Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What is a Hybrid Meeting?

The dictionary defines a hybrid as a mixture, a combining of two elements to produce a whole new thing.

When someone uses the word hybrid, what images or ideas does it bring to mind? You may think of your pretty Prius in your garage, or maybe that tomato variety you just planted in your garden. Perhaps you think of your bicycle – not a sturdy mountain bike with wide, knobby tires, yet not a road racer with skinny, slick tires.

Here’s something new to think about – Hybrid Meetings. They take the elements of a live meeting and a meeting via the internet and combine them to produce a whole new kind of meeting. The participants sitting in the meeting room and the participants sitting in front of their computers are “attending” the same event. They may both participate and interact together and with the presenters. While this may sound like a Webinar, it is not. Usually, a Webinar is simply a presenter, alone in front of a web camera, presenting to “attendees” exclusively over the internet.

Here are a few ways that an organization can take advantage of the Hybrid Meeting format: (1) a situation where the conference has drawn less than the expected numbers of attendees; (2) for large associations with thousands of members but only several hundred can physically attend the annual conference; and (3) a situation where a conference is sold out and cannot accommodate any more attendees at the physical event. The online participants register for the event just as the “in person” attendees but with a different fee. This has the potential to really boost participation in and revenue for your event. It can even allow you to build interest virally online and build interest for future events. Archiving is another benefit of Hybrid Meetings and can produce residual revenue for the organization if you make conference presentations available after the event has concluded.

Most experts don’t foresee them replacing live, in-person events, though. People will always benefit from the face-to-face networking opportunities that internet-based meetings can’t fully provide. While there are quite a few companies out there to assist with the technical and production aspects, Hybrid meetings don’t eliminate the need for extensive planning and a cohesive team headed up by an experienced Meeting Planner.

- Ginger Myrick, Meeting Planner