What Hybrid Means FOr the event industry
Remarkable how the word hybrid has become infused into our daily lexicon…and its many applications. Turn on the TV and IBM has an entire campaign of athletes and entertainment celebrities speaking to – hybrid technology; Cisco launched Webex – “driving hybrid work,” and the automotive industry has been onto hybrid cars with increasing popularity over the past few years.
But what does Hybrid mean to the event industry? With large gatherings now back in vogue – how does it apply? Is this a passing fad…or the future of event planning?
Utopia recently put together a team of organizational leaders and hosted a seminar for non-profit organizations from across the country to discuss how hybrid events apply and can be utilized to not only maintain their donor base but look to expand and appeal to a changing demographic.
What is a hybrid event?
Going hybrid allowed us for the first time to bring both of those groups together. Because people who didn’t want to come to a gala were very curious to try it out and being able to do so virtually has made such a huge difference to us. So now whenever we’re approaching any of our events it will always in my mind be a hybrid type of a thing.
So what we’ve learned – evolve or die. We’re not going to go back to just a live event and there definitely needs to be that community element of it, but we know that our ask process in the past followed the typical scripted event that we all know you do and we’ve learned enough from the hybrid event to say we’re going to make the evening a journey.
Who is your audience and your future?
As organizations look to connect with Generation X which stands to inherit and become the wealthiest sector of our society…new strategies for stewardship and growth become a matter of survival. There’s a significant difference in time allocation between the analog (ages 55-75) donor and the digital (ages 25-55) donor. The digital generation has different time priorities.
We talked about the analog donor vs. the digital donor. And there’s really two different types of human beings in the world now, right? Analog are looking for patios and nice books and glasses of red wine and watching sunsets; and digitals are consumers on demand where they want things delivered at their doorstep within 48 hours and they don’t want to go to a 4 hour gala at the Ritz Carleton – they want to join in online and take their spouse out to dinner.
This is the greatest opportunity to make a change, a shift or to go in a very innovative direction.
Let’s face it, this is the analogy I love to use. I think we’ve realized the insanity finally of living in one box; driving an hour to go sit in another box to do our jobs for those of us that have been working in offices. Two hours of lost productivity and the quality of time …and so many companies now saying that’s insane, that’s crazy ..why are we doing that, that’s nutty.
How does this change our live program?
Hybrid events demand more creative planning. For instance, while the cocktail hour is taking place at a live event – the online audience can be entertained by a mixologist with the ingredients provided and sent beforehand. The program – including the Fund a Need and auction items can take place so both audiences participate simultaneously. In fact, technology can allow both at home and live donors to bid against each other.
But what’s most important is reaching out to donors for input on what they’d like to see in upcoming programs.
What about doing an internal workshop like this with your board members or your ‘A’ donors, or your ‘B’ donors or your key stakeholders to sort of help you co-create and design your future event experiences giving them a feeling of ownership like they’re a part of the decision making process because then they’re more likely to invite friends, to get excited about it and then to support it.
What’s clear is the necessity to evolve and shift. Hybrid events provide an optimal setting to engage both live and digital audiences…expanding the potential donor base. Organizations that pivot and look at the shift with creative thought and liberty will be the leaders in event structure.
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