Have you ever considered hosting a hybrid event? Or maybe you’re wondering what is a hybrid event exactly and what does it entail?
These types of events have surged in popularity in recent years, thanks to their ability to reach a wider audience, gain valuable insight and improve ROI. And when the global pandemic this year brought massive changes to how we work and gather, it’s no surprise organizers are exploring more and more ways to bring people together in the future.
Keep reading to learn more about hybrid events, the benefits of holding one and our strategies for pulling off an awesome one in 2021.
- What is a hybrid event?
- Why organize a hybrid event?
- What are the benefits of a hybrid event?
- 7 strategies for a successful hybrid event
What is A Hybrid Event?
Why Organize A Hybrid Event?
Given the current global pandemic, virtual is king. And while virtual events will never go away completely, in-person events won’t be on freeze forever, either. Face-to-face events will eventually return in some capacity, such as a hybrid event. The question is…will you be ready for them?
Thankfully, hybrid meetings and events don’t exactly fall under uncharted territory. These types of events were embraced even before the pandemic, and we’re going to share some key strategies shortly to help you plan yours.
What are the Benefits of A Hybrid Event?
Before diving into strategies, it’s important to understand how your business or brand could benefit from hosting hybrid meetings and events.
Hybrid events can:
Extend Your Reach
With a hybrid event, geography is no longer an impediment. Even if a pandemic hadn’t forced millions to work and gather virtually, there would still be individuals that couldn’t make it to an in-person conference based on locations, travel expenses, or any number of other factors. Offering a virtual component to an event eliminates physical barriers to entry.
Provide Valuable Insight
Despite the recent buzz around virtual events, many professionals argue that in-person events can never be replaced entirely. While we agree with this, there is one particular area where virtual events come out on top: data.
With virtual platforms, everything from attendee demographics to attendee engagement can be collected and analyzed. Organizers can track practically every movement taken by the attendees to understand which topics, speakers and sessions were the most engaging to the audience. What analyst wouldn’t be giddy over this kind of information?
Improve Your ROI
In-person events are essentially one-and-done. Sure, there’s a benefit to capturing email addresses and marketing to the same audience in the future, but you can’t really recreate the magic of an event if it’s only in-person. By setting out to create a hybrid event instead of in-person only, the virtual component can be recycled and remarketed to new audiences in the future.
Sounds pretty good, right? Let’s talk strategies.
7 Strategies for A Successful Hybrid Event
Ready to get organizing your hybrid event? Check out these strategies for pulling off a successful experience for both virtual and in-person attendees.
1. Set Expectations Early
Start off your hybrid event smoothly by setting helpful expectations for your attendees. For your virtual attendees, this includes details for logging on, information about the platform you’ll be using, time schedules, and contact information for any troubleshooting.
For those attending the event in person, send along information regarding parking, nearby hotels, time schedules, check-in details, and any other pertinent information.
The more information you can provide upfront, the smoother the event will start.
2. Offer Flexibility
Even at the best of times, things happen—flights get canceled, travel plans change, other work responsibilities come up. Throw in a global pandemic on top of it, and travel becomes even more uncertain.
Counter this uncertainty by allowing a seamless transition for in-person attendees to virtual attendees should their plans change at the last minute.
3. Consider Your Online Presence
When creating your event, keep in mind what it’s like to be behind a screen all day. Remember that your virtual attendees will have shorter attention spans, so consider how this will impact speaker or activity time limits.
You’ll also want to consider how these attendees will interact with those at the event. Guestboard offers a way to manage your attendee list AND give them a way to networks and interact– whether they’re physically present or connecting remotely.
When you begin organizing the event and flushing out the schedule for your hybrid event, strive to keep your virtual attendees on top of mind to ensure that they feel included in the event.
4. Shoot for an Evergreen Event
We’ve already touched on the benefits of having a virtual element to your events, such as the opportunity to extend your reach, capture and analyze data, and improve your ROI. Now, what if you could repeat that same opportunity again and again?
Sounds awesome, right? One way to ensure your event can be used again is to make the content evergreen. In other words, it’s not time-sensitive. As you’re planning your event, strive for content that can be used again in the future. A lot of effort and money has gone into planning your event and engagements, so why not get the most out of them and continue to extend your reach even further while you’re at it?
5. Facilitate Discussions Effectively
It’s difficult to present an online panel to an in-person crowd. So if possible, have your speakers physically present at the event. From there, decide how you want to facilitate any discussions to be inclusive of both audiences.
A great way to execute this is to have an in-person host who manages the physical attendees and their questions. Then appoint a second virtual host who can flip between videos and mute/unmute virtual attendees, thereby offering them a chance to participate by asking questions or offering insight to the discussion.
Just as you would rehearse speakers for an exclusively physical event, aim to rehearse your event’s virtual components ahead of time.
Run through sound checks, coach speakers on where to look during their engagement, so they’re speaking to both the physical and virtual audience.
This will allow time for working out any technical difficulties to ensure a smooth and inclusive day of the event.
7. Proactively Follow-up
After the event’s over, don’t forget to tap into that goldmine of data! The virtual component data is there to help you understand what worked well and what could potentially be scrapped in the future as you continue to evolve your hybrid events.
You can always grab information from your physical attendees as well, by asking for survey completion at the event or via email later. Either way, you’ve got two audiences to learn from and tap into again in the future.
Hybrid meetings and events might be the perfect solution for your business as the world continues to navigate the pandemic and sets a safe path to the eventual return to physical spaces. Once we’re meeting in-person again (fingers crossed for 2021!), why not combine the best of both worlds with a face-to-face event offering virtual components?
No matter what type of event you have on the horizon, Guestboard is here to help. Ready to get started building your event schedule? Create your free event board.