Have you heard the term hybrid events? What are they? What are some of the most common mistakes you should avoid? What are some hybrid events’ pros and cons? And most importantly, when should you plan one?
Maybe prior to clicking on this article, you thought hybrid events were just a random name given to a very special kind of event. The event that gets to park in the fancy electric vehicle spots at Whole Foods.
Or maybe you already know what they are, but you don’t know where to begin?
While many believe in the power of hybrid events, many also seek some additional ideas to host the best hybrid event. If any of these resonate with you, continue reading for a quick overview of hybrid events pros and cons along with the best practices.
What is a Hybrid Event?
The term hybrid event simply refers to any conference, seminar, or meeting that has both a physical “in-person” format and a “virtual” online component. The online component is meant for remote attendees. Hybrid events have certainly gained traction in the last 5-10 years, and since the pandemic, they are more popular.
First, let’s go over a few pros and then cons to understand hybrid events better.
Hybrid Event – Pros
Here are the five top pros if you are planning to host a hybrid event soon.
Increased Attendance Capability
According to many experts, the most obvious pro is increased attendance. When you make your event accessible online, it enables those people to “attend” your event who might otherwise be unable to attend. Some common reasons include travel, cost, time, as well as venue size constraints.
Also, in a number of cases, up to 50% of virtual attendees have never ever attended the physical version of the conference or meeting. Hosting an online portion as a part of a hybrid event helps you target dormant employees, members, along with customers of your organization.
Reducing the need for travel means a reduced environmental impact. If you plan to include a virtual environment, some of the biggest additional advantages, such as eco-friendly events, can be enjoyed. These advantages have previously never been possible.
First and foremost, you will be interacting with zero-waste in a virtual environment. Additionally, your virtual portion produces only 1% of the carbon emissions that in-person events produce. Essentially there is nothing to build and nothing is thrown away. Hosting a hybrid event is a much cleaner and more eco-friendly alternative to a fully in-person event.
Powerful Sponsor Opportunities
Nearly around 72% of corporate sponsors are heavily interested in participating in a hybrid event. This is the best possibility as long as they can effectively reach both audiences (in-person and virtual).
Hybrid events are of incredible value for sponsors. The top reason is the increased reach. In simple words, more attendees at your event automatically mean a larger lead pool for sponsors. This is the number one reason for better sponsorship.
The second reason is that the sponsors can easily communicate 1:1 with interested parties. This is done while they are also interacting with online virtual attendees. Some demographics, particularly Millennials, highly prefer virtual communication. The resultant possibility is that this may lead to increased participation at their virtual booth.
Another reason is the increased opportunities for sponsorship. They can sponsor live streams, event apps, and more, instead of just sponsoring live collateral.
Also, this offers more flexibility in your sponsorship prospectus. You can simply have live sponsors, virtual sponsors, or even both.
Higher Audience Engagement
When it comes to higher audience engagement, adding a virtual element to your live event is the key. This opens up a wider variety of engagement opportunities as compared to a strictly live event (both during and post-event).
This is due to the fact that your virtual audience is actively participating from their mobile devices or desktop computer. It means they can talk, share, like, comment, and perform many more online functions.
For example, you can plan to host polls during sessions. They can include both the live as well as your online audience.
On the other hand, you could have a Q&A session with a speaker at the live event. The online audience can submit questions as the presentation is being live-streamed, and have their questions answered at the same time as the live audience. They just need a moderator or a screen in place for the presenter to see questions online. Later you can invite them to have a Q&A with your online audience. This can commonly be done at a studio that broadcasts your live event online.
Not only this but you can even help live as well as virtual attendees network with each other. Attendees can search user-profiles and find prospects for in-person or virtual meetings.
The easiest way to keep track of all these engagement avenues is to start with your attendees. Whether online or offline, what will their entire journey look like? When you plan your event audience-first, you ensure that you weave in the necessary and the most sensible engagement opportunities for them.
Another biggest benefit of hybrid events comes from the data along with the insights it shows. For example, at a live event, you can simply perform a headcount and quickly estimate how many viewers participated in your session.
But in the case of hybrid events, you know the exact participation numbers. You also know how they engaged and when they dropped out of your session. Not only this but you also gain information about your attendees’ interests with the help of matchmaking data and session participation.
All this valuable information helps you improve your future content. In the case of sponsors, well, they gain essential info on booth traffic as well as attendee engagement. This greatly helps them prove a positive return on investment.
Now due to the online nature of hybrid events, you are able to gain a lot of trackable metrics. These metrics are those that you simply can’t measure offline. A hybrid event platform is the most essential component for providing these sorts of insights.
Hybrid Events – Cons
In the case of hybrid events pros and cons, the five most common cons of hosting a hybrid event include:
Delivery Has Potential to Become Complex
Trying to host a fully built-out in-person and virtual event simultaneously could become complex. When you plan to deliver a hybrid event, people generally believe they must deliver two almost-identical events simultaneously virtually and in person.
However, hybrid events come in may different forms. It could simply be a live stream with a few other engagement features, or offering exhibitors the chance to have a booth on the live trade show floor and the virtual floor. It doesn’t require a whole lot extra. Additionally, you could host a live event then the online portion after the live event has closed.
Thinking strategically when it comes to planning will help you understand just how large your event plan needs to get, but there are lots of ways to mitigate extra work that might not foster results.
Sponsors May Need Extra Guidance
Most of the time, it is harder to get sponsors on board if you are unable to convince them that they are getting sufficient exposure. This becomes one of the biggest challenges for the host if not tackled in the right manner.
Getting more sponsors onboard exclusively depends on the value your event providers can provide to them. The technology needs to ensure that the sponsors receive similar benefits as opposed to a physical event. The key is to educate your sponsors about past event successes, attendee behaviours and the increased level of exposure they will get at your hybrid event.
Additional Coordination & Engagement Requirements
If you are a single person organizing as well as managing a hybrid event, you may experience some challenges planning and executing your event. Other than the time, effort, and resources you will need to set up either a live or online event, directing cross-channel hybrid events add a new dimension completely.
You will be considering the customer experience for both types of attendees. You need to decide how you can provide them a wholesome experience. Also, the technical and physical aspects of an event can be challenging and intricate. Especially, when it comes to conducting the event properly and running it smoothly.
As a one-man-army, another challenging part is to manage virtual experiences for the participants who join the event from a variety of locations across the globe. So, it is important to focus on the demands of both attendees.
With the help of an expert team and a professional virtual event platform, things can be easily managed. The online platform will provide solutions for live-streaming equipment. It will also enable practical discussions for online and offline engagement.
Potential Connectivity Issues
When conducting hybrid events, another concern that can arise is the uncertain connection issues. Due to connectivity issues, virtual participants are not able to get the complete experience. As a result, you face demotivation of the attendees connecting online, as it disrupts their experience considerably.
Naturally, what can be more frustrating than having connection lags while being part of a hybrid event virtually? This issue will make them avoid joining in the session.
According to 67% of event organizers, for a smooth experience, it is important to ensure smooth technology otherwise you will face the biggest challenge.
The solution is simple. You need to research and opt for an online platform that offers smooth connectivity throughout the event. The team responsible for technical issues needs to be experts in their field.
Change Is Always Challenging
Hybrid events challenge people to change by their very nature. Whilst the hybrid events pros and cons do not shout change, they certainly cause. This happens because of the opportunities that are provided by such events. Attendees have better choices and organizations are free to decide whether or not to hold hybrid events.
Well, you can argue that change is a good thing but not everyone wants or accepts the change.
In-person events were the only option up until about 10 years ago. People are used to them. They know what to expect and how business is generated. In short, they are comfortable and argue upon the so-called fact that when something is not broken, why fix it?
Thanks to COVID-19 that changed everything and events went significantly virtual. We know virtual works well. And when you add virtual to an in-person event, you are making big changes once again.
Not everyone accepts change or is ready for it. The best solution is to educate yourself first, educate your audience and partners, and work with a team that can support your specific event goals, regardless of the event format.
No matter what stage you are in, hybrid events are a win-win situation. Such events offer all the possible advantages of an online event. This is perfectly accompanied by allowing attendees to have face-to-face interactions with the guests as well as deliver an exceptional event experience.
Talking about hybrid events pros and cons, it’s a unique experience. It can be incredibly valuable as well as rewarding if managed and hosted the right way. All you need to do is set expectations and follow through with them for a successful event.
While some guests may be attending to exchange their experience virtually with other coworkers, others may be drafting and reading emails at the same time. Possibilities are endless but at the end of the day, it is imperative to comprehend that a hybrid event is a different experience for each individual.
Hybrid events include all the possible benefits of an online event while still allowing you to make contact with attendees and give them the full event experience they deserve. As hybrid events are one of the new norms in the events industry, we are working to make your hybrid event experience as interactive and informative as possible.
Ready to learn more about Hybrid Events?
Get your Ultimate Guide To Hybrid Events
Download My Hybrid Events Guide