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Planners Show Interest in—and Concerns about—Hybrid Events

A large-scale survey gauges how planners and their organizations feel about serving in-person and virtual audiences simultaneously even after the pandemic subsides.

A recent survey of 1,530 corporate and association planners by event production and technology firm Encore finds that 56 percent believe their total meetings spend will return to 2019 levels in 2022, while another 12 percent say their event spending will get there by the end of this year. 

However, many respondents also report that the way they’ll spend the money is notably different than before the Covid pandemic began, with more of the budget going to technology solutions. Specifically, hybrid meetings are gaining momentum, with 37 percent of respondents saying that they have executed or started to plan a hybrid event in the past six months. Further, 58 percent say that once the in-person medium becomes available for all their events, the virtual component to their meetings will remain; another 32 percent reported that their organization is still undecided on that. Only 10 percent say there definitely will not be a virtual component to their in-person meetings.

On the flip side, many planners note that both the effort and the cost required to run hybrid events are significant challenges. One-third of respondents say that building out two distinct attendee experiences is among their top two challenges for hybrids, while 35 percent find the cost of providing a satisfying experience to remote attendees to be one of their top two challenges.

Perhaps to keep logistical and technological planning as simple as possible, 61 percent of respondents planning hybrid events say they will use a single in-person location, while 17 percent expect to use multiple locations within a single venue. Only 11 percent report they will use multiple in-person locations that are connected at certain times via technology. 

However, the cost savings on air travel and hotel rooms that can come from holding a multi-site hybrid event could offset the cost of additional venues and technology. For a detailed account of one such event that took place in July 2021, read this MeetingsNet article.

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