When researching hybrid event integrations, it’s difficult not to be upset about the old days. Happy days when all an event required was a snazzy stage, recognizable speakers, and a dash of razzamatazz. It would be fueled with plenty of food and drink, and the guests would feel the experience was a triumph.

Those days are now gone, having been crushed by the COVID-19 pandemic. If the rise of virtual events in the previous year has taught us anything, it’s that event planners need to grasp technology a tad stronger if they want to remain viable. The concern is, what technology will be used? And what are we going to do with it?

One point is certain: upcoming events will almost certainly involve a combination of digital and physical participant experiences. To connect diverse audience journeys, clever thinking and new technology are required. This is especially true when it comes to fostering human connection, because that is what events are for.

What is a Hybrid Event Platform?

The hybrid event platform has combined the worlds of virtual and in-person events, allowing you to achieve more with your marketing expenditures than ever before. The ideal hybrid event platform offers a variety of integration options that create a seamless experience for virtual and in-person audiences.

The following are some of the most important considerations when looking for an effective hybrid event platform:

Content Strategy

When picking a hybrid event platform, bear your content strategy in mind. Content must keep your audience engaged, which may be tough to do when staring at a screen for an extended period of time.

Pick a platform that supports various content formats, such as live broadcasts, pre-recorded videos, and a live feed where speakers, suppliers, and visitors may share material and engage with one another. Live chat, Q&A and polling options are great ways to connect the virtual and in-person audiences throughout live presentations as well.

Exhibitors and Virtual Booths

You must also keep a lookout for potential exhibitors. Will exhibitors that have a physical booth also desire a virtual booth? Are they the same exhibitor? These are all things to be concerned about. A good hybrid events platform will offer fully functional virtual exhibit booths. These exhibitors could have a booth on the live trade show floor and the virtual floor, or choose only to exhibit in one of those spaces. You can offer custom exhibitor packages to each of your event partners, depending on their specific needs and goals.

Behaviour Tracking

It’s useful to identify how many guests attended specific sessions because then you can learn more about the target audience.

Seek a hybrid event integration that includes metrics and data tracking. This function keeps track of which and how many users attend specific sessions.

Plus, knowing which users engaged in each session allows you to deliver surveys or other customized communications to those individuals.

user journey details

Live Chat and Social Media-Inspired Networking

Since networking is quite often a key reason individuals respond to events, it’s critical to select a hybrid event integration with user-friendly live chat and messaging tools.

Certain systems, such as walls.io, which are best known for tracking hashtags or posts on certain social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) and curates them into a display wall.

How are Hybrid Events Valuable?

Among the most positive impacts given by hybrid events is, without a doubt, the convenience with which a larger audience can be attracted, since those who are unable to attend physical events may join in online.

Another incentive is that all of the event content may be maintained online for a set period of time after the event. Participants, as well as those who were unable to connect to the digital event at the time, may therefore view the material after the event has been completed. Because not everyone feels at ease in a virtual environment, hybrid events provide attendees the option of how they wish to attend the event.

By allowing planners to evaluate audience engagement and emotion in real-time, hybrid events get them closer to the awareness they seek. Through surveys, audience voting, Q&As, and social integration, this technology tracks audience presence, involvement, and views. 

This interaction can offer the most vital information on what programming was most effective, which participants found the content most beneficial, and what areas to improve on in the future.

Integration of Virtual and Physical in Hybrid Events

When in-person and virtual aspects are allowed to play to their strengths, hybrid events are most efficient. Simply said, treating your in-person and virtual components as separate experiences is the best and easiest approach to manage your hybrid event. 

Platforms such as vFairs, which provide specialized platforms for virtual guests, help to create a smooth event for everyone engaged.

Following are some essential measures to follow for a great combination of virtual and physical in hybrid events:

1. Supercharging Your Hybrid Events with Digital Visitors

Most current forecasters believe that future hybrid events will have a limited number of live attendance and a bigger digital audience. That isn’t always the case; no one can guarantee that physical events will lessen in size after a pandemic. Aside from that, digital has the potential to significantly increase audience sizes for all events – there is almost no limit to the number of people who may participate digitally.

A lot of activities take place over the course of many days. That may be ideal for those who have flown to exotic locations for the actual event, but virtual participants cannot be expected to stay completely engaged for that amount of time. This raises the issue, ‘How can a hybrid event agenda accommodate both audiences?’

The best option to mitigate this issue is pre-recorded webinars. People can watch whenever they want to. A chat box/Q&A can still be shown on the side of the screen during these sessions, so the host or presenter can check in periodically and answer questions or comments that have come in. 

Another way to work around this is to offer the event live, record the presentations, and then launch the virtual part of the event after the live event is completely wrapped. vFairs calls this a ‘sequential’ hybrid event.

Time zones also play a key role. For example, a virtual attendee in the UK is unlikely to stay up until 3 a.m. just to attend a post-event networking party taking place in Vegas. It is essential to arrange your time zones carefully. 

You can hold one event in which essential aspects of the agenda are repeated three times. The first slot is recorded in front of a live audience, and it is followed by a Q&A session. Then, as additional time zones become available, the recorded presentation is replayed, followed by a live Q&A session with the presenters, ensuring that later participants have as rich an experience as the first.

2. Use Matchmaking Techniques to Connect Attendees

Making it easier for people to network becomes more intriguing. Hybrid events are on their way in, and will be the event type of choice for a while. We need to become more tech-savvy as an industry quickly if we are to avoid pure-play tech corporations from entering and disrupting the sector. 

On top of that fundamental talent, you must add new digital skills that are tailored to your new online audience. These abilities may be applied not only to digital audiences but also to develop and improve experiences for all audiences, virtual and physical.

3. Deliver Digestible Content

There is fear that those who join remotely do not pay complete attention. Here’s an ugly truth: neither do the individuals who attend physically. How many big presentations have you attended when people in the crowd were distracted by their phones or even had computers open? The truth is that everyone is distracted, and we must account for this in our content strategies.

The challenge – for both live and virtual audiences – is how to construct an agenda that includes readily consumable material as well as possibilities for opt-in deeper digs. Presentations in virtual events should be kept to intervals of 15-20 minutes. Presentations that run longer than that time should consider scheduling breaks into their sessions. Following the lecture, anybody interested in learning more can participate in a separate conversation with the speaker.

One of the most difficult problems for hybrid events is getting individuals who join online and those who attend physically to collaborate with speakers. Technology can aid, such as when all participants use their phones to ‘raise their hands’ or submit questions during Q&A sessions.

How Do You Facilitate Attendee Engagement at a Hybrid Event?

Hybrid event integrations have additional hurdles since it will require you to engage not one, but two audiences — those who access your event online and those who visit your hybrid event location in person.

Here, we’ve included our best suggestions and resources for encouraging hybrid event audience interaction. For more information on holding a hybrid event, please contact our virtual and hybrid event specialists, who would be delighted to assist.

1. Knowing Your Audience

It is the most important aspect to consider when adding the engagement factor into the hybrid event. This allows you to better understand your attendees and plan event material that will appeal to both virtual and in-person attendees. 

Furthermore, it allows you to segment your audience for better interaction. To learn more about your guests, create an event registration form with customized questions.

2. Interaction is the Key

Allowing your in-person and virtual guests to connect with one another is one of the best methods to increase engagement at your hybrid event. You may urge both your audiences to submit questions and polls based on the session themes throughout the event. 

Aside from that, you may include a private chat option so that your attendees can communicate using their mobile devices. These capabilities are available through some of the top mobile event applications on the market.

3. Finding Speaker or Moderator with Hybrid Event Experience 

A speaker is essential in engaging an audience in any event. However, it is much more critical in the case of hybrid occurrences. A speaker may be well-versed in your event’s subject matter and have presented several in-person events in the past, but he or she will struggle to engage both live and virtual participants at the same time. 

In simple words, it is critical to select a speaker who has prior experience organizing hybrid events. If that’s not possible, having a moderator who has run multi-channel presentations before would be extremely beneficial.

4. Seamless Live Streaming

If your virtual guests encounter any problems while watching the live broadcast of the event, they may get disinterested. It is critical to verify that you are live streaming the event utilizing the finest virtual meeting platform. 

Some of the factors to consider when selecting a meeting platform are HD quality video, interaction features, polls and surveys, device and browser compatibility, and so on.

an image of a tedx event

How Do You Promote a Hybrid Event?

Hybrid events need event planners to attract in-person guests without rejecting virtual attendees, as well as competing for the attention of a virtual audience in a crowded market. How can event organizers advertise their activities such that they stand out and appeal to both groups?

Below are our top tips for marketing like a pro:

Understand Your Goals

The event marketing process begins with the recognition that there is an event that can assist your organization in achieving a certain objective. Events may serve to increase the sales funnel, boost morale, market a product, provide critical messaging, or cultivate thought leadership and brand reputation.

By determining the goals of the in-person event, you can next design how a virtual component might provide value. Knowing the ultimate goal will help you design targeted event marketing communications for both in-person and virtual audiences.

Host an Event Teaser

One of the benefits of an online format is that it allows for a lot of pre-event hype. A teaser livestream broadcast, for example, might allow prospective attendees to preview the event’s content while demonstrating the engagement and involvement your platform provides. 

This allows prospective virtual participants to see the online format ahead of time, and even those who plan to attend in person will have an incentive to familiarize themselves with the platform beforehand.

Use Social Media to Build an Online Community

Having a social media presence for your event has always been a good idea. But the type of branding that planners should consider when establishing communities around recurrent events should be long-term. Dedicated event Facebook groups, hashtags that are kept alive and in circulation, and Instagram accounts that reveal behind-the-scenes of event preparation and highlight both speakers and influencers, as well as especially active members of the community with intriguing things to say.

Creating a social media network surrounding your event and its brand will provide future versions, spin-offs, and the organizers’ other activities in general with a ready and waiting audience.

Create Email Campaigns

An email campaign is one of the most efficient methods to promote your event. Begin by sending invites through email to your attendee database. People who have previously attended your events are likely to be interested in your future event. They are familiar with your event’s brand and the sort of high-quality material you generate.

Don’t limit yourself to previous attendees. If you’re hosting an open event and looking to maximize attendance, send out email invites to your entire contact database. 

Take-Aways

Hybrid event integration introduces an elevated status quo. However, it also offers a lot of challenges, and currently has a lot of question marks surrounding it. By leveraging the lessons we’ve learned over the previous 14 months, we can combine the best of in-person and virtual. When executed properly, these events benefit all stakeholders, including organizations, sponsors, and attendees.

As more organizations experiment with this new strategy, the outlines of hybrid or linked events will take shape in the coming months. But one thing is certain: the future of events will be hybrid.

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