Is It Finally Time For Hybrid Events?
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If you’re like us, you’ve been to a fair share of virtual events lately. If you are us, you maybe have been to one too many at this point.
Full disclosure, I’m attending a virtual conference while writing this. And while the hosting company is not a client and therefore I probably shouldn’t feel guilt about not giving the current speaker (who happens to be particularly dry) my undivided attention, I still do. And the reason is simple: I would never have the nerve to be writing an unrelated article while attending a speaker session at anyone’s event, regardless of whether they are a client or not. When you’re someone’s guest, it’s really important to act like one.
And yet this is just one of the many inherent problems of the virtual world we’ve all been inhabiting since March last year. I’m willing to wager that – collectively – many of our social skills have waned. What’s the old saying – If you don’t use it, you lose it? Well we’re not using it, at least not the way we once were. And for far too long it’s been far too easy to turn the sound down on someone who isn’t positively riveting and start about a pattern of multitasking. I don’t like it, and I’m legitimately concerned for how we behave when full events return.
Which is why I’m eager to get it all started. I ask every solution provider we talk with what their plans are for events in the coming months – how much marketing they are doing, how many people will they send, what they expect for attendance, etc – all of it. And the consensus – that events will be a hybrid of physical and virtual for quite some time to come, enabling those who want to attend to do so, and those who want to stay home to get benefit, as well – is good enough for me. So much so, that later this month we’ll be publishing a “How To” guide in part of our Vendor Connect series, flying und the banner of How To Make The Most Of Hybrid Events. If you’re interested in reading it, we’d be happy to send you a copy.
So Now What?
GroceryShop in October will be the first event I attend in person this year, and I’m really looking forward to it. Will attendance be strong? Will there be handshakes and passed apps and networking galore? Hard to tell. But if the wedding I attended a few weeks ago is any indicator, it’s not going to be normal.
I viewed that event as a case study for what “live” gatherings might look like for our industry, and while the planners shared that very few people turned down their invite (of course I asked), it was pretty clear from the get-go that isolative behaviors from the pandemic are going to die hard. A great band, great food, and a beautiful setting weren’t enough to lure many people off the sidelines, and there were a lot more heads buried in phones than anything I’d seen previously.
Bottom line: events are going to be weird for a while. The sooner we get started, the sooner we can hopefully get past it. Hope to see you out there.