Destination Hybrid

By 12th March 2021Blog

Hybrid isn’t a new thing.  Yet, it seems to have got event professionals scratching their heads over the last few months. If we look around us, it’s not difficult to find examples of hybrid in everyday life.

It’s in our food – think Rhubarb and Custard, Strawberries and Balsamic Vinegar and Salted Caramel.  Or, at a more complex level…carrots, beets, celery and (sorry kids) cauliflower.

Embedded in our transport (Cars, Trains, Bikes), technology (tablets) and even dogs – I mean whoever would have imagined celebrating a Cockapoo winning a title at Crufts?  We could look at music and list hundreds of great examples of duets that struck a magic chord (there are just as many that should never have happened – keep that in mind for later).

The point is, we’ve been doing it for decades. So why now, when we are faced with the simple equation of
Virtual + Live = Hybrid, are so many failing to find a clear answer?

We’ve identified 3 possible contributors…

  1. The Runaway Virtual Train

Many experience planners and agencies had to jump quickly onto a train without truly knowing the end destination.  They just knew all other transport had been cancelled and it seemed like everyone else was getting on board.  After a while, still not knowing the destination, people started to get settled and to actually enjoy the ride.

And then the announcement came…“we will soon be approaching our next station, where all passengers must change”.  This is the moment we are in now.  ‘Everything virtual’ may start to become a thing of the past, whilst ‘everything face to face’ may be perceived as a destination that no longer exists (let’s be honest, it hasn’t existed for many years).  The question is, what does it look like to have one foot on the train and the other on the platform?

  1. The Legacy of Live

When looking ahead at the prospect of people getting back together, we immediately look back to the past and how we can bring it back.  We also start to imagine what it will be like with the inevitable restrictions in place.  So, the same set up, but fewer people. We can deal with that. Right?

But the question should really, “what if there wasn’t a legacy to refer back to?” How would we design that experience knowing what we know now?  Would they be as elaborate, or more about a tailored/personalised experience?  Would we see the venue as a fixed experience point or simply a hub for two-way interaction across the globe?

  1. The Failed Attempts

With all the right intentions and even the right technology to hand, finding the magic blend of connecting people in a meaningful way has been met with mixed levels of success.

Getting a better virtual experience than you’ve had before is okay, but it’s not sustainable.  Until the remote screen experience is curated to ‘enhance’ rather than ‘replace’, it will always be a short-term win.

But it’s the challenges experienced in connecting communities in any complex manner that starts to blur the vision as we look forward to simultaneously connecting between live and virtual.

So, what should we do?

In the main, we need to forget the legacy in order to make 1+1=3 and with it make hybrid the future of all experiences, rather than another destination on the runaway train on our way ‘back home’.

We need to take all the learnings from pure virtual, but only hold onto the bits that added value – global reach in a sustainable way; rich data to build more personal experiences; plus all the other obvious wins).

We then need to see live events with brand new eyes.  Maybe that’s safety and personal space over high end production.  Perhaps a live experience controlled by a virtual audience.  Or could it be that venues are the ultimate final destination at the end of a digital journey?

We don’t have all the answers (does anyone?), but what we do have is sight of a new canvas ahead that is calling out for disruptive creative and we can’t help but be energised by that.  It’s time to add the new hybrid example to our day-to-day lives and we honestly believe it will be infinitely better when we blend both ingredients together.

To discuss your journey ahead, get on board and drop us a message at Hello@somespark.co.uk