A brief history of events: from hybrid to always-on
A packed auditorium that leads into an exhibition hall with hundreds of attendees gathering around booths and stands. Somewhere else entirely staff take their seats in a conference room ready to Zoom call their shareholders. Whether it’s a packed live venue or a digital stream, online and in-person events can mean many different things to different people.
As tech and audiences change, the event industry has had to keep up. Live events made way for online events that allowed people to attend internationally. Then hybrid events came along with the pandemic. Being the safe bet against cancellation having both online and offline systems on standby at a moment’s notice.
Audiences have changed as new forms of events are rising to meet the demands of modern event goers.
Past: Live Events
The main thing that must be etched into many event organizers minds from the last few years is the cancellations. Hiring venues has always been the cost of admission to the events game but businesses aren’t going to spend that if there is no reliable way to guarantee that it can actually run.
The pandemic has also brought to light just how inflexible these types of physical events are. A venue hall that fits 500 people means you can’t grow and always restricts you locally somewhat.
Outdated: Online Events
Then comes online events. Obviously, they’ve always been around but not in the same way they have been the last 2 years. Here to pick up pieces of the scrambling event industry online events allowed a somewhat business as usual approach to things when they couldn’t be in-person.
As an unintended side effect, online events have shown how much easier it is to make last-minute changes as well as reach a much wider international audience with no tagged travel costs. Now it doesn’t matter if your event has 200 people or 20,000 (well it can in terms of online bandwidth, but it’s a much more manageable situation). Meanwhile, even though it’s certainly a challenge to keep people engaged at virtual events they offered the opportunity to have content available before and after an event.
No more worrying about venues, international streaming, limitless attendees. Even as things started trepidatiously getting back to normal it was clear to see there were some merits to online events that were certainly worth keeping even as companies try to steer back to physical.
Now: Hybrid Events
Now companies have adopted a hybrid event model. While that can mean different things to different people it invariably means taking the best parts of online and in-person events to make it the best it can be.
Largely a response to the pandemic these online/offline events allowed cancellations or changes to regulations to have minimal impact – event organizers always knew that something would be going ahead.
This latest trend had the advantage of allowing small events to hit a much larger audience they wouldn’t normally be able to reach.
Next: Always-On Events
The trend of Hybrid didn’t last long though and on the other side of a global shutdown a new type of audience emerged. People had a desire to return to live events, but on their own terms.
Who can blame them. More choice, on-demand content and decentralization are more normal than ever and the same is true for the way we see events.
Then the ‘Always-On Events’ entered the scene. Sometimes referred to as communities or community events, they came about due to people’s desire to have their event available at all times. In this model the before and after an event are just as important as the event itself. Here members self-host their own smaller sessions before an event online, or they go into a post-webinar chatroom to continue the discussion in more depth.
Having something available locally or at your fingertips throughout the year fits better to busy schedules and keeps issues front of mind.
It’s also a blessing to the event organizers of the world that it also results in much lower barriers to entry. All they need is an all-in-one community platform. Once live a community leads itself with the guests themselves building and growing the community themselves.
Want to learn more about what always-on events and communities can do for you? See how others are using it here.