Written by Melissa Jones Clark of Meeting Tomorrow
However, the biggest obstacle event planners usually face when pitching a hybrid event to their stakeholders is budget. While your overall spend may be larger for hybrid events, your ROI typically increases right alongside that overall spend.
As a nationwide event production company who has been producing hybrid events for over a decade, Meeting Tomorrow sees firsthand how helpful it is for clients to review the potential return on each of their options before making a decision. Below is a breakdown of the biggest costs associated with going hybrid, and a few ways to articulate the return on investment to your stakeholders.
One of the biggest benefits of a hybrid event is increased reach. Offering a virtual experience can increase your ticket sales, engagement, brand awareness, leads, and more. To make this expansion possible, you need an onsite encoder, who makes the video feed accessible to be watched online. The encoder acts as the link between your virtual and in-person audiences, and opens the doors to a much larger audience than could ever fit in your physical venue.
Investment: Appx. $2,000/day
Return: Take the approximate value generated per attendee and multiply it by the number of virtual attendees you wouldn’t have reached if you kept your event in-person only. Also take into consideration the total savings for each virtual attendee who would have come to the in-person portion if no virtual option was offered.
There are many opportunities to use event footage for greater ROI post-event. Can you turn your sessions into gated content that interested leads can download? What about highlights your marketing team can turn into a preview to increase attendance for your next event? Can you optimize a keynote for YouTube search to increase brand awareness? Investing in camera operators to stream your event to a virtual audience is only the beginning of an ROI on your content.
Investment: 3 cameras and operators = Appx. $6,000/day
Return: Ask your marketing team to quantify the estimated value of a qualified lead’s email address. Then multiply the value by the estimated downloads of your gated content from new contacts.
Hybrid events create new sponsorship opportunities — from virtual booths to gamification to clickable banners, and much more. For example, 6Connex is a hybrid event platform that offers sponsors an array of options to customize their booths with videos, documents, and other interactive content as well as engage with visitors in different ways.
Your sponsors also have access to the valuable data generated from attendees who interact with them. This data is like gold for marketers, as seeing what their visitors reacted to, engaged with, and the questions they asked gives your sponsors the full picture of their engagement. With more placements and better data, you can often increase the cost of sponsorship packages, or add new tiers.
Investment: Varies by hybrid event platform
Return: Calculate your new hybrid sponsorship package price (with new placements/features included), then subtract the original sponsorship package price for in-person only. Multiply that new number by how many sponsors you estimate will purchase the new package for a clearer picture of how much additional sponsorship revenue you can generate by choosing a hybrid format.
Though hybrid events may require more planning resources, the benefit of providing specific, personalized event experiences to your audiences means deeper impact. When your audience has an experience that’s personalized to them, they’ll remember your brand better, be more likely to return, and share what they learned.
Investment: Additional planning hours required for adding a virtual component
Return: Think big picture. Once you have all your estimates in place, calculate a potential return for a hybrid event, and compare it to an estimate for an in-person or virtual-only event. In some cases, the hybrid option may not come out with a better return. But in many cases, the increased reach, greater sponsorship options, and personalized experience will generate more value for you and your stakeholders.
In-person events will never go away, nor do we want them to. But the prevalence of hybrid and virtual event platforms in the last year have shown us another way that is rich in data, inclusive, dynamic, sustainable and has the potential to provide greater ROI for planners, and a more immersive experience for attendees.
Melissa Jones Clark is the Director of National Accounts & Brand Experience at Meeting Tomorrow, a nationwide event production company. With over a decade of experience in the events industry, she is passionate about the impact events can have inspiring, educating, and bringing together people across every industry that exists. Ask her about why she loves the inclusivity of virtual events, her favorite super-creative formats, and the best thrifting spots in Chicago.