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Going virtual and the benefits of being hybrid for event professionals

One of the most interesting shifts in delivery of events and meetings in the past 18 months has been the arrival of robust, cost-effective ways to allow virtual attendees to follow the course of an event from their office or home.

Many streaming video solutions available now have matured to the point where event and meetings professionals need little technical expertise. The development of secure, internet-based streaming platforms since the late 1990s has been astonishing and there are now few barriers to the adoption of these technologies.

Event and meeting planners can harness streaming media solutions to broadcast sessions live over the net, assessable through web browser and apps on a range of devices. This live element can add great value to any event, as well as for session presenters, exhibitors and the event planner.

Many solutions offer live chat, which itself can be captured and added to event organiser knowledge, as well as add value for speakers, exhibitors and partners.

All relevant video data can also be stored and made available on demand after the event.

There is much discussion in marketing and wider social web circles around the idea of “Social Objects”. It’s a philosophical term adopted by the web’s thought leaders, led by Brian Solis, and in the events and meetings sector it has a strong resonance.

In these commercial contexts, a Social Object is one that can gather your target customers and influencers around it. This close correspondence with and adherence to a Social Object ensures a stream of what some theorists describe as “Instances” or “Shared Objects”. The more of these that are created, the more successful the commercial and cultural outcomes achieved from the Social Object.

The hybrid event is a prime practical example of a Social Object, where people come together through shared interest and desire to learn, sell and network. The event title, the physical venue and virtual connection points form the Social Object. The streaming video and stored video is a clear example of Instances or Shared Objects, along with all the texts, presentation decks, images and so on that are generated because of the event.

This means that the hybrid event becomes an extraordinarily powerful Social Object on the web (and physically), with the Instances and Shared Objects providing event and meetings planners with a powerful marketing arsenal, before, during and after the event.

In the case of streaming video and stored video, event professionals can generate additional profit through viewers who want to see presentations, speeches and other components at a price.

The market for an event is widened exponentially through being hybrid. Events can now be streamed to anywhere in the world, which can add international interest and participation with further revenue opportunities.

A hybrid event also adds value and incentive for speakers and exhibitors who will benefit from a wider, larger audience with increased exposure, networking and sales opportunities.

The beauty of streaming media solutions is that they offer simple set-up, effective management and detailed analytics that are of great value to speakers, companies and to the event professional in terms of feedback for further events.

These streaming media solutions also give event professionals the opportunity to not only cover costs but also generate further revenues through subscriptions, advertising and pay-per-view, backed by secure payment systems that can be managed by the event organiser.

Hybrid events are a sure-fire way to build successful events. They give event professionals the power to extend “sold-out” sessions to more people and offer the opportunity for partners, exhibitors and other companies to strengthen their marketing and sales messages.

The globalisation of an event through web video technologies cannot be under-estimated. Certainly, there is a lot of noise on the network and people’s time is precious but any event that uses the social web to market, include and manage the event community, then follow up after proceedings have ended, should reap rich rewards.

Remember, too, that the savvy event professional can harness the video platform to produce and promote pre-event marketing messages. These can be shared, using the power of the social web to spread the word.

We are also seeing the commoditisation of event streaming media, with compelling price points, ease of use and delivery of HD-quality a common factor. There has never been a better time to embrace the hybrid event.

 

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