The life sciences industry has always heavily relied on events to foster meaningful interactions between healthcare stakeholders. In fact, according to the Forrester report: “Hybrid Events Generate Demand and Deepen Relationships: A Spotlight on Pharmaceutical Companies,” 72% of pharmaceutical marketers find events to be the best way to educate and nurture deep relationships with customers.
The pandemic has further positioned events as an effective engagement tool across the product lifecycle. However, the decline in traditional office access and changing preferences owing to safety concerns have changed the way events are organized. As a result, the life sciences event management space has evolved around and is being driven by an increasing number of digitally native healthcare providers.
However, this shift in business paradigm has failed to alleviate the struggle that life sciences organizations must overcome to ensure seamless event experiences. In this new landscape, events are often punctuated by notifications such as:
- “We apologize that due to unavoidable last-minute obligations and time constraints, the keynote speaker for the event cannot join us today.”
- “My Wi-Fi has been slow today. I was invited to this insightful life sciences event that I would have loved to attend.”
These are just a few examples of why event technology is important and multifaceted. Though virtual conferences have become popular, physical events continue to be a core piece of an integrated event strategy. Future pharmaceutical events must integrate the best aspects of in-person and virtual experiences to create a hybrid event experience for attendees and partners alike.
But there’s a catch. While 63% of organizations plan to host hybrid events in the future, the industry still lacks a communication model that can balance the perks of offline and online events. Technology can be an able ally in this pursuit, whether it is to increase efficiencies, create desired outcomes, or handle the changing business scopes and objectives.
A Look at the Pandemic Imperative
With the pandemic wreaking havoc across the globe, restricting people to their homes and deeply impacting business operations, virtual meetings became an absolute necessity. Not to mention the stringent government regulations and compliances that further hindered offline events. Consequently, life sciences organizations that already put safety at the forefront took greater care to hold safer events. New paradigms emerged for communication. Virtualized audio-visual methods gained greater importance in events such as meetings, conferences, presentations, seminars, and public speeches. But this was when we were all still attending these events remotely. The question now: should life sciences organizations continue hosting the newly adopted virtual events or revert to holding physical events?
The best way to answer this question is to take a step back and look at how events have been handled in this industry. Pre-pandemic, 59% of the virtual events that were prevalent in the pharmaceutical industry were webinars or training sessions. It is not surprising that most of the virtual event organizers are lacking the tools, methodologies, and right partners to deliver on the promise of virtual events. This was impeding their ability to deliver engaging virtual events with greater reach and leverage data insights for higher business leads and growth.
This makes hybrid events a business imperative for life sciences organizations. Hybrid events technology combines virtual and physical elements of interaction to ensure holistic and seamless communication, which in turn leads to the achievement of business objectives.
The Key Elements of Hybrid Event Technology
While hybrid events are conducted in a physical location with or without in-person attendees, participants can join the event from across multiple locations and on devices of their choice. The attendees may or may not need to mix and collaborate, but if so, the event organizers must optimize the hybrid event platform to ensure communication among the attendees and the speakers/presenters. It should also be considered that as the content is being consumed in real-time, the event experience must be seamless and cater to the various engagement drivers of the attendees.
This makes event design a critical component. Life sciences organizations must take the right approach depending on their strengths, limitations, and objectives. To consider a few examples, with the advent of virtual events, the world witnessed how Facebook Live or YouTube emphasized viewership and one-way communication. That way, live or pre-recorded content was offered to viewers with a limited scope of communication through comments. However, as hybrid events caught pace, they demanded a more immersive experience for the attendees, making two-way communication essential. So, the focus shifted to optimizing the experiences of in-person and virtual attendees as well as the achievement of the organizers’ goals.
We now understand that the existing digital solutions leveraged by the life sciences industry may no longer be as effective as they were a few months back. To conduct successful hybrid events, they need to focus on fully utilizing technological innovations and meeting the specific needs of all involved.
Hybrid Events Have Distinct Advantages Over In-person and Virtual-only Events
Almost 86% of B2B organizations confirm a positive ROI on their hybrid events within seven months. Life sciences companies are no different in this regard. Virtual events attract a greater number of attendees than physical events, as they allow people across geographies and time zones to join these events and deliver a differentiated HCP experience.
With the right understanding of the platform and business goals, organizations can combine the attendance numbers of in-person events and virtual-only events to reach a number that is exponentially higher than the two individually added together. This means a possible 6x increase in lead generation.
Apart from higher reach, a single point of data consolidation and management is another key benefit that hybrid events offer to the life science industry, as agreed by 72% of the organizations. Hybrid events technology can be leveraged to manage and track data of participants, event spends, venue, and audience preferences for meaningful business insights. Additionally, hybrid events technology empowers stakeholders of life sciences companies with better orchestration and control over event goals, irrespective of the size of the event. The event costs are reduced, and the prospect of getting sponsorships is higher. As the outreach grows, the marketing opportunities also increase. Finally, hybrid events reduce the impact on the environment considerably by negating the carbon emissions caused by the footfall of in-person events.
How to Hybrid: The Six Pillars of Hybrid Events Technology
For a company in the life sciences industry, planning hybrid events can be a subjective process. There is, however, a checklist to consider. Here are six important considerations for organizers in the life sciences space to successfully conduct hybrid events:
- Market: To be successful, a hybrid event must cater to two different audience groups – those who prefer an in-person experience and those who prefer online participation. Implementing an effective hybrid event marketing strategy begins by recognizing the differences in these audiences in terms of expectations and behaviors. Based on this understanding, HCPs can then tailor marketing strategies to offer the best experience to attendees and effectively promote their brands.
- Venue: Hybrid events require extensive planning when it comes to finding a venue that can enhance the on-site as well as virtual event experience. To begin with, organizations must take into account the safety considerations, local protocols, space layout, and location of the event venue to offer the best experience to in-person attendees. Likewise, they must also carefully ensure that the venue offers the required audiovisual, digital, and networking infrastructures to optimize the online experience.
- Content: Hybrid events must be planned around the needs of two distinct audiences, each with unique requirements. Thus, it is crucial for organizers to seamlessly integrate these two audience groups by using a shared content approach. To accomplish this, content and technology must align with each other. Care must also be taken to encourage audience participation with personalized and interactive content. This can deliver an engaging experience and maximum impact.
- Community: Everything from drafting the marketing strategy to selecting the venue and finalizing the content should be aimed at fostering an organic connection among the attendees. Having two distinctive audience groups should not in any way negatively impact their experiences. Designing immersive events with interactive and intuitive elements and the best-suited hybrid format is thus the key.
- Sponsors and exhibitors: Diversifying sponsor and exhibitor packages with regular content audits and a digital-first plan should always be a part of every hybrid event strategy. Similarly, emphasis should be focused on enhancing brand awareness and lead generation with a perfect balance of offline-online marketing tools.
- Insights: Combining in-person and virtual insights to extract the most from the data available can help organizations in deeply understanding their audience. With such insightful analysis and standard reports, the organizers can efficiently manage lead generation, assess impact, and maintain attendee loyalty.
Execute Engaging Hybrid Events with Cvent
While hybrid events offer new opportunities and benefits for the life sciences industry, much depends on the successful execution of these events. Although the six pillars outlined here play a crucial role, following them requires extensive planning, resources, and effort. This is where Cvent can help.
- Providing a safe experience with contactless tech and space diagramming tools
- Understanding their audience by using actionable insights in real-time
- Using the best-suited hybrid format to create and deliver compelling experiences for HCPs
- Driving efficiency with regular content audits and digital-first plans
For more details on hybrid events and how Cvent can help, contact us today.