Organizing a hybrid event demands the host to be agile, flexible, and smart. In 2021, when there’s a significant surge in the usage of gadgets and devices all battling for your attention, it’s not that easy to engage the attendees that are remotely attending the session. Comparatively, the distractions are less for the staff physically present.
Due to a difference in the setting, there’s a gap in the experience your remote and in-person audiences will have. Your job, as a host, is to minimize this gap to provide a seamless, interactive event for both audiences.
Here are our top hybrid event best practices to counter this issue and host an ideal hybrid event.
1. Keep Yourself Open To Revisions
To avoid last-minute panic, this practice can help you a great deal. If the content to be delivered is decided, and the speakers are assigned their topics, you must re-visit the presentations, videos, and all that content to be presented before the audience.
See if it aligns with your agenda for the event and provides value.
You need to serve the participants with value-added content for their invested time in your event. And if that means revisiting your content a few times over, it’s worth the effort.
However, as an event planner, you should approach your first hybrid event as a learning opportunity. There will be a trial period for all companies as they shift into this new way of hosting events.
Our clients have shared similar concerns when they started hosting virtual events: they were intimidated at the idea of it because they’ve never done it before. But the more events they hosted, the better they became at it.
2. Adhere To On-Site Operation Functionalities
It’s not that big of a concern for the virtual delegates but the physically present participants; you’ve to rehearse where the show is supposed to happen. You, with all your team members, should schedule a specific time of the day to rehearse and examine if the lights/sound is functioning properly, so it doesn’t cause an embarrassment for you when actually, you’d be there.
Additionally, make sure that anything being live-streamed is set up so that it offers clear audio and video to the virtual audience. Do a quick ‘tech check’ before the event, where someone can view the presentation through the virtual platform and suggest any changes, if needed
3. Engage The Virtual Partakers
It’s easier for remote attendees to just sit back and attend the event passively, without actively taking part in the event. Being a host, you should not let this happen.
To better engage your remote audience, instruct your speakers to put in the queries for virtual attendees constantly, so they don’t feel awkwardly shrugged off. The involvement from the on-site attendees is undoubtedly essential. But most of the time, they manage to interact as the speaker is right in front of them, unlike the participants who joined the session remotely.
At live webinars, it is crucial to engage both audiences. Use features that both in-person and virtual attendees can interact with. For example, live polling and Q&As can be conducted through the virtual platform app by both remote and in-person attendees. This will also allow organizers to gather event analytics once the event is over.
4. Set Time As Your Priority
Audience attention spans have reduced drastically and a slight sluggishness might cost you a fortune. Especially those who’ve joined remotely are more prone to being victimized.
Schedule your event so that the sessions are not too long and there are breaks in between. But keeping short sessions does not guarantee engagement, you’ve got to provide value-added content in an interactive way.
You should also consider time zones for people who are attending virtually. If there is a large audience from around the world, it would be best to stream the in-person presentation, and then also upload a recording of it for others to see on their own time.
5. Consider The Capacity For Attendees
Organizers should set a cap for the number of in-person tickets they sell.
If in-person tickets sell out, you should make an extra effort to promote the benefits of going to the virtual event. Some people may not buy tickets if they can’t attend in-person because they don’t see value in the virtual event. This is where your marketing team needs to step in to address their concerns and explain why the virtual alternative is worth the purchase.
6. Foster Networking Opportunities
Networking is one of the top reasons why people attend business events. Your job is to make sure that the audience that’s in your hybrid webinar/meeting interacts effectively. Providing networking opportunities to a hybrid audience is a bit tricky since a portion of your audience is present while the rest is attending it remotely.
Also, encourage attendees to set up user profiles on the virtual event platform, regardless of whether they’re joining the virtual or physical event. This way attendees and exhibitors can easily search profiles and start conversations with key targets. They can also request meetings with each other. Even if they’re both in person, it would help them better manage their calendars.
vFairs with its hybrid event software makes networking easier by allowing participants to interact via the 1-1 chat, text, or even video calls.
7. Take Economic Feasibility Into Account
This aspect is often ignored despite being one of the most crucial elements in setting up a hybrid event.
Some of the cost factors are enlisted down here:
- Virtual venue cost
- Venue booking
- Production and A/V costs
- Internet connectivity cost
- Catering/food and beverage for on-site attendees
- Setup and teardown crew
- Travel and accommodations for hosts and speakers (if you’re covering those costs)
These costs, when compiled, might turn into a considerable sum, sometimes costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the event needs. So, it’s better to be prepared and have reasonably accurate estimates of the capital required.
Budgets should take into consideration the amount of money you, the event host, could stand to recoup from sponsorships and tickets. If you expect a high return on investment, you may be able to justify spending more upfront. If you’re in an industry where there is some skepticism about hybrid events, it may be more prudent to consider starting small and slowly gain buy-in from more sponsors and attendees over time.
8. Perform Analysis To Measure Success
Analyze what’s working out for your business. Events are not a one-time thing and it’s important to learn from the issues of your previous event/s.
Sadly, audience applause is not an accurate measure of an event’s success. It’s better to trust the numbers since It’s the analysis of parameters that represent if the event was a success or not.
You need to interpret event analytics and reports and make decisions based on these results for better events (in terms of engagement, ROI, lead generations, etc.) in the future. Virtual event managers help you generate and interpret these event reports.
Here are a best event practices for more accurate event data collection:
- Registration and attendance rates are automatically tracked through attendee logins to the virtual venue. However, for in-person attendance you could sign people in using QR codes. And migrate that data to show more accurate attendance of both virtual and in-person attendees.
- Booth traffic is mostly tracked for virtual attendees. But if you follow our best practises from above and host all event collateral virtually, you can track the most popular content downloads, etc. which gives us a good idea about how in-person booths performed, too.
- Chat metrics at hybrid events can be tracked for both remote and in-person audiences if you get all attendees-virtual and in-person-to fill out user profiles. They’ll be more likely, thus, to use the virtual chat function to interact with each other.
- Presentation engagement can be measured by integrating interactive features such as polling and Q&A (as mentioned before).
- User journeys can be tracked exclusively for the virtual attendees. However, these user trends may offer valuable insights into how in-person attendees navigated the event, too. That is more likely if the virtual venue mirrors the in-person venue.
Hybrid events are a relatively new phenomenon, but they’re only going to rise in popularity. As the state of hybrid events continue to evolve, best practices will surely evolve with them. These preliminary best practices should serve as a starting point in planning your first hybrid event.
Interested in a Hybrid Event
The vFairs team can help!