by John Launius, President Vidzu Media
Seems like all paths concerning live, virtual and hybrid events in St. Louis lead to one man, Sam Foxman. Foxman is the go-to event planner for high-profile organizations in St. Louis and one of the best in the country. Sam is the President and Cofounder of Evntiv, an agency dedicated to creating one-of-a-kind events and celebrations. I caught up with Foxman to discuss how hybrid events will play a role in 2021 and beyond.
John Launius: Your team at Evntiv has been on the leading edge of planning events during the Covid-19 pandemic. Where are we and what are you seeing next?
Sam Foxman: Thank you! Assuming a vaccine will be widely available by March, I predict we will see more hybrid events take place with small audiences (50 people to 300 people) beginning in June 2021. Larger-scale live events will likely return in October 2021. But for now, and well into first quarter of 2021, we are focused on virtual events.
JL: What is a hybrid event?
SF: A hybrid event is a tradeshow, conference, unconference, seminar, workshop, meeting or other event that combines a “live” in-person experience with a “virtual” online component. Essentially, it is the combination of digital and physical worlds.
JL: Will a hybrid event require more equipment and labor?
SF: Hosting a hybrid event is essentially providing two distinct experiences. This will require an added layer of equipment and labor. The degree in cost will depend on how robust the host wants the digital experience to be. This could be as simple as placing a few cameras on set and streaming the program live or as complex as having a separate camera package and crew mixing the program for remote viewers.
JL: What does the run of show look like with a hybrid event?
SF: The biggest shift when creating the run of show will is the elimination of breaks. Once the program begins live (in the room), there are no stopping points. No break for dinner. No desserts – straight through. This will give the most succinct experience for the remote viewer.
JL: Can you sell a “virtual ticket” to those choosing to join from home?
SF: Absolutely. In fact, this is a fantastic way for organizations to widen their base of fans and supporters by offering a lower point of entry. It also gives the attendee the choice of attending in-person or from the safety of their home.
JL You mentioned in another interview the “hub and spoke” model. What is this?
With hybrid events, a “hub and spoke” model refers to how organizations can create a live event to anchor the experience (the hub) and create satellite events for attendees to join in-addition to the live event (spokes). For instance, a couple may host 12 friends at their home to watch a live fundraising gala program (hub) and then urge then to donate. A regional office may gather 20 employees to watch and engage with the hub conference. Individuals may watch from home. The show is live. Some of the attendees are live. Some are joining remotely. This is a true hybrid model.
JL: How much does a hybrid event cost relative to a live event?
SF: I am asked this question many times a week. The cost range will depend on how much the organization wants to invest in their audience joining remotely. It can be as simple as adding $3,000 to an existing audio / visual package and grabbing a high quality streaming source. Or, it can entail spending $30,000+ to create a separate robust experience for those joining remotely.
JL: How long will hybrid events be around?
SF: My team was producing hybrid events long before Covid-19 – especially in the corporate and higher education space. Adding a hybrid layer to a live event is not new. The level of sophistication and creativity has definitely been elevated. I believe hybrid events are going to be around far beyond the Covid-19 pandemic. Adding a hybrid layer to a live event will become standard practice.
About the author.
John Launius is a media and technology executive, and the President of Vidzu Media. He has provided leadership across governmental and educational sectors and has worked in all forms of media during his career. As a designated “Show Me Missouri” Historical Speaker, representing the Missouri Humanities Council and the Missouri State Historical Society, he enjoys research, writing and lecturing about nineteenth- and twentieth-century America. As a public speaker, he enjoys discussing leadership, management and other business-related topics. He is a Hillman Scholar mentor and has engaged with nonprofits and charitable organizations focused on improving the quality of life for others. He has a BA from Webster University and studied at Washington University in St. Louis, DePaul University, and The Second City in Chicago. His new best-selling book, The Life and Times of Missouri’s Charles Parsons: Between Art and War is available where books are sold.
Evntiv is a dynamic team of talented designers and producers dedicated to creating one-of-a-kind live and virtual event experiences. Evntiv offers full-service event planning, virtual / hybrid event strategy, entertainment booking, audio/visual technology, video creation and a suite of graphic and web design services. The Evntiv team has produced award-winning live and virtual events including galas, outdoor festivals, fashion events, grand openings, concerts, awards show, and much more. Our mission is to collaborate with our clients to develop innovative event experiences that connect with their audiences, communicate a message and celebrate their accomplishments.