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VOK DAMS has been producing hybrid events since 2010 and had a major role in defining the format. What makes an event a hybrid, what are its advantages, what is the current situation regarding hybrid events and how will they develop in the future? We answer all these questions and more in this article.

So what defines a hybrid event?

A fundamental part of every hybrid event is the traditional haptic event: a real-life space for people to meet and to interact. Space where people can physically experience brands and companies. We nowadays call this an offline event as opposed to the currently trending online events.

This is then enhanced by utilizing digital communication channels, technologies and instruments. A virtual add-on of the offline event. The combination of a real-life physical presence and the virtual extension makes a hybrid event. It’s important to understand that a hybrid event is not an online replacement of an offline event. Both parts are equally important and operate in unison.

Hybrid events interlink live-marketing with mobile applications, social media applications and location-based services. Building on participation and engagement, it is this open environment that makes hybrid events the ideal platform to convey corporate or brand related content – the more so, as the online part allows reaching a maximum amount of participants. By combining an offline setting with online communication channels, hybrid events do not only maintain a high target group attention, they also do so in a much more individual and impactful way than classical advertising, PR or sponsoring activities.

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By enriching a “real” event before, during and after its occurrence with core elements of virtual interaction, hybrid event strategies are true win-win concepts of modern marketing communication.

More Brand Exposure and Increased Brand Awareness

Although live-marketing is one of the communication channels with the highest contact intensity, its individual reaction time to brand messages and brand exposure nevertheless is not always immediate. Virtual communication channels at the other hand allow instant reactions. One could say that hybrid events manage to break open the limits of time and space. With longer and more intensive brand exposure and simultaneously with increased coverage, hybrid event strategies create a more immediate and impactful communication of brands and products.

Additional coverage increased contact and more intensity

As the virtual event part is not limited to the duration of the event, or to individual phases of the event marketing, hybrid events can significantly increase both the coverage and contact duration of live communication. Social networks, as well as mobile applications, can accompany the complete event process throughout, acting as supporting and intensifying measures and thus create not just a wider range of coverage but also additional contact intensity.

As communication begins long before the event and continues after the event, virtual elements can effectively strengthen the relationship between participant and brand. They increase the individual interaction period and their tailor-made content makes for more profound perception and processing.

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Latest Developments of Live-Marketing

Hybrid events are thus understood as a virtual extension of an offline live event. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, all offline events – be it customer, dealer or employee events, congresses, trade fairs or roadshows – are currently being replaced by virtual events. While people cannot participate in the offline events, they are offered the opportunity to participate in its virtual counterpart; participating from home. They can visit virtual trade show stalls, download information, participate in presentations or lectures via webcam and exchange opinions in chatrooms and forums.

This is a drastic departure from the live events we all were used to, with severe impact on the effectiveness and impact of events. Although we only have been in this extraordinary situation for a couple of months, it has become clear that one cannot just replace a live event with an online event. The current replacement of live experiences with digital live events is creating an increased understanding of the use of digital instruments, resulting in the digital component of events receiving a real boost. On the other hand, a thirst for real experiences is developing.

From now onwards, hybrid events will play a decisive role in live-marketing and events. Digital formats of interaction and communication will have to be included in live event formats, not replacing them. Understanding how to use and implement digital assets to meet the needs of the target groups in live-marketing is now of key importance.