Hybrid events are the perfect solution for companies and organizations who want to incorporate traditional in-person events with the convenience of virtual events. For years the event industry has been rethinking how to reach a wider audience while also maintaining the personal connections that develop in physical in-person events, and hybrid events are quickly becoming the preferred event type among planners.
Hybrid events offer both virtual and live components so attendees can engage with information at their convenience. Let’s dive in and learn more about why hybrid events are important and 7 tips you can use today to plan your next successful event.
Why Your Next Event Should Be Hybrid
Even before the pandemic, hybrid events were growing in popularity. There are several benefits to choosing a hybrid model for your next event:
Access To A Wider Audience: Virtual components eliminate financial barriers and scheduling conflicts that prohibit potential attendees from accessing your face-to-face events.
Gather Better Data: With a virtual event, everything is tracked from attendance to engagement, allowing you to hone in on key elements of your hybrid event.
Improve The Event’s ROI: More attendees and lower marketing costs lead to a higher ROI.
Hybrid is a great choice if you can safely hold a physical event, and the content translates well to an online audience.
That’s the key: a hybrid event is only successful if there is an emphasis on engagement. Otherwise, it would be no different than streaming a Youtube video during dinner.
Once you have decided on planning a hybrid event, you’ll want to hit the ground running.
Coordinating a hybrid event is new territory for many event planners, so use the following 7 tips to make sure you are on the right track.
Suggested reading: 12 Reasons Why Hybrid Events are Here to Stay.
1. Make In-Person Safety Your Top Priority
Your live component will be a bust if you don’t ensure the safety of your in-person attendees. If they don’t feel safe, they will have a negative event experience.
Don’t wait for your attendees to arrive at your venue before communicating the event’s safety protocols. Reassure your in-person attendees in your marketing emails and social media posts that the event’s safety plan is well thought out.
Inform attendees about expectations and procedures for:
Cleaning Before And During The Event
Social Distancing Rules
Available Staff To Ensure Safety
You can easily incorporate this information in all emails, social media posts, and hybrid event landing pages on your site. Not only will this information help build confidence among guests, but it will also help attendees determine whether they should attend virtually or in-person.
2. Create Custom Registration Paths
You want to make your attendees feel special at each step of the event, and customization makes event attendees feel special regardless of how they engage with your corporate events.
Allow for customization for the in-person experience and virtual experiences so that it’s entirely relevant for both types of attendees.
Your event platform should offer both registration types on your event landing page and event app, allowing you to track data on both groups easily.
3. Plan Engaging Virtual Content First
Because your hybrid event needs to be virtual forward, take the time to ensure all of your planned content is engaging for a virtual audience and backward engineer it to engage a live audience. This could translate to different session lengths, live streams vs. pre-recorded sessions, and live polls.
Just because most of the content will be the same doesn’t mean every piece of content needs to be identical for live and virtual attendees.
For example, watching a live-streamed networking session will not hold the attention span of your online audience. Instead, offer them a virtual-only breakout session or exclusive virtual-only panel discussion with thought leaders, who can attend virtually as well.
4. Secure Sponsorships
Sponsors love hybrid events. Because they drive a much larger audience, sponsors will get double the exposure with a hybrid event than an in-person event. You can attract sponsors by offering the following opportunities:
Having Them Host Or Sponsor A Session
Placing Their Logo Strategically
Using Mobile App Banner Ads
Having Them Run Physical And Virtual Sponsor Booths
Airing Commercials Before OnDemand Content
Hybrid events also create new and exciting opportunities for lead generation and brand recognition. The more value your event can offer to a sponsor, the more funding they will provide, which improves your ROIs.
Suggested Reading: Guarantee ROI for your Event Sponsors & Exhibitors.
5. Have An Onsite, Dedicated Emcee For Virtual Attendees
Your in-person audience will have someone guiding them throughout the event, so offer that same accommodation to your virtual participants.
On your virtual event platform, have the virtual emcee tell online attendees what is up next and describe what is happening in real-time at the live event.
The moderator can highlight specific sessions, remind attendees to stop by a virtual sponsor booth, or interact with virtual attendees through a live public chat. This will enhance the event experience for virtual attendees and increase engagement.
6. Offer Content OnDemand For A Limited Time
OnDemand content offers the best of both worlds: you are helping virtual attendees, giving sponsors more exposure, and allowing your brand/event to stay on the minds of your attendees for longer.
The virtual component of your event can be attended by anyone globally, which means time zones may impact live accessibility.
Post content catalogs and media libraries filled with PDFs, webinars, keynote and exhibitor recordings, and PowerPoints in a place where both in-person attendees and virtual participants can easily access.
By posting your content to your event page on-demand, you allow onsite event attendees to access the information post-event.
It also gives virtual attendees a break from long sessions sitting in an office chair without missing important information.
Remember that excitement will naturally die over time, so only offer the content for a limited time. 1-2 weeks gives attendees time to consume content and drives immediate action to finish before the end date.
7. Line Up Your Plan B….And Plan C
Much like when planning a live event, brainstorm all possible issues that could interrupt the flow of your event. Ask yourself what you would do in the following scenarios:
Live Venue Closures
Virtual Platform Tech Issues
Keynote Or Presenter Cancellations
Having a plan for when things go wrong will ease the stress of planning your hybrid event. It helps to have a dedicated virtual event platform support staff on hand to take the pressure off and allow you to focus on other aspects of your hybrid event.
Plan A Successful Hybrid Event Now
The hybrid event format not only offers event attendees a choice on how they will access your event but promises more inclusive, sustainable, and profitable practices for event planners.
When live streaming content to a virtual audience while ensuring the safety of an in-person experience, hybrid events are the newest tool in the professional event marketers’ toolbox that will guarantee your next virtual conference's success.