By John Maniscalco, VP Customer Adoption
If there’s one rule about the technology industry, it’s that change is constant. One area there has been dramatic change is in the event space. The digital and hybrid event trend has advanced significantly, increasing the value of these events for the companies that host them. Working in this industry for 16 years — including 8 at Cisco supporting meeting and event software consulting, implementation and adoption — and now at Mainstay, I can tell you firsthand that digital events aren’t just evolving, they’re getting stronger. In previous years, on-site events were one of the cornerstones of many B2B tech companies’ overall marketing plan. Networking and on-site leads were crucial to a robust sales pipeline. In fact, B2B companies typically allocated 18% of their marketing budgets to in-person events according to a Forrester study conducted before the pandemic.
Prior to the emergence of digital-event-driven services, the virtual component of events was a very small piece of the event umbrella. Technology for virtual or hybrid meetings was mostly limited to internal meetings where attendees listened to a speaker present while a livestream was broadcast for those unable to attend in person. While impressive for the time, the video was essentially just live streamed footage — typically subpar in quality and the reliability suspect. In the past, compared to the 18% of marketing budgets allocated for events, only 4% of the overall event budget was earmarked for digital events.
2020 Changed Everything for Events
Digital events were no more than an afterthought. That is, until COVID-19 changed all of that. Companies were now faced with a new challenge, how to evolve in a completely digital environment. This meant that all events were going to be virtual. Using virtual meeting software, digital event platforms were still struggling to emulate the in-person experience.
Only a year later, companies like Hopin have taken what were once clunky and boring digital events to a new level. By incorporating professional grade video, interactivity apps, breakout rooms, event giveaways and the ability to host more that 100,000 attendees in a single event, Hopin has transformed the digital event landscape into something much closer to the in-person event experience. In addition, companies that employ best-in-class platforms like Hopin, have access to enhanced analytics.
The Benefits of a Hybrid Event Approach
Gone are the days of collecting cards in booths. Now, event organizers are able track how long individuals stayed in a particular session, what questions they asked, who they interacted with and much more. This not only allows the sales teams to focus on stronger leads, it cuts down the conversion time by allowing them to focus on the products that potential customers are most interested in.
Now that things are starting to shift back to in-person, what’s the value in all virtual and hybrid events? It all boils down to interactivity, cost reduction, increased leads, better analytics and accessibility. Even though more people can go in person doesn’t necessarily mean that they will.
The emerging trend in events is a shift to the hybrid model. While in-person events are starting to pick back up, there is a much smaller group of individuals attending in person. This shift has led to a much larger role for the digital portion of the hybrid event—integrating all the technology and tools mentioned above with in-person events. Reducing the number of in-person attendees dramatically cuts the cost of the in-person portion of the event. For example, the use of smaller venues, reduced food catering, lower travel expenses and a fewer staff could decrease the average event budget by up to 50% — while potentially increasing the reach of the digital audience by 10x or more.
Learn More about the Future of Events
Recently, the Mainstay team recently partnered with Hopin to develop a whitepaper detailing the trends and the value and economic drivers of the hybrid event model mentioned above. If you’d like to learn more about how you can dramatically reduce costs of your in-person events while increasing your event reach, you can download the paper here.