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The National Speakers Association (NSA) took its annual meeting, Perform 2014, into the hybrid world earlier this year. The result stunned NSA and its technology vendor Digitell, Inc.

NSA decided to go hybrid less than two weeks before Perform 2014 opened in San Diego, says Digitell President James Parker. Digitell designed a 10-day countdown campaign to publicize the virtual program. The online campaign targeted allied audiences such as MPI, PCMA, Toastmasters and similar organizations in Europe.

On opening day, Perform had 1,200 physical and 600 virtual attendees. When the program closed, attendance stood at 1,200 physical and 1,200 virtual.

“Those virtual attendees were people who had never before attended an NSA event,” Parker says. “Experience suggests that NSA will have a 30 percent boost in physical attendance at its 2015 meeting from virtual attendees who were so excited that they will pay to experience the physical event. Going hybrid was one of the most successful opportunities for marketing the association has encountered.

Carolyn Clark, PCMA’s vice president for marketing and communications, says NSA’s 100 percent jump in attendance with its first hybrid event outshines PCMA’s experiences with virtual and physical registration.

“Hybrid is where the growth opportunity is,” she says. “If you are not getting into a hybrid space now, you will be left behind.”