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Hybrid events: A viable solution to event hosting

Hybrid events: A viable solution to event hosting

By Tweuya-Shapwa Nelumbu

Audio professional and tech enthusiast.

Namibia has been living with the COVID-19 pandemic for about two years now, this period has seen the event industry fall on “bended knees” in hopes that fate would ease the spread of the virus.

The pandemic limited any form of physical concert, conference or exhibition from taking place since March 2020, and by August I recall witnessing some of the country’s finest seasoned technicians and engineers losing their jobs.

Considering the unpredictable nature of infections and physical restrictions imposed by the government, the implementation of hybrid events appears to be the viable solution for future conferences, meetings, exhibitions and related events.

It is important to understand the limitations that Covid-19 has imposed on the events industry, especially the unheeded financial implications. Restrictions on the number of people at gatherings mean limiting the amount of revenue event organisers make and the fear of contracting the virus has made event enthusiasts of all kinds reluctant to socially mix with others or attend events.

A hybrid event is a combination of a live and virtual event where in-person and digital elements are utilized to cater for the physical and online audience attending a particular event.

The principle of this approach is to give the physical and online audience a similar experience in terms of quality and engagement. In a case where physical attendees at an event are limited to a set number due to gathering or travel restrictions, hybrid event technology can ensure that remote attendees can participate virtually through platforms such as video conferencing and live streaming. This degree of flexibility suggests a short-term solution and possibly long-term success for the events industry.

Hybrid events offer a number of unique benefits and opportunities that have not been tapped into with in-person events. Virtual attendance practically has no limit as compared to a venue with a limited set number, this means more individuals who are unable to attend physically can participate remotely from anywhere in the world, essentially increasing the marketability of an event. Local online platforms such as allow event organisers to host, sell tickets and market their online events. Furthermore, online events can be monetized through advertising revenue whereby income is generated when displaying advertisements on the online event platform. There is also potential for a better return on investment where a reduction in physical attendance suggests the use of smaller venues, reduced logistics and event technology costs.

The unprecedented challenges encountered since March 2020 should remind us that industries can change course at any given time beyond our control. Stakeholders in the event industry should consider embracing this “new normal” and consider aligning their strategies to the hybrid event model.

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A Guest Contributor is any of a number of experts who contribute articles and columns under their own respective names. They are regarded as authorities in their disciplines, and their work is usually published with limited editing only. They may also contribute to other publications. - Ed.