If you’re like most meeting and event organizers, you’ve produced at least one hybrid event since March 2020. And nearly two years into the pandemic, 68 percent of your peers say it’s a scenario they’ve become more comfortable with, but it is a complicated landscape. At Encore, we’re thrilled to see in-person meetings making a comeback. We also believe in hybrid and it’s exciting for three very big reasons we think you’ll appreciate it, too.
Reason No. 1: Diversity
Have you ever heard that quote, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”? If you want breakthrough ideas, you need to convene with people who represent diverse backgrounds, education and economic levels, cultural perspectives, and abilities. Only then will you be able to arrive at opinions, conclusions, and solutions that are truly different. In this era of disruptive change, diversity is a core strength that every event should foster. And hybrid experiences are the best way to open the door to wider, more diverse audiences than you’ve hosted in the past.
Think about it. If the only place someone can experience your event is in real time, in a physical venue, then you may lose:
- People who can’t afford to travel
- People who can’t take time away from the office
- Caregivers who can’t disentangle from family obligations
- People in far-flung places who are under travel restrictions
Hybrid events break down these barriers and bring new audiences to you. That sets the stage for more diverse conversations, collaborations and innovation.
Reason No. 2: Equity
Great meeting and event organizers know how important it is to design events with their participants’ needs in mind. Even so, many forget to think about attendees who have mobility issues, or who may have other physical or mental challenges that create barriers to enjoying face-to-face events. Whether it’s a temporary disability, like recovering from a hip replacement, or a permanent one, like hearing loss, people who are differently abled often can’t enjoy your event in the same way people without those challenges can.
Don’t believe us? Imagine what it’s like to be on crutches and having to balance a plate of hors d’oeuvres with a drink. Or to be in a crowded room and not be able to hear the speaker. Or how stressful it is to not have anything on the buffet you know is safe to eat. Or be asked to pay full price for your translator or caretaker to accompany you. All these things erode enjoyment of your face-to-face event because, although you are treating everyone equally, you can’t provide an experience that everyone can enjoy in the same way.
In contrast, hybrid events create a more equitable environment for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy themselves.
Reason No. 3: Inclusion
Another saying we love is from Verna Myers: “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”
Face-to-face events can overwhelm people who aren’t comfortable being in crowds. That audience has widened during the pandemic to include not only introverts, but also people who are worried about health risks, and those who haven’t left their house in two years.
When you include a hybrid option, you’re able to meet people where they are. If they’re comfortable traveling, giving hugs and dancing, then you’re providing them an experience on-site. But if those activities deter them from joining, and you create digital experiences, you’re allowing them to connect, learn, share and grow with others in their own way.
And when you have a hybrid experience that is accessible where everyone feels heard, seen and included, that’s something to celebrate.
What are the reasons you enjoy hybrid events? Share your thoughts with us by tagging @encore on social networks.