Everything You Need To Know About Hybrid Events

Everything You Need To Know About Hybrid Events

Technology played a huge role at the height of the global pandemic. Corporations and organisations changed how they planned events. Cancelled events caused the event planning industry to take a massive hit if they couldn't transform.

The shift to virtual events soon became the norm. The use of video conferencing tools and a bit of creativity helped planners save events and the industry.

Globally, events are beginning to return to normal. However, due to the success of virtual events, the shift is now towards hybrid events. These events target both virtual and in-person audiences.

Not only have companies successfully transitioned back into in-person events, but virtual audiences also remain strong. Participants love having choices.

Are you planning an event and wanting to target a bigger audience? Hosting a hybrid event is the way to go. Read about how these events work and their benefits in this detailed guide.

What are Hybrid Events?

Hybrid events recognise the importance of offering options to a global audience. Today, travel restrictions are relaxing around the world. However, there's no universal protocol.

The demand for virtual events changed online conferencing. Innovations in video production and event planning apps with cutting-edge features made hybrid events popular.

In its simplest form, hybrid events are where virtual events and in-person events form a marriage. Instead of competing ideas, event planners merge the two concepts to create exciting experiences for event-goers.

The fear of participants not wanting to return to in-person events has proven to be a false alarm. Instead, the shift has moved towards creating unique experiences for both audiences.

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Planning Successful Hybrid Events

Whether an event is online or in person, you must offer something that benefits the attendees. Although virtual attendees are not in the building, they still receive a similar experience. Event planners have an advantage with hybrid events because virtual audiences don't have to attend in real-time.

The option of pre-recorded events is critical when considering changes in time zones. The experience can still mirror a live event when you incorporate interactive tools that we'll discuss later in the article.

Hybrid events allow access to online portals. The virtual attendees can view conferences, demonstrations, and performances, in real-time or via video playbacks. The feature also expands to in-person audiences.

Today, instead of having to choose between competing seminars, in-person attendees have online access to recorded sessions. Plus, introducing interactive activities such as networking opportunities with the in-person audiences brings the two together.

Understand the Difference Between Hybrid, Virtual, and In-Person Events

Although hybrid events combine virtual and in-person experiences, vital elements bring the two together. How event planners present the event is how the audience will perceive the event. To plan successful hybrid events, have clear objectives.

Don't Downplay the Event

Video on demand - When you are marketing a hybrid event by offering video on demand, it downplays the event. Video on demand assumes that participating during the live event isn't essential to the overall experience.

You want the online audience just as excited as the in-person attendees.

Streaming Service - Pay close attention to how you market a hybrid virtual event. Streaming capabilities are vital to the success of the event. However, you don't want to downplay the importance of streaming.

For example, many modern phones allow users to stream programming from their phones. There's no doubt streaming is convenient for watching favourite shows. However, you don't want people streaming the event while performing other daily tasks.

Create a Seamless Experience

Dual Experience - Hybrid events don't emphasise in-person over virtual attendees. Instead, guests should have the same experience regardless of how they receive the information.

Technology - Encourage interaction between the in-person and virtual audiences. Explore and incorporate the best technology to reach your goals.

User-friendly - Ensure the hybrid event is user-friendly to both audiences. Level the playing field by incorporating prompts that encourage interaction and feedback.

Don't fall into the trap of creating two competing events. Instead, create an experience for a global audience. Whether participants are in the same building or online, both feel connected at a seamless event.

Virtual event

What are the Benefits of Offering Hybrid Events?

Consider hybrid conferences the best of both worlds. Although both in-person and virtual events have unique opportunities for attendees, the ultimate goal is the same. You want to provide valuable information in an engaging way to the biggest audience.

Expand Your Audience

Globalisation has led to great success in many industries. Corporations have crossed borders in building a global workforce. Hybrid virtual events allow you to expand globally.

Hosting a corporate event for your global team is crucial for team-building. Bringing in team members from other countries is costly, and travel restrictions can also prohibit some people from attending. Plus, health concerns and mobility are things to consider.

Make Engagement a Priority

Live streaming isn't simply viewing an event online as it's happening in real time. Utilise tools that help speakers interact with in-person and online audiences.

Instead of allowing immediate playback following a session, create an on-demand portal with videos available 24 hours later. Also, explore a hybrid event pay structure that includes various playback options.

Focus on Sponsors

Large conferences and trade shows often rely on industry partners to cover the event expenses. You can increase sponsorship by offering a hybrid event. Emphasise the reach a hybrid audience can experience.

Your event can become an excellent opportunity for a sponsor looking to reach a global audience. Brand recognition is an essential marketing tool you don't want to downplay.

If your organisation wants to market the event to sponsors, prepare your marketing materials to include the importance and added value of a hybrid experience.

Appeal to Environmentalists

Today, more than ever, there's a push for individuals to lower their carbon footprint. One way to increase participation in hybrid virtual events is to appeal to environmentalists.

Online participation becomes a valuable asset for popular events. Although you want the in-person event to have a great response, don't overshadow the success of the online experience.

Virtual events cut down on travel. With gas prices going through the roof, so are plane tickets. You can use this to market the virtual event as an alternative.

For good measure, emphasise online access to programs and promotional materials vs. printing and mailing the materials.

Now, let's go in-depth on hybrid event tips for a successful event.

event host

Fifteen Event Tips to Consider

The following tips will help you create the event your clients, employees, and conference attendees will appreciate. Remember, attendees want valuable content. Whether a company event or a public event, no one wants their time wasted.

Always consider the audience. Just because something is trendy doesn't mean it's appropriate for your event.

1. Strive for Maximum Attendance

You can push for maximum attendance based on physical location when hosting a hybrid event. Plus, you have unlimited possibilities for the virtual audience.

It's crucial to pick the right venue for aesthetics. Keep in mind that the hybrid virtual event portion gets streamed. You need enough space for multiple videographers to move about freely.

The physical atmosphere should transfer to the online audience.

Various events require multiple rooms for break-out sessions. For general assembly, you'll need a large room with ample seating. Other things to consider when looking for a venue to host the in-person event include:

  • Catering services
  • Parking
  • Hotels
  • Transportation
  • Proximity to airports

Ensure your event website contains a page for out-of-town attendees and special guests. Consider hosting a VIP hotel and a separate hotel for attendees.

2. Audiences Change, So Should Your Approach

Never assume that what worked last year will work this year. People change, and how they engage with your event will also change. For example, the person who attended a virtual event last year may want to attend in person at the upcoming event.

When promoting the hybrid conferences, always market both events. On the event website, create the spaces highlighting the benefits of each method of attendance.

Use feedback from past events to determine what people enjoyed and rated as valuable content. Do away with topics that had the least amount of engagement.

Don't be afraid to try new technology. Explore what's available to audiences today and see if it fits your event's model.

Find ways to incorporate virtual reality (VR) into the user experience, as it is increasing in popularity. Use it for engaging interactive sessions targeted toward a younger audience.

Hybrid conference

3. Release Content Based on Time Zones

It's essential to the success of your hybrid event to have as many participants follow the event's schedule. However, it would help if you also offered flexibility to hybrid virtual audiences in different time zones.

To accomplish this goal, offer live streaming services that allow you to re-air events as though they are happening in real time. This way, you can set perimeters based on location.

The stream is only available in designated time zones at specific times. Following the conference, you can modify content and break it into individual sessions for an online event library.

By creating time zone-specific airing, you can market the hybrid event to different audiences and give the illusion they are viewing in real time. The chat and other communications are specific to each audience.

4. Incorporate Product Placement

One hybrid event idea to consider is product placement. Product placement is an advertising tool offered to sponsors which allows their product to get integrated into the event.

For example, if Pepsi is the beverage sponsor, the camera person is intentional about zooming in on the beverages the speakers are drinking. In cases where a corporation is hosting the event, employees and speakers might wear branded polos.

There are numerous ways to insert products into an event to satisfy the requirements for effective placement. It increases sponsorship and drills home the identity of the event itself.

5. Utilise Event Planning Tools

Event and party planning aren't as easy or glamorous as some people believe. If a hybrid event doesn't go as planned, the person or team responsible for planning the event takes the blame. In some instances, it can cost someone their job.

With the help of technology, apps make it easier to plan, organise, and communicate with your clients and audience. There are apps available for every size event and to fit every budget.

From communication apps to ticket sales, here are a few to research:

  • Accelevents
  • Adobe Scans
  • Asana
  • Bizzabo
  • Conference Tracker
  • CrowdCompass
  • Cvent Event Management
  • Eventbrite
  • GoTo Webinar
  • Infor Sales and Catering
  • WebEx Events

Many of these apps offer free versions of their tools. You can also invest in enterprise packages if you host multiple events throughout the year.

Virtual reality

6. Roll-out AR Technology

One of the key differences between augmented reality and VR is the technology used. VR requires equipment, whereas AR utilises computer hardware and apps.

You can utilise both as hybrid event ideas. You can set up rooms for VR engagement at in-person events and provide users with the necessary equipment.

Consider working with a developer to create games and interactive sessions for users. It will enhance the hybrid conference experience and promote its purpose. Both in-person and virtual attendees will get the same experience.

Companies are now using both AR and VR technology to enhance product displays. Use your hybrid conference as a marketing tool to provide options to sponsors.

Behind the scenes, AR technology experiences are a bonus add-on for attendees.

7. Create Engaging Content

Create engaging content before, during, and after the hybrid event. Your goal is to energise the audience so they'll attend the event. Once at the event, you need content that adds value and serves a purpose.

Following the event, you want to remind attendees how enjoyable it was and why they should start planning for the next hybrid conference.

Content is crucial for the success of any endeavour. The event planning space is about showing why a product or service is needed. Create social media and email marketing content using highlights from the event.

Use vivid images and high-resolution videos in formats suited for social audiences. On Facebook, use images and long-form videos. On Instagram and TikTok, create a fun yet informative short-form videos.

Show people what they are missing and encourage them to look forward to future events. Or, remind them there is still time to join the current conference.

Email marketing allows you to showcase event blogs and updates, plus promote gear and promotional items available for purchase. It's also another way to promote sponsors.

8. Don't Skimp on Marketing Materials

Go all out for your event by highlighting that it's an in-person event with a virtual option.

Utilise all means of advertising. Use print media and local advertising to reach the audience in the city where the event will occur.

We all know that digital marketing is essential today. Take advantage of PPC ads that appear across the internet. Most social media sites now offer digital ad placement.

Locate the platforms that cater to the target audience for the event. Utilise hybrid event ideas to capture the attention of people seeing the ad. When people connect with an advertisement, they will likely attend the event.

9. Use Hybrid Events to Build Your Brand

Hybrid events are an essential tool in building your brand. Perhaps you're a business new on the scene. By hosting this type of event, you can use a smaller venue but appeal to a larger audience.

Utilise low-cost marketing strategies like social media to reach your audience and engage people.

If you find that in-person ticket sales miss the mark, it's easy to switch to a hybrid virtual event. Most people will understand and log on to access the activities from the comfort of their homes.

Once your brand becomes recognisable, you can create an in-person event in the future.

10. Engage the Audience with Musical Entertainment

Eliminate low points at your hybrid event by incorporating musical entertainment. Breaks, lunch hours, and invite-only events are perfect for live entertainment. It allows the attendees to relax as they eat or hang out with others between sessions.

Entertainment choices are limitless. Try something as simple as a violinist in a common area. Or hire a comedian to come in during session breaks to give people a reason to laugh.

Review the many options for hybrid event ideas.

11. Invest in High-Quality Production

Investing in high-quality production equipment and services is essential for the success of any event. When your hybrid event has a virtual component, the need for the best production is critical.

Participants can share their thoughts about the event in real time. Negative responses will have adverse effects on the event and future events.

Pay close attention to online chatter. People who complain about the quality of live streams might decide to log off.

12. Gather Feedback at All Stages

Event planners often focus on getting participants' feedback after the event. To get an accurate picture of your hybrid event, gathering information at all stages is crucial.

Remember, your customers go beyond the attendees. You want feedback from your team, client, venue, sponsors, and vendors. Only then can you thoroughly assess the outcomes.

There is a lot to glean from surveys, so ensure you're asking the right question of the correct people. Create separate surveys for specific groups. Issue the surveys after parties have performed their specific duties.

Follow up with those who do not return the initial survey.

Virtual team meeting

13. Keep Communication Flowing

Communication is vital to the success of a hybrid event. No matter how busy or overwhelmed you become, don't allow it to become an excuse for not returning calls.

Effective communication with sponsors, vendors, and attendees will go a long way in improving the overall experience. If you miss a message or overlook a call, apologise immediately.

Respond to emails as soon as possible. How you communicate is the difference between someone saying it was a good event or an exceptional event.

14. Create Small Lead-up Events

Sometimes a large hybrid event needs hype to ensure its success. By creating smaller lead-up events, you create excitement for the big event.

Lead-up opportunities can come in various ways. You can host online social media talks where guest speakers get introduced to your audience.

Host pre-event reception to announce the upcoming event. Invite the press, bloggers, and social media influencers. Gather support and enthusiasm for the event and get people talking.

The more hype you build around the event, the better your chances of it being a great success.

15. Analyse the Data

Ensure your event planning team is utilising the latest event planning software. The software allows the team to keep track of spending, attendance, feedback, and other valuable information. Following any endeavour, you want to measure the return on investment.

Following the event, have a meeting to discuss outcomes. Did you reach your goals, what was the attendee feedback, and were you within the event budget?

Cover everything from the planning process to the venue, catering, and services provided by hotels, transportation, internet providers, etc.

Unless your event took a huge loss, there is room to improve on the next event. A significant loss means the event wasn't well planned or attended. A loss could mean you failed to connect with your target audience or your goals are no longer relevant.

Go back to the drawing board and reassess the need for the event.

Virtual entertainment

Start Preparing for the Next Hybrid Event

It's never too soon to start preparing for your next hybrid event. Building on past successes is vital to future events.

Whether virtual or in-person, entertainment can help balance an event. Use live performances to close out daily sessions or at a closing event.

Bands for Hire offers a wide array of live and virtual entertainment options for every event. We'd love to hear about your event and pair you with the right performers.

Our team members are excited to discuss the possibilities of taking your event to the next level. Check out these party bands to celebrate another successful event.