By Adjunct Associate Professor Deanna Varga
Is the term Hybrid holding us back from getting the most out of our events? What is the true value of hybrid events? These are some of the critical questions facing event managers today and they formed part of the robust discussion in the session: How to Monetise Virtual and Hybrid Event Content at the AIME 2022 Knowledge Program.
The session started by proposing to remove the term hybrid from our event vocabulary altogether! Why? Because some would argue that having content designed for a face-to-face event delivered online, is not doing anyone any favours. Approaching event design from a ‘hybrid’ perspective, may not allow room to focus on the very different needs of a virtual audience versus a face-to-face audience – and then time to consider how to monetise those needs.
With two very different audiences in play, face-to-face and virtual, we asked, ‘what is the true value of a hybrid event?’ Are they really what our audiences need, want and, importantly, will pay for?
Experienced event professionals have been pondering the topic for two years and how they can monetise their online content, especially with non-members and non-traditional event participants.
Speaker Melanie Wilson, National Manager, Conference and Events, The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, said that there was so much free virtual content during the pandemic, it became the ‘popcorn’ of the events industry. “Content could be repurposed in a subscription model for non-members; to form a new revenue stream.”
Jodi Phillips, Event Coordinator, Statistical Society of Australia, who attended the session, was motivated to think about the monetisation of content assets their organisation already has: “We liked the idea of the subscription model for non-members. The session made us think that there’s potentially a third revenue stream we hadn’t considered.”
Monetising content involves a series of execution decisions, and speaker Stephen Noble, Manager Asia Pacific, The Conference Company, suggested that one of the main points to consider is timing. “Having a delay between the face-to-face and virtual events provides greater value for the online experience and allows the organisers more time to tailor content based on the physical event outcomes – it is the same content but packaged differently for an online audience.”
El Kwang, Founder + Chief Engager, BEAM, Singapore, said after the session, he was inspired to ensure that event design must be centred around what our participants want: “Particularly how they want to be engaged and how they want to engage with others. Also, how the participants value the ‘why’ of their engagement with the event is proportionately related to how much they will pay.”
Here are the top tips to consider when monetising virtual events and if hybrid events should proceed:
Do your research! – Know the audience
Sometimes it is worse than doing nothing… a poor digital interface leaves a lasting negative impression
Leverage & Repurpose: Integrate existing content into online learning modules via a learning management system (but remember the shelf life of the content)
Consider paid subscriptions for non-members and non-attendees
If you are digitally integrated… stop being a sheep and find innovative solutions for your community
If Hybrid isn’t the way forward, what is? Here are the terms the session came up with: Dual Events, Blended, Mixed and Fusion experiences.
This session was moderated by Adjunct Associate Professor Deanna Varga, Founder and CEO, Mayvin Global; with speakers Melanie Wilson National Manager, Conference and Events, RACGP and Stephen Noble, Manager, Asia Pacific, The Conference Company.