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5 Ways To Solve Hybrid Experience Design

Pre-pandemic reports predicted a surge in experiential marketing. Consumers craved experiences meant to educate, entertain and engage. However, as 2020 continued, virtual events forced the industry into a blended reality.

Adopting a hybrid approach means developing intelligent solutions that honor the best of both disciplines, bridging the gap between physical and digital by removing points of friction. Here’s how:

Go beyond safe space to design healing space. The traumas of 2020 won’t be remedied just by increasing safety protocols. The baseline for event safety will change with vaccinations, testing, temperature checks, increased sanitation, protective equipment and physical distancing. However, with over 40% of Americans reporting anxiety and mental health concerns according to the CDC, the real challenge will be putting attendees at ease.

Physical and virtual gatherings must uplift participants with thoughtfulness and inclusivity.

Add value.  Since the majority (74%) of event marketers do not charge for virtual events, according to research from EventMB, business models are shifting.

When we commercialize big data, we have the advantage of economies of scale, control over strategy and greater revenue potential. Timely surveys, interactive games and data-centric interactions allow brands to collect real-time audience insights and craft a precise personalized user journey.

Marketers will use VR to immerse attendees, AR to unlock playful layers and touchless tech to safely navigate a space. Gesture-based sensors, wearables, beacons and voice-activated elements are technologies that will empower attendees to safely interact with their surroundings.

Use technology to share human-centric stories. Lockdown limits human interaction and stunts our ability to form new episodic memories. Therefore, understanding how storytelling empowers us to make new memories is essential.

Content is still king. Promotional and brand videos are the most common content created by marketers, and while many are thriving by sharing moving stories fostering human connection, there is room for virtual innovation. Holograms simulate conversation across locations, POV cameras give new perspectives, extended reality (XR) LED sets enable mind-bending stage designs, and tools like Together Mode allow virtual crowds.

Embrace that we are social creatures. Research shows that higher introversion is associated with increased loneliness, depression and anxiety, proving everyone needs stimuli and human connection.

Face-to-face, virtual-to-virtual and face-to-virtual connections are all hybrid experiential realities. AI-fueled networking will match people based on common interests, regionality or other data points and connect us across uncrossed thresholds. Additionally, IDC has found that 50% of attendees at virtual events engage using social media, compared to 16% at in-person events, allowing brands to connect to a broader audience.

Take leaps of faith based on desired emotional outcomes. What feelings should be synonymous with a brand’s mission? Can you evoke hope, altruism, kinship, strength or even anger that leads to activism? Have you presented something provocative enough to make people think or act?

This will fuel growth in 2021. In fact, according to research from McKinsey Digital, 72% of companies who reported organic growth of 25%+ over the last three years were the first in their industry to experiment with technologies during the pandemic.

The true value of a frictionless, hybrid experience rests in its ability to celebrate and uplift the human spirit.

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