Everything you need to know about hybrid events
What are hybrid events?
The easiest way to understand what hybrid events are is to think about events where in-person and virtual components are included.
Here are two examples of what a hybrid event might look like in the real world:
Some events might occur at a physical location, but they might have a speaker or speakers from different parts of the world speaking or presenting at the event, but they might not be physically present. The hybrid element of this event might be that the speaker or presenter joins the event live from their homes, with attendees watching live from theirs.
Some hybrid events like exhibitions or trade shows might be in-person, with attendees required to interact via a specific app. The app might serve as a networking tool or an interactive map, guiding attendees from point A to B.
How to choose between virtual, in-person, and hybrid events
As this moment is somewhat unpredictable, choosing the format of your event may be dependent on where you are and your event objectives.
Here are some pros and cons of virtual, in-person, and hybrid events.
Check out our infographic on making the right choice between virtual, in-person, and hybrid events.
Internal hybrid events
Internal hybrid events were popular with big companies even before the Coronavirus outbreak. This is due to the company having branches and/or head offices all around the world.
These events have both in-person and virtual event elements, and the intended audience could be employees, stakeholders, partners, and management.
How to host a successful internal hybrid event
As with in-person events, planning and preparation are most important. Many assume that all you need is a stable Wifi connection and a platform that will cater to the number of people expected to attend your hybrid event. Hybrid events require quite a bit of planning and meticulous event management.
Here are a few tips to ensure that your internal hybrid event is a success:
- Create engaging content – many people are already screen-fatigued, and if you are presenting facts and figures virtually, it might be easy for your audience to get distracted. Be sure to include different media types and try to make your event as interactive as possible to keep your audience engaged.
- Ensure an easy flow of registration – Use a platform that has an easy registration process, but that could still be customized so that you can get the information that you need from your attendees.
- Include calendar integration – calendar integrations on invitations or ticket confirmation emails are not only convenient for your attendees, but they could also help the rate of attendance at your event, especially if it is a once-off event.
External hybrid events
External hybrid events are different from internal hybrid events as their intended audiences extend far beyond employees from the organization.
Attendees at external hybrid events are generally people from outside the organization who might share a common interest or have a collective issue that the hybrid event organizer might have the solution to.
Some external hybrid events may be a space for people from similar industries to come together and share their experiences and network.
How to host a successful external hybrid event
Similarly, in the case of planning an internal hybrid event, external hybrid events require thorough planning. With external hybrid events, your goal might be to generate a profit or sell a certain number of tickets. Here are some tips to hosting a successful external hybrid event:
- Have a simple registration process – there are many platforms on the market, each very different from the last. When people are unfamiliar, and a platform is asking for too much information, you might scare people off. Ensure that you don’t complicate the process too much, as this could result in your attendees dropping off along the way.
- Get attendees’ feedback – attendees’ feedback can give you insight into what worked and what didn’t work. As an event planner, you don’t have the firsthand experience of attending the event as an attendee, so feedback on the event can help address your blind spots for upcoming events.
- Data capturing – you might want to get some information about your attendees to re-target them in the future. Make sure that the platform you choose asks your attendees for their permission to do so.
- Choose appropriate content – with internal events, everyone is more likely to be on the same page. External events are a bit different as you need to assume the interests of your attendees. This is why it is essential to create an engaging event while still showcasing your product or service.
- Have a mediator – mediators can be a great way to encourage the interaction of attendees. They can read comments or suggestions or pose questions to speakers, especially if the speakers and attendees are in different spaces. The speaker will focus on their role, while the mediator can manage the interaction between attendees and speakers.
- Separate content – while many events often stream events live with a bit of chat platform for attendees who are joining virtually and call that a hybrid event, event professionals advise against doing that. It creates an atmosphere of making those who may be passive viewers feel like they are missing out and cause them to log out after some time. As virtual attendees already missed the opportunity to be there, give them a little added benefit to make them feel like their time is well spent at your event. You could offer separate panel discussions, Q&A sessions, and virtual networking sessions to get your virtual attendees more engaged.
How to create hybrid events
Hybrid events can be more complicated than in-person or virtual events as these events combine elements of both. With that, the preparation requires specific expertise, so it may be better to have someone in your team to be in charge of the in-person event and another to lead the virtual event section.
If you’ve never created a virtual or hybrid event, here’s an online events management checklist to help you create your first hybrid event.
Here’s what you need to know before the event
- Establish the purpose for your event
- Find out who your ideal event attendee is
- Create content that is relatable to your audience
- Choose a platform that satisfies your needs and the needs of your attendees
- Set a reasonable budget for both the in-person and virtual segments of your event
- Find partners and sponsors that will be able to contribute meaningfully
- Pick a date and time that is most suitable for your event and attendees
- Prepare your attendees to use the chosen platform and, if necessary, have some hands-on deck to assist attendees on the day
- Train or brief your speakers on how to present using the chosen platform
- Market the event well in advance
- Include vital information and necessary resources to create a personalized attendee experience through email engagement
- Make the process of purchasing tickets clear to your attendees and guide them through it every step of the way
Here’s what you need to know on the day of the event
- Virtual event etiquette is vital as many of your attendees might be new to the virtual elements of hybrid events. Be warm and welcoming and let them know that if they need your assistance at the event, you will be there to assist them
- Encourage your attendees to engage with one another and with the speakers. Engagement might be a great metric to measure the success of your hybrid event
- Record your virtual sessions for your attendees to access exclusive on-demand content. If this is a recurring event, it will be a great way to advertise snippets of your guest speakers or headliners for the next event.
Here’s what you need to know after the event
- Capturing the data of your attendees through live analytics can help you measure the success of your event, which could also help in your marketing efforts for your next event
- Follow up with your attendees. Find out what they thought about the platform, the speakers, the content, etc. This feedback can help you make better decisions for your next event. Attendees might appreciate a little “thank you” after the event is over
Event budgeting for hybrid events
As previously mentioned, a budget for hybrid events will need to consist of both the in-person and virtual elements.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to building an event budget:
- Decide what your event objectives are
Ask yourself: is this event designed to educate my attendees about my product? Is its purpose to generate leads? Or is this a networking opportunity for people in the industry?
2. Research industry benchmarks
Some elements of event organizing are easier to decipher, and others may be harder. For this purpose, it may be better to access platforms like Eventland. Eventland is an online community of event professionals who would be able to help you compare prices. It is the type of resource that any event organizer needs to ensure that they are not being overcharged.
3. Share your first draft
Sharing your event budget draft with your team and decision-making executives will mean that you are transparent. This could help you and your team prioritize essential features and elements of your event.
4. Specify the details of your event budget
Once the first draft of your event budget has been approved, you can specify the details. Track the projected cost and the actual cost regularly so that you are in the know about any changes. Make sure you share this information with stakeholders to access this information at any point in the process.
5. Create contingency plans
In the case of budgeting, no one likes surprises. No one. But as we know, things change, and the same goes for the cost of products and services that might be necessary for your hybrid event. A contingency fund of 5-20% of your total budget is advisable by event professionals.
6. Include revenue in your budget
Primary revenue sources should be included in your budget to help you compare the money made from the event and the money spent. Including revenue will also give you a great idea of the projected profit you expect to make from your event.
6. Analyze event ROI
Once the event is over, it is always good to go back to review the budget. By doing so, you will be able to see where you may have overspent, where you could have saved, or how you may have inaccurately predicted certain expenses or overall profits. This practice could help you to evaluate your ROI.
How to market hybrid events
- Distinguish your objectives
Before any planning begins, think about what the objectives are for your hybrid event. Ask yourself, what would make this event successful?
- Develop a strategy
Once you know what the objectives are, think about what metrics you will use to measure the success of your event. For example, if event sign-ups are a metric, think about how you will measure that. Perhaps you will need to sign up to a platform that will give you a live analytics dashboard or other insight into the number of people who submit their information. In some cases, you can ask to have specific analytics tools integrated into your account.
- Identify your target audience
Identifying your target audience will help you know where to find them. Different audiences access different platforms and the way they use them. Let’s say that you are hosting an event for a B2B product or service. You might want to push your efforts into a space where you will most likely find professionals. In this case, consider promoting your hybrid event on a platform that caters to B2B marketing, like LinkedIn. If you are marketing your hybrid event to a young audience, you might want to use a platform like TikTok.
We’ve not only heard it before, but we’ve seen it with our own two eyes – the world we once knew has changed. And the way we experience events is no different.
At this time, companies have become creative and expanded their horizons, looking for new ways to go global when we were all stuck in our homes.
While we’ve managed to understand how things can change in the blink of an eye, hybrid events are the perfect way to navigate this present moment.
Hybrid events can offer events the diversity of bringing people together from all around the world. While many countries are in the process of vaccinating their population, rollouts and restrictions around the globe are moving at various rates.
Hybrid events can bridge the gap between companies, attendees, and speakers regardless of where people might find themselves.
Hybrid events are here to stay
In our opinion, hybrid events are not only for now but the future too. In fact, the hybrid event industry has been on the rise for the past few years, and it will continue to grow well into the future.
Covid-19 made many of us aware of the many possibilities, both positive and negative. The negative is that things could change instantly, but the positives are that technology is on our side, and if we remain adaptable, we will continue to evolve.
While we are all adjusting to life outside again, hybrid events offer us an opportunity to stay safe as we adapt to the new normal.
If you’re hosting a hybrid event, here are three check-in solutions for a safe hybrid event:
- Contactless check-ins like digital passes and QR codes
- Socially distanced facial recognition technology that could enhance security
- Self-service badge printing and NFC bands
The impact of Covid-19 on events
The pandemic entered our lives with a bang, and although there was some irreversible damage that we will see well into the future, there have been some positive impacts left behind too.
Going virtual has been a blessing for many – people with social anxiety and people with differently-abled bodies, to name but a few, have benefitted from this moment. Events and even work have become more accessible as companies and organizations have realized that they could do events that could reach more and more people.
Covid-19 has and will continue to change the future of virtual events, which is only the beginning.
Types of hybrid events
Many companies and organizations use hybrid events for trade shows. Companies who would ordinarily have a ‘stand’ at a trade show could now have a virtual booth. Here attendees can take a peek at what they have on offer and enter and exit these virtual booths as they wish. Trade show hybrid events allow for a wider variety of showcases
The pandemic has truly globalized the world of work, which gave us an extra layer of accessibility. Conferences have benefitted from this added benefit of hybrid events, as attendees no longer needed to be in the same place as the hosted event. The conference’s reach increased across borders, and many conference organizers could book a more diverse group of speakers without being limited by travel.
Companies like Apple and many others in the tech world have used hybrid events for product releases. They can showcase the best parts of their products with the experts running tests and prove to their attendees and potential customers how to use their products. Not only did this simplify the user experience, but by adding a virtual element to product releases, attendees could add to the hype of the product and potentially get their attendees to market their event or product for them.
Examples of hybrid events
Apple has been leading the pack of hybrid events for a while now, and we are not surprised. Apple has used hybrid events to showcase product demos to millions of fans across the world. Featuring experts in the field, their presenters usually present some insight into their products, showcasing features and USPs while producing viral material online.
Online live-streaming service, Twitch, hosts its annual TwitchCon. The event is much sought after, as it features live music on a platform that is streamed on their very own platform. Attendees can log in from anywhere and share the experience without physically being there.
HubSpot’s 3-day conference, Inbound, is a space where professionals, actors, musicians, and entertainers alike come together to learn how to market their business and brand. The event is available on-demand, which is a notably unique feature to use with hybrid events. This means that attendees can watch the event at a later stage, and perhaps if only one member managed to attend the event, attendees could share the material with more people in their team.
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