiences .
Second , we discovered that hybrid events are special in the minds of the guests . The client exceeded their expectations in terms of reach for the event . Both in-room and online attendees that they hadn ’ t expected to engage and attend did , in part because of the special status of the event being hybrid .
Third , we discovered that , as widely trailed , hybrid events are complex to plan and run technically – but that is no reason not to do it . It is just a reason to ensure that you work with a very highly-skilled crew .
In this instance , the technical solution was provided by a very effective partnership between James Gibson at Love Live , working with Stu Brown at SBAV and the team at DuShow based in Madrid , with the virtual element and remote speaker management expertly managed by the Crystal Interactive team .
Fourthly , I was reminded of the value of pre-records . We already know how much strain they can remove from virtual events , but in hybrid , they are arguably even more important .
The tension of watching a remote presentation where every one of the 100 in-room audience members is thinking : “ is Bob ’ s internet connection going to hold out to the end of his presentation ?” is as unnecessary as it is unbearable .
So did this fest of technical complexity and uncertainty put me off the hybrid format ? Quite the opposite : the client built meaningful relationships they could never have done either with face-to-face or pure virtual , and the sense of connection when a participant from online was brought “ into the room ” via Crystal ’ s technology and was able to have a spontaneous exchange with a speaker on-stage showed me how far we have come technically as an industry in the last two years .
I am excited to see how agencies , clients and productions teams build on their early experiences to scale the hybrid format for more widespread use .