Can hybrid events be a part of your marketing strategy?-- Rahul Khanna

I truly believe that hybrid events are a great opportunity to feed the ever-hungry tech-savvy millennial writes Rahul Khanna, Founder, Barcode Entertainment


Last 6 months has definitely made brands and agencies rethink the way they connect and interact with their audiences . The sudden cancellation of fashion shows and live events has compelled brands to formulate new ways to engage their consumers. 

The spread of Covid 19 in a way made it almost imperative for brands to revise their whole creative strategy in order to deliver that same level of seamless and memorable experience to their customer while adopting to ways of this new normal. Several organizations which earlier focused on a traditional marketing approach must adapt to methods of this new digital world. 

A metric of measuring ROI in the post covid marketing era would be defined by ‘How do brand managers and agencies constantly innovate to create radically successful campaigns ?’

One of the most valuable adjustments we as an event agency made is creating a middle-ground for our customers by integrating an omni-channel approach. The sudden shift in our marketing practices made us realize that our consumers were ‘Phygital Beings’; we saw that our clients were able to make purchases both online and offline and thus we as an event agency had to redesign our processes to integrate both the physical and digital worlds. 

At Barcode, we are aware that human interaction has always been a crucial aspect in mapping a customer’s journey. For instance, we conducted a series of Financial Awareness Virtual events for a large BFSI customer which had 1500 attendees. One of the basic problems our team encountered was that there was a limited amount of human interaction. This made us realize that a combination of physical and virtual that is hybrid events would be the best way forward in this new normal as it would integrate both an in-person and virtual experience which would ultimately be a great way to deliver both an authentic and extraordinary experience to event attendees.

Here are two reasons why I personally believe that hybrid events will be the future:

There are two types of people - The first set are the risk-takers who are ready to step out and attend in-person gatherings with the easing of government restrictions around Covid 19, and there is another group of people who might feel uncomfortable to attend or travel for in-person events for various safety concerns. 

We are well informed - The pandemic has made us realize how it is possible to hold conferences and events virtually at the comfort and leisure of our own homes, but at the same time it has also made us realize the importance and requirement of in-person interaction.

For the next year or so, hosting an event of full capacity with the immense restrictions and guidelines of the state almost seems to be nearly impossible. What this means is that brands/agencies which usually utilize hosting events as part of their branding component would have to adhere to what we refer to as the ’TV Show Model’ or simply put a ‘live performance’. This basically entails the integration of an online as well as offline component. The first component would be a live performance taking place on a live screen (offline component) while the second would be the virtual or online audience that would easily be able to interact with the live performers and receive a response in real-time. Over here, technologies like Augmented reality, virtual audience mapping and avatars would definitely play a vital role in creating that same seamless journey for customers as though they were attending an in person event. 

Moreover, Barcode sees this shift to a hybrid platform as a way to garner opportunity and success in the long run. When it comes to hybrid events there are immense advantages. Firstly, this format will enable brands to reach a larger audience by allowing its participants to choose how they want to participate. The people who are unable to attend due to safety concerns or travel restrictions would still be able to be part of this event through its virtual component which will in turn help the brand capture a greater number of responses. Secondly, a hybrid platform will help mitigate costs and at the same time increase revenue. This will be possible by charging a small fee for guests attending online, which will ultimately be a great way to increase show proceeds. Lastly, the recorded content available post attendance can be utilized by brands to further strengthen their recognition and enhance their exposure. 

I truly believe that hybrid events are a great opportunity to feed the ever-hungry tech-savvy millennial. Nevertheless, we do aim to find a sustainable approach to virtually and seamlessly building a brand.

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