A colleague of mine Ike Singh sparked an interesting discussion with his post on "10 Things I Won't Miss About In-Person Events". Being one who could ship an elephant from Dallas to Alaska (and then also find the trainer a pair of red hot pants 2 hours before the show), I enjoyed this post immensely.
80% of the events Creative Maven works on are in person without a virtual component (meaning where attendees have an avatar and go into the virtual world of the event). All events have an "online" or "app" component these days, that has not changed and is the standard.
Quality vs Quantity: That said I have seen the type and number of attendees change at events. Whereas in the past a company's entire team would attend (those who should be there (decision makers or sales people), those who are newbies being thrown in the frying pan and the exec/sales boondoggle for a job well done), as of late that number has been cut to (those who should be there and maybe a newbie to help set up the booth or handle their exec). So there is a trend of attendee quality over quantity it seems these days.
Enter the PRIUS: With that in mind, I believe the true dawn of the Hybrid event is upon us. For the quantity part of the attendee equation and continued comfortably of the general public with mobile apps, gaming avatars and gaming on Facebook - more and more people are embracing the "V" in virtual. These virtual attendees benefit by actually reviewing the content of sessions and collateral posted by exhibitors. Many times the content is the piece that doesn't trickle down to someone who stayed back the office. Now it can.
Butts in Seats: As theater producer back in the day I hoped for high artistic quality and BIS. Producing theater is tough enough, you must have an audience.... Same thing for events. Producers these days are working like mad to entice attendees and sponsors to pay, participate and attend. In this or any economy, the ROI has to be there for attendees. Events are expensive to produce and I do think the virtual "seat" is going to become an interesting commodity as it is sellable and quantitatively more trackable. Thus ROI-showable.
Love to hear about events that you are attending or producing - are they mostly in-person/online or hybrid and thoughts you have about them. Feel free to have the discussion on Ike's post.
Ah, first day of the work week in 2011. Welcome back y'all!