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The past year has pushed event planners to get used to digital meetings and events. Events are usually the marquee of marketing campaigns and it’s hard for companies to carry on without them. This put companies, especially those that weren’t too keen on hosting virtual events, at a disadvantage.
Hybrid events, however, can offer such companies a middle ground. You can invite a small number of attendees to the in-person event, and the rest of your audience can join virtually via an online event platform. This setting works great for various events, including conferences, trade shows, expos, etc. especially in a post-COVID-19 world where it’s difficult to arrange large gatherings.
Hosting a hybrid event, however, gets a bit tricky considering a portion of your audience is in a physical setting while the rest has remote access. Trying to offer a unified experience in such a diverse setting takes a serious amount of brainstorming and planning.
And that’s where we jump in. From our past experience of hosting a good number of events for our valued clients, we have gathered great insights on how to host a successful hybrid conference. Ideas presented here would help you host a great hybrid event that’ll help you meet your business goals.
Physical events often push away a lot of people due to a plethora of restrictions. Even if we take travel costs out of the equation, there are a lot of issues.
Crowds and exhaustion puts some people off. On the other hand, some people are more open to the experience of conventional networking at physical events. So, some people will prefer to join online, while some will consider attending the in-person event.
Hybrid conferences also allow you to let attendees that can’t join the event physically due to travel restrictions, join online.
With that said, you’ll have to strike a fine balance here. You should know how many will attend your event virtually and how many will join you physically and plan accordingly. The key takeaway here is to offer flexibility.
It seems like an obvious point, you want your venue to look appealing to the people who are attending the event. While that is certainly the right idea, you need to plan this for your virtual audience as well. This means that you’ll need to have a strong understanding of your venue partners. If they understand your needs and comply with them, you are going to be much better off.
First off, you must find vendors who can work easily with each other to accommodate the cross-channel — in person and virtual — collaboration. From a technical standpoint, you need to have access to high-speed internet and a reliable A/V team. Next, you need to figure out how the room layout is going to look. For a hybrid conference, you need to position the room in such a way so that it looks spacious. Additionally, you can mirror your floor plans and venue on the virtual event platform, so that people can intuitively navigate and feel like they’re at the physical venue. Doing so means that virtual attendees will be able to get a feel of the scope for your hybrid conference.
In short, it should feel immersive and be interactive. The audience watching from home should feel like they’re attending an event, not just watching a video. A good way of doing this is putting screens around the stage to display information to both the virtual and in-person audience.
This is not so much an idea but a rule that is worth following. Having content on-demand means that you are willing to offer information during and after the conference is over. While your audience should be excited to attend the event, they don’t need to feel like they are forced to watch a 5-hour long session of marketing.
This is why you need to think for both the digital and physical audiences. You need to figure out at what time you are going to host the event. This is so that the in-person attendees can join with ease, and the same goes for the virtual audiences. Think of where most of your virtual audience is located and keep time zones in mind.
There should be a flow to things so people feel like they are getting the information they want, and when they want. A hybrid conference has the advantage that it doesn’t need to go on for a long time. So, keep things clear, concise, yet engaging.
Another idea here is making the conference evergreen. This means that you should create a platform where people can come and talk during and after the event. You also take advantage of recorded sessions, so that people can go over the information in the future.
The biggest challenge of hybrid conferences is making sure that both of your audiences are satisfied. Collaboration is a crucial aspect of making this happen. You want to make sure that both audiences feel like they are attending the same event, or at least get the same experience. There are several ways to solve this dilemma.
You can allow remote attendees to take part in demonstrations or ask questions. Doing this is as easy as putting up a screen so that the physical audience can join in with them. You want to blend engagement between both audiences. Gamification is also a good method for those. Incorporate fun activities and games into your conference/event to take user engagement to the next level.
Those are just a few key ideas that you want to keep in mind while planning a hybrid event. Sure, they can be a bit intimidating and not the easiest to pull off. But the right virtual event service provider can make the process simpler and the event more effective.
Just make sure what your goals are and try to think outside of the box in providing an interactive experience.
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