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Hybrid events, as the name suggests, is a hybrid of in-person and online events. In simple words, the same event can be accessed by people in a physical venue and in a virtual environment. Both audiences get the same experience, regardless of where they join from.
This is why these events are a huge asset to organizations and the event industry in a pandemic since they cater to physical and remote audiences simultaneously.
Digital technology and its fast paced evolution is reshaping the events industry. The past year alone has been nothing short of transformational. As the world begins to open, and the onset of vaccines offers a glimmer of hope, we must explore what is in store for upcoming months when it comes to hosting and organizing events.
62% of event planners say that the future of events is hybrid. As organizations jump on this form of hosting events, let us explore some challenges that come with hybrid events, and how these can overcome them.
When starting out, it can be a bit confusing to understand which aspects of the event to focus on. It’s difficult to decide how to bring together the in-person and online event. Unintentionally, your event planner might just put together two entirely separate events rather than one unified one. Managing the logistics, costs, and management is a challenge in such a situation. Keeping a steady balance between the two event formats such that they are synced is critical.
Here, it heavily depends on your virtual event platform of choice. Creating a unified experience means you must choose event technology that supports this goal, without draining you financially and experientially. Using various different platforms will lead to a haywired hybrid event, so stick to one virtual event platform which can seamlessly connect with your physical event plans.
Because this event type is so new, you might still have some differences, and some asymmetries here and there. That is inevitable when hosting hybrid events for the first time. With time these will be ironed out.
When virtual events gained steam at the start of the pandemic, organizers were struggling to set ticket prices. Caught between incentivizing people to attend and not losing money they had some tough decisions at hand. However, in-person events more often than not have a standard price or a ticket attached. So when it comes to a hybrid event, what will be your ticketing strategy?
You aim to create one event, however, the experience is different online and an in-person. Considerations such as venue costs – food and beverages, accessible content, sponsors etc. come into play. To tackle this conundrum, create ticketing tiers and levels. Various parts of the online and in-person events can be available to different people based on their ticket level. This allows flexibility to the attendees, and greater control where they are the decision-makers in what part of the event they actually want to pay for.
Your exhibitors and sponsors want maximum visibility. They want to be seen, heard and want brand awareness. Sponsors and exhibitors have fared well in virtual events. But now the challenge is convincing them of the value they derive from hybrid events. In addition to awareness and visibility, exhibitors and sponsors get data and leads too with virtual events.
Three key factors determine an exhibitors and sponsors level of interest. Firstly, increased awareness as a global audience is at your disposal through the virtual aspect of your event. Secondly, sponsors can interact with attendees on the trade show floor in-person as well as through virtual profile search and meetings, hence more opportunities for lead generation. Thirdly, insights into attendee behavior as detailed event reporting features showcase how many attendees logged in to the event, the subsequent actions they took for instance the webinars attended, time spent in each webinar and more.
Combining together the virtual and physical aspects of the event seamlessly will provide even more insights into the event and its success thus helping organizers improve their future rendezvous.
As an organizer you must make both happy with on-site and online presence through booths, banners, graphics and more. Sponsors need opportunities in a hybrid event. By using the swag bag you can not only involve audiences, but increase exposure for sponsors as well. Sponsors can use this to send out merchandise and informative resources to their audiences. Where an actual swag bag is handed out to the in-person audience, a virtual swag bag can be sent to the online attendees. Where possible, online attendees can be sent swag bags too. This can instantly lift the experience for sponsors and attendees alike.
Getting people to interact in-person is easy with breakout sessions etc. Connecting people together online via networking lounges, interactive webinar sessions is also quite simple. But with hybrid events, the challenge is to keep the harmony between both audiences and create maximum opportunities for them to interact with each other.
As an organizer you can take a few steps to help them connect. Firstly, introduce people with similar industries or professions. Secondly, use social media to your advantage. Using a hashtag can help people see what others at the event are saying. You can also use integrations such as walls.io where you can display content from various social media content in a unified feed. Social media is an instant engagement driver, and such integrations further create opportunities for attendees to connect.
The end goal remains to empower attendees and facilitate seamless networking cross-platform, and this serves that goal.
With an in-person event engaging people from various different time zones is always a challenge. This greatly reduced the reach. In came virtual events as a solution. Attendees could be in any time zone and could easily log in. However, with hybrid events this again presents a problem.
Taking into account remote audiences and setting a suitable time will be a challenge of hybrid events. To counter this, organizers can again coordinate with their event provider to either host over multiple days or create on-demand content so no one feels left out.
Granted, this is a relatively newer landscape and it will take some time to get comfortable with the tropes. Challenges are part of the learning process, however, overcoming these challenges of hybrid events is sure shot way to success! As hybrid events are here to stay, given they increase reach and attendance, reduce costs and allow flexibility which virtual and in-person individuals do not offer.
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