Hybrid events are predicted to be one of the biggest event trends of the upcoming years. Hybrid events are known for combining a typical “live” in-person event with a “virtual” online one. 

Hybrid events are gaining popularity as technology becomes more accessible. For someone planning to host a hybrid event for the first time, a simple web stream of your live presentation won’t yield the same results as an engaging immersive cross-channel experience can. You potentially need to work harder in order to hold the attention of virtual delegates. Also to compete against the distractions of the home or work environment is not an easy job. 

If you are an event manager planning your first hybrid event, there are a variety of directions to follow. But not all directions are meant for you. It is important to think carefully when it comes to communicating effectively and engaging with remote as well as physically present participants. This post is specially designed to direct you on the right path without missing any perk of hybrid events. 

What is a Hybrid Event?

Let’s start with the basic definition of a hybrid event. In simple words, hybrid events combine a live in-person event with a virtual event. Depending on your event goal, there are lots of ways this could play out.

Regardless, a successful hybrid event is one that integrates the physical in-person component seamlessly with the virtual audience. Both the virtual and in-person attendees should be able to engage with each other, listen to speakers, participate in activities, and network in a better way.

The most important point to keep in mind is that a hybrid event is not always a simple live stream of an event to an online audience. A hybrid setup can combine the best of both types of events. As a result, it creates a truly engaging and interactive experience regardless of the attendee’s location. 

Why Transition to a Hybrid Event?

At this point, you might be thinking this whole thing sounds a bit complicated. Why not just go for a simple virtual event? Well, there is no denying that virtual events offer tremendous value to the hosts. Also, there are many situations where a strictly virtual event makes better sense. But when it comes to hosting hybrid events, it brings the benefits that in-person events offer, capitalizing on the value of virtual at the same time. In short, it is the best of both worlds. 

Here’s what you need to know before beginning with your hybrid events journey: 

Get Ready for More Engagement

When done the right way, hybrid events allow both types of audiences to connect and participate. As a result, you enjoy more engagement and interactivity as compared to a strictly virtual event.

Enjoy Better Flexibility

By choosing to host a hybrid event, you open up the possibility for an audience type who might have last-minute plan changes. Also, they would otherwise cancel. Hybrid events offer flexibility and put less stress on your audience. 

Increase in Reach

We know that this pandemic life will go back to normal. In-person events will be back but there will always be someone who can’t attend the physical event for one reason or another. Whether your event is too far for them, or they just have another conflict. To spend the reach, you can always offer a virtual option to an in-person event. This allows those to still attend and thus engage with your brand who might otherwise skip your event completely. 

Reduction in Cost

Planning to host a hybrid event for the first time can free up significant event costs. Imagine if half of your attendees are planning on attending virtually, a whole lot of food and space is already down. Also, travel costs are another major expense that you don’t have to pay for.

Enjoy Evergreen Value

With the help of a hybrid event, you can easily create a full video library of recordings out of your event. All you need to do is simply include slides, online Q&A’s speaker recordings, etc. You can also archive it on your website or even give access to the audience for years to come. You can even go back and repurpose event content. This can be later shared on social media, via email marketing, or you can even create blog posts or website content.

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Tips for Hosting Your First Hybrid Event

Now that you know what a hybrid event is and why it’s valuable, it’s time to get into the real stuff. If you’re wondering how exactly do you host one? Continue scrolling as we have put together this hybrid event checklist, broken down into the before, during, and after stages. Follow these tips to host your first and best event. 

Before The Hybrid Event

1. Set a Budget

Every event comes with a price. Virtual events received hype because they allowed major cost savings to businesses, brands, along event planners like you. There’s indeed a lot of extra room for event marketing without the expenses of a physical venue or hosting attendees in-person. In hybrid events, you will need to set up a budget for both the in-person and virtual portions. 

Budgeting for two portions doesn’t mean that a hybrid event is still going to break the bank. There’s a lot of room for cost savings. Wondering how? You won’t have to invest in a bigger space for a venue. With limiting the size, you won’t have to spend on refreshments. No need to spend on live entertainment either. Plus, you can invite more people to your event with an expanded reach. This opens the potential for better liquidity from ticket sales. 

Hybrid events will only require using a virtual event platform plus investing in video streaming technology. You will have the live venue, event swag or virtual event swag boxes, and possibly travel costs for speakers. 

2. Create a Balanced Agenda

Hybrid events strictly revolve around balance. You have two different kinds of audiences with two different needs. To make your first hybrid event successful, it is important to find the common ground between the two audiences. You can start by defining what each audience type wants from their event experience. 

In-person Audience

When it comes to engagement, in-person audiences won’t need as much hand-holding. They will likely be excited and ready to participate as well as connect with others. They might not need as many breaks and they will be more focused on invited speakers or presenters. 

Virtual Audience

On the other hand, the biggest need for a virtual audience is the need to keep them engaged during the same presentations the in-person audiences are watching. The virtual audience will usually prefer precise and easy-to-digest content. This audience type will need more attention when in terms of engagement. You can do this by adding interactive features to the presentation, like live polling, Q&A, etc. Even other feedback mechanisms are always really useful in this sense.

Also, they will likely be multitasking during your event. They might need more breaks as compared to the other group. Virtual audiences will be less inclined to network unless promoted. 

Your job is to offer a select amount of sessions to both types of audiences. During these sessions, it is highly recommended to keep interaction the main focus. You can offer Q&A portions of each segment, and come up with other creative ways to engage both groups. 

The bottom line to keep in mind is to find the perfect balance when setting your agenda. 

3. Create Event Buzz

Just like any other event, you want to get people excited about your hybrid event. The more excited they are, the more likely they will engage with each other. As a result, your audience will feel a better overall connection.

Creating an event buzz also greatly helps in spreading brand awareness. Especially through social media. The excited attendees will spread the word via their own private channels. This could lead to your brand introduction to someone new. 

Below are a few top ideas that will help create event buzz for your first hybrid event: 

  • You can create an event hashtag. 
  • Also, create an event page on your social platforms. 
  • You can also add a countdown clock to your website/ email campaigns. 
  • Try sharing unboxing videos. 
  • You can also create a hype video or an event trailer. 

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During The Hybrid Event

1. Host Speakers On-Site

Hybrid events give you the option to have your speakers remote and on-site, both. It is highly suggested to have any speakers, panels, educational sessions, etc. live with your in-person audience. 

Why is it essential? 

First, and foremost, doing so makes your brand look more professional. When you have speakers on the stage, with your company or event logo in the background, it gives more than expected credibility to your speakers. When speakers are on stage, the energy and interaction is on another level. Your virtual audience will appreciate it a lot. This is because it helps them feel more connected. 

2. Connect the Online & In-person Audience

This can be tough but a critical step. It is important to find a way to connect your two-segmented audiences if you want to truly capitalize on the benefits a hybrid event offers. One of the main reasons people attend events is the networking aspect. By bridging the gap between the online and in-person audiences, you’ll be able to create a much more valuable experience for them. 

Luckily, this is the point where your hybrid event platform comes in handy. The best software will come up with a variety of avenues when it comes to engagement for both audiences. This can be availed in various forms such as live polling, direct messaging, chat rooms, digital business card exchanging, virtual booths for sponsors and exhibits, and much more.

Make sure both audiences find value in these engagement methods.

3. Use Social Media to Encourage Engagement

One of the best tools before, during, and after your event is social media. During your hybrid event, it can be utilized to encourage engagement amongst both sides of your audience. 

This can be done by:

  • Hosting a social media wall where live and virtual attendees can share their photos, tweets, and other posts
  • Offering a photo booth within your virtual and physical events. It will offer digital photos your attendees can share (frames, backgrounds, and stickers from these photos can be customized to show their event logo, venue, etc).
  • Send online attendees an event swag box to encourage them to share their experience with their networks. 
  • Asking them to post comments and join in on any group conversation.
  • Also, posting LinkedIn polls asking people about their experience.

After The Hybrid Event

1. Create a Video Library

You will want to capitalize on one of the biggest advantages of the virtual part of your hybrid event, right after it ends. To do so, you need to ensure that all the recorded content is evergreen. It must be housed in a place where it can be used long even after the event is over. 

vFairs allow you to create a space where you can easily share resources and store your recorded videos. 

2. Analyze the Success of Your Hybrid Event

Now that everything has been said and done, it’s time to sit down and dig into the metrics of your first hybrid event. One of the best things about having a hybrid event platform is that it offers the easiest analytical process. The virtual system tracks behavior such as registration, downloads, login, chat, views, and shares. Now your job is to put some context behind these metrics. It can be used to plan your follow-up strategy or even as a guide for your second hybrid event agenda. 

It is important to pay special attention to the engagement level of each attendee when analyzing these metrics.

3. Follow Up With Both Attendee Groups

The best ending practice with any type of event is to thank your attendees. This is an essential step that should not be skipped at any cost. As a hybrid event host, you should also never miss this. Oftentimes this can be one of the most valuable parts of the whole hybrid event experience. 

You’ve just provided an exceptional educational experience to your attendees. You also gave them a chance to truly connect with your brand. Now, it’s high time to follow through and encourage your audience to take the next step with your brand. That’s how you end things the right way. 

Conclusion

It is important to keep in mind that even as in-person events return to normal, our audience and their priorities have changed. The virtual world has completely changed the events’ perspective forever. Audiences are now expecting their brands to offer more options and flexibility. So it’s a critical time you learn about your first hybrid event process and begin fine-tuning your strategy. 

When you have the right tools and knowledge that is more accessible than ever, planning hybrid events isn’t too difficult. Although it seems like a challenge, hybrid events are worth stepping into when it comes to extended reach and increased opportunity to connect for both your audience as well as your brand. 

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