Is my supermarket hybrid?



After a moment of deep, forced transformation that has hit the events industry, we’re all experiencing a new adaptation phase where it seems that there’s an obligation to catalog events with one of three labels: virtual, hybrid or in-person.

This urge affects the sector to such an extent that service providers themselves - of which I’m a part - were compelled to differentiate their offers into these three pillars, which is curious nonetheless.

As an event technology provider that supports virtual, hybrid, and in-person events, I often get the feeling that the emergence to digitally transform the events industry is putting the choice of the right platform and technology ahead of the actual purpose of each event. When, in my opinion, it should be just the opposite.

Event technology exists to meet the goals of each event and not to be its centerpiece - with a few exceptions, of course. And I think this adjustment in the perception of all of us may be essential when it comes to transforming the industry.

Let’s think about the digital transformation processes that have already happened in other industries, such as media, trading or finance. In any of these cases, despite the different motivations, each sector has undergone such significant adaptation processes that, today and in most cases, the surviving players already serve their customers through multichannel infrastructures that include both face-to-face and digital backing services (are our banks and insurance companies “hybrid” players?).

Continuing with the same line of reasoning, these industries serve their different audiences by creating channel-targeted content, depending on where the product will be consumed. Those who are successful, do so by seeking to adapt and deliver their value in a way that is consistent with the channel.

In a realistic sense, when we go to a supermarket we always find items distributed on shelves and, when accessing the respective e-commerce site, we’re offered a more customized, fast and tailored experience to online consumption. The company’s goal will always be to convert visitors into consumers, regardless of the channel.

Going back to our people-centric industry, where establishing connections and exchanging impressions are our pot of gold, this may mean that serving distributed audiences (as attractive as it may be) also implies assuming that there’s a need to develop adapted content, in the clear awareness that mixed audiences will have a completely different demand and behavior depending on the channel where they’re going to experience the event. If only for the fact that remote audiences are always going to run into an event in a completely different environment and outside the usual control offered by a venue.

Let’s rather think about digital events, with distributed audiences (in-person and remote), served by different communication channels where each one should have a distinct strategy and production plan. I also reinforce that, from my standpoint, the existence of different audiences with different preferences on how they consume content has always been a reality - whether or not the limitations imposed by the pandemic have arisen.

I thus challenge us to put an end to “labels”. And I also make a motion for us to embrace this incredible challenge of exploiting technology to meet the goals of each event. It’s time to make our audiences bigger, to reach different individuals through their preferred channels and to carry out safety for face-to-face audiences, always supported by digital channels. Now with the great advantage of acting in a highly competitive market, which favors the adoption of technology without major budgetary impacts.

Let’s get back to focusing on generating revenue with our events, and let’s naturally take on board the evidence that serving remote audiences is different from serving in-person ones (even though we may be talking about the exact same person).

Technology, as a piece of the complex puzzle of an event, will surely play its part in a territory where face-to-face and adapted experience delivery must continue to take center stage.

© Sérgio Pinto Opinion

Cofounder beamian