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How do planners really feel about hybrid events?

Glisser CEO Mike Piddock feeds back on the findings of an event planner research study into how they’re feeling about a hybrid future.

Valuable insight for eventprofs: Glisser has conducted a Market Research Report on hybrid events

It’s seemingly unthinkable that in-person meetings and events should return without keeping many of the virtual elements that replaced them during the past two years.

After all, planners have invested time and energy up-skilling themselves, audience reach has increased dramatically, and the digitization of the face-to-face industry is presenting huge opportunities for engagement, content, and measurement.

However, has anyone thought to ask planners themselves how they feel about a job description that has evolved considerably to now include digital marketing, television production, and home broadband management?

Are they nervous about the unknown, or excited about elevating the potential and ROI of their events? What more needs to be done to educate, train and support planners to move successfully into this new hybrid phase?

To find out, Glisser spoke to planners earlier this year about the perceived challenges and opportunities for events that cater to two different audience experiences.

We discovered that, even by May 2021, over half (51%) had already run a hybrid event and 14% were already into hybrid double figures.

Meanwhile, some 27% were in the process of planning their first hybrid event format.

We expected planners to perhaps be augmenting in-person events with a fairly limited range of virtual components, or maybe reintroduce in-room components to a largely virtual event. But what we discovered was a genuine sense of confidence in running fully-fledged hybrid formats, with 57% planning a fully blended experience for both in-person and online audiences.

Planners told us that they’re feeling about ‘six or seven out of ten’ in terms of confidence levels – pretty solid given the fact that 49% had yet to deliver a single hybrid event.

In fact, if you cut the data slightly differently to just score those who have already run an event, that number rises to seven or eight out of ten – with 20% saying nine or 10. Clearly, getting that first hybrid event under your belt does wonders for confidence levels.

Delivering hybrid isn’t without its challenges though and it seems that the audience experience is the thing keeping planners awake at night, with questions such as: How do you engage both audience types simultaneously? How do you make it meaningful to online delegates? Can you mix them for networking purposes?

It’s welcoming that the challenges the community is focused on (and therefore focused on addressing) are all about the audience experience. Yes, there are cost and planning challenges, but these appear insignificant or at least manageable if you can first crack the audience experience.

Aside from increased lack of sleep, we asked planners how hybrid events would impact them personally.

Our group of respondents saw the value in gaining a new skill set and developing their career (68%) and becoming a better event professional (51%).

These top two responses beat the negative impact of increased stress levels (42%) and extra anxiety (39%) down into the third and fourth places.

In strange circumstances where we’re all having to manage new stressful situations, the fact that planners can look up and understand the bigger picture for them as individuals is really important.

Finding that balance in a new hybrid world is crucial, and this group of planners seems to be very well centered. It’s a powerful statement for the industry and we need to ensure every event professional is supported with training, remuneration and processes to protect their mental and physical health as we move into future formats for blended events.

The full Market Research Report is available to download on the Glisser website here:

This blog is sponsored by Glisser.


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