This just in:

93% of planners who organized a hybrid event say it met or exceeded their objectives, and 70% of planners say hybrid meetings will be an important part of the events industry in the future.

This is the crux of new research by MPI Foundation and sponsored by Sonic Foundry Mediasite Events. The groundbreaking study on hybrid events – a meeting or event with at least one group of face-to-face participants connecting with other participants in one or more additional locations -- was released this week and is the most comprehensive picture ever created.

It’s a roadmap showing the practices, strategies and emerging trends that will impact the skill set of meeting professionals in the future. The full research report gives you a comprehensive look at the way hybrid events are currently used, how they are perceived within the meetings industry and insights and guidance from experienced hybrid event planners. It also covers lessons learned from professionals and a how to guide for understanding hybrid event formats, selecting technology vendors, building an effective hybrid event team, designing content and developing an engaging user experience.

The research team conducted nearly 40 interviews with meeting planners, technology vendors and consultants, and the quantitative survey was completed by 1,800 participants, including meeting planners, attendees, technology vendors and consultants.

A few key points:

  • Meeting professionals are using hybrid meetings to share content, ideas and experiences with attendees across multiple geographies and time zones. On-demand content was important because attendees may not be able to participate at the exact moment that the meeting is happening.
  • The fear of technology failure and the potential for cannibalization of the face-to-face meeting are two concerns often cited by those opposed to hybrid meetings. The concerns around cannibalization appear to be largely unsubstantiated. On the contrary, the data suggested that face-to-face attendance increased or remained flat.
  • Hybrid meetings are still an emerging meeting format. Data showed that most meeting planners did not have experience using hybrid events but 70 percent of respondents felt that hybrid meetings would be an important part of the future of meetings.
  • Attendees seem to be looking for formats more reminiscent of television shows than the lecture-style experiences usually produced for remote attendees.

For more information on our partnership with MPI, read our press releases Sonic Foundry, MPI Foundation Unveil New Tools to Help Planners Understand the Value of Hybrid and Sonic Foundry and Meeting Professionals International Foundation Partner on First Comprehensive Research on Hybrid Events.

You can also visit MPI’s special knowledge center at www.mpiweb.org/hybrid which features the full report and toolkit (free to MPI members and available for purchase for non-members).

Last month, researcher Samuel J. Smith discussed hybrid events during MPI’s World Education Congress in St. Louis, Mo. You can watch his presentation “Meeting Pros are from Mars, Attendees are from Venus; Techniques for Creating a Remarkable Hybrid Event,” which was webcast via Mediasite, on-demand at www.mpiweb.org/events/wec2012/hybridevent.