The Ultimate Guide to Plan a Hybrid Event in 2022
The way businesses host their events has forever changed due to the pandemic and technological advancements.
While virtual events became the new norm during the pandemic, businesses realized the importance of live events due to the ability to collect leads and engage with their audience.
That’s where hybrid events come in. With hybrid events being the perfect blend between live and virtual events, they offer businesses the chance to interact with their audience — even online.
This article will teach you everything you need to know about hybrid events, including what they are, the benefits of hosting these events, and how to plan a successful hybrid event for your business.
What is a hybrid event?
A hybrid event is a mixture of a virtual and a live event. It uses a combination of in-person and digital components that are tailored to the audience to give them the best possible experience.
For these events, you take your live event (that has an audience, content, and venue) and add a virtual component to it so that people can take part live or from the comfort of their own homes.
This means that your virtual audience won’t watch your event on television but rather on their mobile phones or computers, where they can offer feedback and engage in real-time.
There are two different types of hybrid events:
Internal Hybrid Events
Internal events are programs that companies host for their employees, stakeholders, staff, leadership, etc.
Since it won’t always be possible for companies to gather all their internal employees and stakeholders in the same room for meetings, they use hybrid events to guarantee everyone’s presence — whether the person lives locally or internationally.
Companies pick a venue (often its headquarters) and live-stream the meeting to the rest of the company. Examples of common internal hybrid events include:
- Sales kickoffs
- Large meetings
- Year-end functions
- Global town halls
External hybrid events
External hybrid events are targeted at your customers, prospects, clients, etc.
These events are intended to create brand awareness and engagement and promote your company and its offers to people who are likely to do business with you. Examples of common external hybrid events include:
- Product demonstrations
- Trade shows
- Business conferences
What are the benefits of hosting a hybrid event?
There are many advantages to hosting hybrid events. Here’s a list of some of the biggest benefits.
Wider reach and higher attendance
Hybrid events allow you to widen your reach and gain more attendees. That’s because many people have different preferences when it comes to attending events — some prefer attending virtually while others prefer attending live.
According to Statista, in 2021, 57% of B2B marketing professionals worldwide said that they preferred attending live events, while 33% of them said that they preferred virtual events.
Similarly, many consumers and professionals prefer one over the other. By hosting hybrid events, you’re giving your audience a choice — which means that more people will show up.
Reduced travel costs
As remote work becomes more popular, relocation trends show that many people are now moving out of big cities and into towns where the quality of life is better.
This poses a challenge for companies trying to organize in-person events as travel costs are steep. Hybrid events are a great solution since employees and clients can still attend events no matter where they’re located.
Higher level of engagement
Since your virtual audience can talk, like, share, and comment from their desktops and mobile phones, this means that there’s a far higher level of engagement.
With hybrid events, you can have Q&A sessions with both your live and virtual audiences, host polls during sessions, help virtual and live attendees network with each other, and more.
Higher return on investment (ROI)
Hybrid events offer a higher ROI due to increased reach. Since more people are able to attend your event, this often results in higher sign-ups after the event and more sponsorships.
As for scalability, once you have all your technology, software, and equipment set up, it’ll be easy to replicate for future events — which means you’ll be more comfortable hosting even bigger events in the future that can bring in more attendees and conversions.
How to plan a hybrid event in 7 steps
Here are seven steps you can follow to plan a successful hybrid event.
1. Have a clear vision
It’s important to have a clear vision for your event.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Why am I hosting this event in the first place?
- What do I want to achieve?
- Who is the event for?
- What makes this event unique?
- What value will it add to attendees’ lives?
Based on your answers to these questions, you’ll be able to set clear goals and objectives for your event. Remember to set SMART goals that clearly define what you want to achieve, when you want to achieve it, and how you’re going to achieve it.
2. Know your audience inside-out
The most important part of any event is the people who are attending it. Your entire event (the content, marketing strategies, venue, etc.) will be centered around your audience.
That’s why it’s vital for you to figure out exactly who your target audience is. You want to know everything about them, including their needs, behaviors, expectations, and how to get them to attend your event.
The easiest way to determine all these factors is to create a detailed customer persona that outlines everything there is to know about your ideal attendees, including their demographics, psychographics, and cognitive thinking. You can use an ICP template for this purpose.
3. Prepare an event plan
Now that you’ve set clear objectives for your event and you know who your target audience is, you can start creating your event plan.
Your event plan should include things such as:
- Your event type (i.e., single-day event, multiple-day event, etc.)
- Event speaker details (types of speakers you want at your event with a few names of possible speakers. You may want to consider utilizing an agency like Harry Walker to find recognizable names.)
- Time of event (it doesn’t have to be an exact time, but it can just be a rough timeframe)
- Possible venues (list of venues that could work well)
- Tech details (list of possible hybrid tech and software you can use)
Remember to consider the live and online parts of the event when creating your event plan. This plan will help smooth out execution and will prevent massive hurdles along the way.
4. Decide on an event budget
Once you have your event plan, you can start to create a budget for your event. It’s important to include all the high-level items in your budget. Depending on the size of your event, these can include:
- Event technology
- Venue rental
- Stage decoration
- Marketing campaigns
- Branding and signage
- Furniture rentals
Be reasonable with your budget for each item. If you’re unsure how much a specific item costs, do research to see what most businesses are charging for that item or service.
5. Build an event team
Your team will help execute your event plan so that it becomes a full-fledged, high-value event that your target audience will be excited to attend.
You can choose to structure your team according to different factors that are unique to your event. However, an event team should generally consist of the following roles:
- Event manager
- Social media moderator
- Marketing manager
- Venue coordinator
- Stage manager
- Registration/finance manager
- Sponsorship manager
- Technology manager
6. Choose the right venue and virtual event platform
After you’ve created your event team, you can choose the venue you’ll be using and the virtual event platform that suits your event best.
When choosing a venue, it’s important to consider the size of the venue (for the number of live attendees you want to host) and the location and available facilities (such as bathrooms, networking space, and equipment storage).
Similarly, when choosing a virtual event platform, you need to make sure that it has the right features to support your event’s goals, size, and budget.
Discover the 13 best hybrid event platforms you should consider using to host your event.
7. Create event content and marketing materials
The only way for people to know about your event is for you to market it. After planning your entire event, it’s time to start advertising.
You can use several different methods to market your event, including email marketing, social media marketing, promoting speakers/influencers, etc.
Whichever way you choose, you need to create excellent branding for your event that will make your marketing campaigns stand out.
You will need to design an event logo, an event webpage, and marketing materials that reflect the theme of the event. Consider using a professional service like Tailor Brands to help you with all of your event branding materials.
Here are 7 ways you can promote your event to get more attendees.
Start planning your hybrid event
You’ve seen all the benefits that hybrid events offer your business. Not only does it give you the chance to engage with your entire audience — both virtual and live attendees — but it also gives you a much wider reach and higher ROI.
Want to give your attendees the best experience possible all the way from registration to attendance? Learn how to create a seamless attendee journey.
Guest Author Bio:
Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in influencer marketing, content marketing, and SEO. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Content Solutions, a digital marketing agency. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.