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The event industry is one of the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic on the global market. The worldwide event industry isn't expected to fully return to normal until at least 2023. However, the global pandemic has accelerated changes in the event industry that would have taken years to deploy.
One of them is a hybrid events trend. In 2020, the virtual event industry saw a 1000% growth rate. Though event organizers and many participants can look to a future that allows more in-person events, virtual events are here to stay. According to a survey, 97% of event industry professionals expect to see more hybrid events going forward, and 67% stated that hybrid events are the future of the event industry.
So, let's look more closely at a hybrid event app development, its benefits, features, and tech stack. This article is based on Softermii's experience of developing the successful project Events10X – a hybrid event platform that can host up to 15.000 people simultaneously.
Why hybrid is the future of the event industry
Rather than completely postponing event organization, many professionals in the sphere embrace new rules and adapt to the new normal. That's why the recent video conferencing trends and trends in the event industry show what the future of the business and entertainment worlds will look like.
Event organizing is becoming an important PR tool. A good example of this trend is the product presentations of big corporations, where in the past the main goal was revenue, and now it's a marketing tool for raising brand awareness.
Another emerging trend is a year-round event cycle. As the number of attendees is becoming smaller due to pandemic restrictions, the community has responded to this shift with many event platforms now offering an ongoing community feature.
In a 2021 survey of event planners, 66% said they needed to learn to design digital event experiences to prepare for professional success in the future. Thus, technological disruption has become another trend in the event industry.
Therefore, implementing hybrid events has become one of the most important event industry trends, as it's changing the world as we've known it. Hybrid events share offline events' impressions and networking with the convenience of adapting modern uncertainty to every need.
Why Hybrid Events are so complicated to deploy
Hybrid events offer a unique opportunity to use the various digital tools at our disposal to create a unique experience specifically tailored to interacting with other people through computer or mobile devices.
However, several challenges will arise during custom event mobile app or web platform development. Perhaps the largest, most daunting one is facilitating high-quality video for thousands of users around the globe simultaneously. It entails capturing raw video data, segmenting it into 2-3 second bytes, compressing and encoding that data, streaming it through a distributed network, and decoding it on the user's end, all in literally seconds.
Fortunately, we have WebRTC – a media streaming technology that allows easy multimedia transmission using a simple web browser. However, as WebRTC is a relatively new technology, it might be hard to find developers specializing in implementing it into the projects.
The good news is that our team includes forerunners in the WebRTC app development sphere who understand the complexities that come with the implementation of new technology in an existing workspace. After all, Softermii's goal has always been to create solutions for businesses that help them grow by utilizing versatile programming languages.
Custom App Benefits for Event Planners
In the unstable COVID-19 era, hybrid events have very clear benefits to offer to an event industry, giving the best of both the online and offline world, thus delivering a unique experience to every party.
Better attendees’ experience
First and foremost, with migrating pandemic restrictions, it's always hard to plan future events for all parties – attendees, sponsors, and organizers. However, the hybrid event option makes sure that the attendance may be switched anytime, depending on the circumstances. Thus, there'll be no risk in missing the event, making it possible for more people to plan and attend.
Also, after the COVID-19 hits the world, people tend to lose focus. And hybrid events can give your audience more options – long sections can be broken into shorter ones, content can be made available on-demand, and some meetings can be recorded and sent after the session is finished. Adding features like polls and questionnaires to ensure the speaker or moderator engages the audience is a good idea to keep your audience's attention from waning.
Data collection and analytics
Hybrid event format allows collecting more valuable data, which can help analyze attendee satisfaction and retention rates and gather overall feedback that can be used to improve future events. You can also add the polls and surveys feature to use it for any meeting or forum to collect even more data and use it instantly.
Hybrid event technology provides room for a bigger number of participants without renting a larger event venue. It helps to save money for both event organizers and attendees as they don't have to spend on plane tickets or hotels, and there's no need to be constantly afraid to miss an important event due to pandemic restrictions.
What is a hybrid event
After almost two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, hybrid events are not exactly something new. However, a clear line between hybrid and online events needs to be drawn.
An online event, sometimes also known as virtual, is a conference or live stream experience involving people interacting in an online environment on the web rather than meeting in person. In contrast, a hybrid event is one that uses a combination of in-person and digital elements tailored to each audience for optimal experiences.
Knowing the definition, you must understand that it's impossible to simply move an event online. If you've been to a professional conference before, you'll know that these events include a unique mix of listening to industry speakers, socializing, networking, pitching your product, and entertainment. It's highly important to save and share the same experience. Therefore building a hybrid event app will entail more than just integrating video chat.
The key idea behind hybrid event app development is to allow users to create, host, and manage live events. Depending on the company's size, business demands, and the type of event, the number of attendees may be different. You can hold almost any event in the hybrid form. However, these are the events that are most commonly held offline and online at the same time:
- Online courses
- Fairs & Trade shows
- Networking events
- Broadcast to event
- Panel discussions
- Association meetings
- Product launches
- Live streaming
All types of these events help to build a strong community behind your business, and custom hybrid event software has a great set of attendee management tools to keep all visitors engaged.
Key features of hybrid events
Hybrid events offer a unique opportunity to use the various digital tools at our disposal to create a unique experience specifically tailored to interacting with other people, whether offline or online, through a computer or mobile device. For example, this can be as simple as adding audience interaction features like polls and live reactions to building games and other team-based activities to facilitate building relationships.
As a rule, virtual conference software allows using video, chats, voice — all available tools for communication. Depending on the platform, additional features such as Raise a Hand or Like a Message may be added. However, we suggest not to limit your custom event app to the basic interaction elements, as this technology has a lot more to offer. The features of custom hybrid event platform may be following:
As in offline events, an online booth is a space within the larger virtual event allowing attendees to initiate instant communication with other visitors or speakers via an instant message or a video/audio call. They usually include static text, logos, banners, video, and even a chatbot. The virtual booth may be 3D or page-based. Often, virtual booth exhibitors will host live discussions or demos.
As at offline events, branding is highly important at hybrid events. Your platform should allow to add logos, handpick colors, pin static text, or the possibility of sharing the link or info. It'll help your partners, participants, and attendees to get the most out of your hybrid event.
It is one of the features you visitors won't notice, but you can get use of it. In case the platform doesn't have it, sufficient management of attendees is impossible. It's useful to collect information about attendees, send them notifications, add them to virtual booths, and gather needed data.
No matter how successful your event is, you need to know everything possible about it. Whether you're an organizer of events or simply facilitate them, custom hybrid event software will entail building a system for recording engagement metrics that you can either share with your clients or use in your internal marketing office, for example, to improve the quality of future events.
As at the offline event, when organizing hybrid events, there should be special tools and offers for sponsors. These might be personalized messages or notifications for attendees, the possibility to add logos and handpick colors for booths, pinned texts or links, etc.
Target messages for different audiences
Developing the analytics management tool allows using attendee data to send target messages. They might be useful for notifications about on-site/online events such as workshops or lectures, sponsor materials, reminders before the event's start, etc. The main goal of target messages is to provide the best possible client experience for all the groups of event participants.
Tech stack for hybrid event software
Developing a hybrid event platform requires a profound knowledge of industry and technologies.
The main tool to be used is WebRTC – a popular media streaming technology that allows easy multimedia transmission using a simple web browser.
We in Softermii have gone even further and developed our own customizable video conferencing engine VidRTC based on WebRTC technology. VidRTC saves up two months of development time, dramatically changing the video conferencing solution development approach and adding extra security.
Read also the VidRTC development story.
Other technologies used may be different, but the basic tech stack is as follows:
- Hosted orchestrator
- Load balancer
Softermii Event App Development Expertise
One of the highly successful examples of hybrid event app development is Events10X. It allows organizing conferences & exhibitions with private and group networking. It is delivered through video calls, messaging, broadcasting to over 15.000 people, and doing it all simultaneously.
The virtual expo software solution development was dedicated to the launch of a huge international online event. It was later used to provide offline experience to online participants of Expo2020 and the World Economic Forum in Dubai. Even though we had very tight deadlines, with the help of our own customizable video conferencing engine VidRTC, our team aced the whole process and provided the client with a working solution. We're proud to hold an award from the UAE Ministry of Economy for developing Events10X. The ministry could bring over 16.000 local and international attendees online during the pandemic and provide them with an unforgettable experience.
Create Your Hybrid Event App With Us
As the COVID-19 pandemic showed, the event industry embraces changes very quickly. So, using third-party services for hosting online events is no longer the only option for businesses. It's much better to develop a custom virtual event platform that will perfectly suit specific needs for organizing different kinds of events, whether they'll be fully online or hybrid.
We at Softermii will gladly use our experience and help create hybrid event solutions for all purposes and any level of complexity. Our team of managers and developers will help you create the solution that will work for you. We will discuss the development process, set the milestones and define the budget — give us a call to start working on your project!
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