On 27th May 2021, the Australian’s Society for Microbiology (ASM) was 4 days out from its planned Annual National Scientific Meeting and Trade Exhibition. With live events in Australia taking place primarily as hybrid events in the months prior, there was every reason to be excited about getting some attendees back in the venue for what promised to be a stellar hybrid event.
And for those unable to travel to be there in person or those preferring the flexibility of the hybrid element, the event would offer a virtual version, making ASM 2021 truly hybrid and incredibly accessible.
Then, just 4 days prior to the start of the event, Victoria was plunged into its 4th lockdown following confirmation of 26 new cases of Coronavirus and fears that hundreds of people may have been exposed.
The in-person event could no longer take place at all. That sort of news just 4 days out from a big event is the stuff of event planner nightmares.
But even with such little notice, the event was still able to take place virtually. The organisers were successfully (and quickly) able to convert the in-person element to online and make a successful virtual event because it was already set up as a hybrid one, meaning much of the required infrastructure and logistics were already in place.
At Joyn, we were able to take the foundations already put in place for the virtual element of the planned hybrid event and quickly pivot to go all virtual, ultimately ensuring ASM 2021 could still take place, and it was a resounding success.
Our take away from this and many other events that are being run as a hybrid event: that hybrid events are the reason the show can go on.
Pandemic-proofing isn’t the only benefit of hybrid
There are plenty of event organisers and delegates alike who are eager for face-to-face events to take place again. But situations like that in Victoria in late May highlight the ongoing complexities that event organisers face. Surprise lockdowns, travel restrictions in different parts of the country and further afield and what is ultimately just a highly volatile and unpredictable landscape mean that events businesses can’t rely on being able to gather people together the way they once could.
We have been running hybrid events long before the Covid Pandemic. They have become the event delivery method of choice due to the Pandemic, however so many events saw the benefits of hybrid prior to Covid.
These benefits include:
- The ability to bring in delegates from all over the world who might not have otherwise chosen to attend because of travel.
- You can cut the carbon footprint of your event significantly by reducing overseas travel and allowing overseas delegates to attend remotely.
- Giving people the option of attending online or attending in person means we offer those who are somewhat more introverted or who simply prefer not to attend large gatherings the option to still enjoy the event.
- Online versions give us access to a lot of data about the talks that were most engaged with, most attended and so forth, all of which is incredibly valuable in planning future events.
- All content will be available for attendees after the event is complete, keeping delegates engaged for months after the event date.
Event insurance in pandemic times
Even as many countries are in full vaccine mode and we race towards some degree or “normality,” the events industry is still up against it.
Even where restrictions permit live, in person events, there are reports of event organisers struggling to get insurance policies that will cover cancellations now. With such an unpredictable situation and a fast moving one at that, being confident that an event even weeks in advance can go ahead is difficult, let alone trying to plan one months and months in advance.
In February of this year, Alli MacLean (global product leader of live events for Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty) told Inside the Game that: “It is our understanding that no cover is available in the current market for event organisers seeking protection against cancellation of events due to COVID-19."
This isn’t just an issue affecting sporting events, but one affecting business events and exhibitions of all kinds. Getting your hands on a policy that would cover you in the event of a cancellation caused by Covid isn’t getting any easier just yet.
So what is the events industry to do? Simply not operate until this all goes away?
That would signal the death of so many businesses in the space. And we speak day to day to businesses who just want to get back about their work and start planning and executing events.
Covid is a huge risk factor and if it’s a challenge to get the right cover for potential cancellations, this leaves organisers risking an astronomical bill in the event of unforeseen changes.
This is the reason hybrid events are so valuable. They allow complete flexibility for event organisers to know, that no matter what, the show will go on.
Beyond Covid: Hybrid Makes Sense
A pandemic nobody could have planned for is a sure-fire way to make us realise how unpredictable life can be. And even when Covid is a thing of the past, that’s something I imagine will stick with many of us.
How many situations have you, as event planners, experienced that has thrown the spanner in the works of your plans.
- Air traffic control strikes stop people flying in.
- A speaker breaks a leg and can’t get to the venue.
- The venue is forced to cancel on you for reasons outside of their control.
None of these are beyond the realms of reality. Hybrid means you can open your doors to people all over the world (speakers, attendees and sponsors) without them even needing to set foot out of their home if they don’t want to. But it also means you’ve put foundations in place to pivot fast if something out of your control changes your plans.
If you’d like to talk to our team about taking your event hybrid, get in touch today.