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Tamsyn Barker Shares Insights On Hybrid Experiences At Evolve: Homecoming 2021

Tamsyn Barker, Managing Director – APAC, FIRST, joined a panel discussion and Q&A for the 15,000-strong global community of event planners at Evolve: Homecoming. The two-day virtual meet-up was the third instalment of Swapcard’s Evolve series and saw Tamsyn share her unique experience and expert insights on the future of events in Asia and successful hybrid brand experiences.

What were the biggest challenges with the transition to hybrid and what have you learnt?

“The vital point we’ve learnt is how best to understand the way we deliver content and engage with the attendee, devising the solution that is most appropriate and relevant for that particular audience – because it’s not always the same. The definition and delivery of hybrid can vary, depending upon the situation, the client or the audience.”

“One of the biggest issues is understanding the value and the restrictions of the supply chain. We need to be absolutely certain that the venues and partners we’re working with are equipped to respond in the way we expect – and that our clients expect. What’s paramount is making sure that your expectations are clear from the outset.

That also relates to budgets – there were certain benefits, as we moved into virtual, around the costs of doing a virtual event, because obviously you don’t have people travelling, you don’t have people in the room, nor F&B components. But actually, hybrid is a different matter, yet again.

There is still a lack of understanding around what it takes to produce a hybrid program and from a planner or agency’s perspective, we require two teams – a team to manage the in-person component and a team managing the virtual component. In pre-planning, these teams can cross over. In the execution, however, that’s probably not going to be possible. So, from a planning standpoint, your investment in your agency or your partner can be higher than expected.”

What are your top tips for event planners executing hybrid events?

“It’s important to focus on the key objective of the message you and your client are trying to deliver – identifying the most efficient solution to deliver that, because it doesn’t necessarily mean putting an in-person and a virtual audience together.

Hyper personalisation is key, as well – matters such as timezones or different channels where people are digesting content, whether that’s in a room or online. It’s important to be conscious of how the audience is digesting that and how best to resonate with them.

What I love about the new world currently developing is that it’s never going away – the evolution is centred upon how we’re engaging and how we’re delivering content in the most meaningful manner possible. There are ESG benefits and technology advancements supporting that every day. We need to embrace these changes and be mindful of them as we look to devise and strategise these programs.”

Are you going to maintain your hybrid strategy once we can all return to in-person?

“This new way of delivering events is actually what I think the industry needed, in terms of a wake-up call and the ability to go beyond putting people on planes and sending them around the world to engage and experience. There are different ways of achieving these objectives.

There is no going back from here, which I think is wonderful! There is only an enhanced journey that we can all take, in terms of how we do it better – how we personalise, how we deliver content and how we establish and grow that engagement.”

Get in touch to learn more about how FIRST can help you deliver creative and engaging virtual and hybrid brand experiences.