Hanging with Hank: Exploring Hybrid Events as Part of Your CE Strategy

by | May 29, 2023 | Documentation, Technology, Thought Leadership

Hanging with Hank: Exploring Hybrid Events as Part of Your CE Strategy

By Hank

In this episode of Hanging with Hank, Hank the Emu chats with Rick Rutherford, CE21’s VP of Industry Outreach, to explore how Hybrid Events are an important component of your continuing education strategy.


Hank What is the impact of the pandemic era on events and how have hybrid events been utilized in response to this impact?

Rick Virtual and Hybrid Events were not recently created in reaction to the global pandemic. Organizations have been hosting these events for years. The pandemic did turn them into a lifeline for many organizations struggling to keep their events, and the revenue generated by them, largely intact. For some organizations that meant stepping out of their comfort zones and into the virtual technology world for the first time.


Hank How do Hybrid Events impact the rapidly escalating costs associated with hosting in-person events?

Rick: Adding a virtual component to a conference can help reduce the size of the facility typically needed, as well as reduce food and beverage expenses. From the attendee perspective, the sharp rise in travel costs makes attending in-person events increasingly difficult for some people. Companies that traditionally covered the cost of sending employees to in-person events are increasingly taking a hard look at the overall cost of continuing that practice. Hybrid events have become a proven solution that has positively impacted how the meetings are being designed.


Hank How can Hybrid Events impact membership retention?

Rick The innovations that COVID-19 has driven within the association sector are not going away, and that represents a tremendous opportunity for associations to engage their members like never before. We’ve worked with a number of groups where only a small percentage of their members attended their in-person events. The reality of only a small portion of your constituents participating in these high-value events is not a formula for success. It doesn’t help with retention. Virtual meetings have increased their reach and enabled them to capture new audiences. Hybrid events can play an important role in effectively addressing the generational shifts many organizations are experiencing. As Millennials and GenY become the highest percentage of members, the challenge to meet the changing needs and expectations of these groups will continue to grow. According to a report from Meeting Professionals International, 53% of GenY event attendees are OK with experiencing a conference online.


Hank As we exit the pandemic era, what will the next normal be for events? 

Rick: There is no simple, one-size-fits-all answer to the question of virtual vs face-to-face events. Some version of a hybrid event appears to be the solution many groups are beginning to lean into. People want to connect, to be together in the same space. But there are those who will continue to prefer or can only attend events remotely. They are ready and willing to engage with your organization if provided the avenue to do so. While the answer is not certain, the need to learn and adapt remains a priority.


Hank How can our clients determine the best course for future events?

Rick: The best way to come up with an actionable solution may be to simply ask your members/customers their preference for attending events. Asking them when, where, and how they prefer to meet can help eliminate a lot of wasted effort and frustration. Creating a poll that covers multiple potential scenarios can reveal the “right” solution for your organization today. One thing is for certain, it’s never been more important to remain agile in determining how your organization should move forward.


Hank How can CE21 help our clients create flexible, custom plans for their events? 

Rick: Having navigated the full range of live, in-person, virtual, and hybrid events, CE21 has developed the tools and expertise to help you host the event that makes the most sense for your organization –  whether that be hosting a fully hybrid event; an in-person event with limited streaming, or a 100 percent virtual event.  Our nationwide videography team can record these events to play live or later on demand. In addition, we offer opportunities to expand vendor and sponsor presence with our virtual tradeshow; and much more!


Read our full white paper on “Why You Should Consider Hybrid Events as a Part of Your Continuing Education Strategy”.


Watch their entire conversation here: