The future of events is hybrid.
As a post-pandemic world comes into view, physical events are set to make a comeback. However, these will not be the in-person gatherings of the past.
Instead, in-person events will take on online elements to create altogether new, immersive experiences that reach and engage much larger, geographically distributed audiences.
You can catch a glimpse of that future on June 14-16, at the CogX Global Leadership Summit and Festival of AI and Transformational Technology, the world’s largest-ever hybrid event.
The Festival will take place simultaneously at Kings Cross, London, and on Hopin—and is anticipated to attract more than 100,000 participants from around the globe.
In this article, we preview how CogX and Hopin are partnering to produce a large-scale hybrid event that offers onsite and online attendees a valuable, engaging experience.
What is the CogX Festival?
Every year, CogX hosts one of the world’s largest technology conferences, which focuses on the impact of AI on society and business.
The CogX Festival brings together some of the brightest minds—from industry, government, academia, culture, and entertainment—for a wide-ranging program that seeks to challenge the status quo and shape innovation.
Past speakers have included John Kerry, former U.S. Secretary of State; Samantha Power, former U.S Ambassador to the UN; Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London; Shoshana Zuboff, author and online privacy expert; and Tony Fadell, inventor of the iPod.
Last year, in the depth of the pandemic, CogX transitioned to a fully virtual event, hosting 324 hours of simultaneous programming on 18 separate virtual stages—and drawing 44,000 online attendees.
This year, CogX and Hopin are partnering to reimagine the summit as a hybrid experience—providing both onsite and online experiences for an audience of 100,000+ attendees.
More than 1,000 speakers—including prominent celebrities and authors, as well as leaders and thinkers from the European Commission, MIT, Amazon, BBC, British Airways, and Coursera—will join 350+ exhibitors for an event exploring the question: "How do we get the next 10 years right?"
How CogX is going hybrid
Hybrid events bring together in-person and online elements—in a way that unlocks an open flow of ideas and information between all participants.
The advantages of a hybrid approach are manifold: expanded event scale, greater inclusivity, better ROI, additional sponsor and exhibitor opportunities, and more.
Realizing those advantages, however, requires excellent strategy—which is all the more difficult because, as the world is only now embarking on hybrid, there are few examples of successful large-scale hybrid events from which to learn.
Here is how CogX and Hopin are combining the best of virtual events and in-person gatherings to create an innovative hybrid conference.
A wide array of content across physical and virtual stages
This year’s CogX Festival will deliver content across three physical stages on the ground in London and 15 virtual stages hosted on Hopin.
Featured speakers will include:
- Matthew McConaughey, Actor
- Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner for Competition & EVP A Europe Fit for the Digital Age, European Commission
- June Sarpong, Director of Creativity, BBC
- Daphne Koller, CEO & Founder, insistro; Co-Founder, Coursera
- Sean Doyle, CEO, British Airways
- Martha Lane Fox, Philanthropist
- Werner Vogels, VP & CTO, Amazon
In-person attendees will be able to join physical sessions as they normally would—and will be able to use a mobile app to book seats.
For virtual sessions, CogX will set up cinema-style rooms where in-person attendees will be able to watch live presentations by speakers participating remotely.
Online attendees will join via the Hopin event platform, where they will be able to browse all 18 stages and watch live sessions from online and onsite speakers.
The goal is to create a unified event experience for all attendees—in-person and remote—such that neither group is subordinate or missing out on valuable content.
The ability to consume content is one-half of that equation; audience participation and engagement is the other half.
Real-time audience engagement and interactive sessions
Immediately after a speaker’s stage event, CogX will host “Meet the Speaker” Q&A sessions on the Hopin event platform.
All attendees—virtual and in-person—will be able to participate in these video sessions, ask questions via chat, and even join the video live stream to meet speakers face-to-face and ask questions over video.
The Festival will also include 350 virtual exhibitor booths in an online expo area, hosted on the event platform. All participants will be able to explore the booths, watch live company presentations, even start text or video chats (depending on the exhibitor).
Similarly, all attendees will be able to join interactive virtual side events, where they can participate in live conversations via video and chat on specific topics and themes.
1-on-1 networking for in-person and virtual attendees
An essential part of events is the ability for participants to meet and make connections. This applies whether an event is in-person, virtual, or hybrid.
For this year’s festival, CogX will enable all attendees (depending on Festival pass type) to connect and communicate with each other. That means providing a way for:
- Online attendees to sync with other online attendees
- Online attendees to reach out to in-person attendees, and vice versa
- In-person attendees to find and connect with other in-person attendees, either live or via the online event platform
In other words, regardless of location, attendees can take part in the satisfying ritual of meeting new people at an event.
How? Through video calls and direct messaging on the Hopin event platform, where attendees can network 1-on-1 with other attendees or set up small group chats.
Crucially, these tools will be available to both online and in-person attendees—again, with the aim of creating a unified experience for all—such that participants can form connections with peers from across the world.
In-person and online opportunities for sponsors and partners
Opening up an online channel for attendee participation also creates new opportunities for sponsors and partners.
Whereas space in a physical event venue is limited, a virtual environment allows for many more sponsors and partners to participate—even when they are unable to travel to a physical destination.
At the CogX Festival, exhibitors can choose between virtual and hybrid sponsorship packages. In addition to traditional onsite branding and booths, organizers will be able to set up virtual booths within the online event platform.
(CogX is even offering a limited number of select sponsors a free virtual expo booth. They just need to apply and get accepted.)
As in-person and online attendees explore the virtual event environment, they can browse virtual booths in the expo area. The massive scale of hybrid events can dramatically increase the visibility of exhibitors.
As part of premium plans, CogX will also provide exhibitors advanced placement and branding options, the ability to arrange 1-on-1 video calls with attendees, and/or the ability to host side events.
Claim a Festival pass
The CogX Festival will provide an early opportunity to experience a hybrid event in action and find insights and inspiration for your own event strategy.
Hybrid is not just a makeshift solution in a pandemic era—but rather represents the direction in which events are headed.
By combining the best of both worlds—the human connection and engagement power of in-person and the scale and inclusivity of virtual events—organizations and event professionals can alchemize unprecedented value.
Learn more about the CogX Festival and purchase a virtual or hybrid ticket on the CogX website.