It’s been a roller-coaster year, right? Think of all the events you had planned to attend this year and one fine day, all of them turned out cancelled / postponed.
The worst part is, even today, none of us knows when we will get the original feel of physical events. However, the show must go on. That’s why event organizers and managers have been embracing the concept of virtual events. With this concept arose another new team of 2020, ‘hybrid events’
So, What is a Hybrid Event?
For a considerable time from now, the only way ahead will be to conduct virtual events. While that is safer, in some cases, only physical events serve the best way to engage your audience and collect leads. Hybrid events combine the benefits of both virtual and physical events and are a new niche in the event industry.
What are Hybrid Events?
It is highly likely that you would have either attended a class, meeting, webinar, or workshop online this year. What exactly is an example of a virtual event. These events are held completely online through a video sharing tool, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc. These tools have other functionalities that let the event members interact with the host and each other. Some examples of these tools are the chatbox, screen–sharing feature, emojis, raising hands, etc. In a nutshell, virtual events try to bring as much as physical interaction sense to the computers.
Benefits of a Hybrid Event
Well, hybrid events have been happening here and there since as long back as 2012! It’s because of the advantages listed below, which as a whole provides more flexibility to the event organizer.
More Attendees and Reach
Just some time ago, many could not fathom how there could be an event type between in-person and completely online. Well, there absolutely can be, and the answer is Hybrid events.
Since there is also an audience attending virtually, you can reach out to them no matter which part of the work they are present in. That significantly increases the reach of your event.
Also, people consider attending events in – person a major investment of their time. Many of them, as a result, do not register or turn up for the event. So, you can expect the audience you reach to attend online to at least try and log in for a few minutes to see if the content you are providing is worth it. Ultimately, you have more people checking your content, and if they like it, next time, they could be your in-person attendee too!
More Chances of Getting a Sponsor
Hybrid events provide corporations with two benefits. One, the audience they can reach out to is much larger than a pure live event. These corporates can attend the event in – person and interact with in-person attendees and also communicate with the online audience with an online event manager. Two, they have more streams to sponsor. Like, before, they could only sponsor the live event. Now, they can choose to sponsor the live event, the virtual event, the event app, etc. Another advantage for the corporates is that they get more practical data with virtual events which can make them see how well their money was spent.
Reduced Cost and Impact
It’s obvious that global lockdown has impacted the environment positively. Having hybrid events means lesser people travel around for attending the same; thus, the carbon footprint of the people reduces. Also, if the number of people on – site is less, it would also mean fewer disposable materials and waste generation.
Extending this same point, for the attendees, it can save money on their travel. For the corporates too, they can send fewer representatives to the event and rather have people in the online version of the event as well. This benefit is especially impactful now given the budgets of companies are usually tight.
More Useful Data
Since you bring the virtual element to the event, it opens the possibilities for having a whole range of data metrics. You can not only count the number of attendees for an event but also see how long they engaged, their demographics, traffic, interests, participation, etc. all of which can be tracked throughout the event. Use these insights to make your future events better or prove to corporates about your events, having a positive return on investment.
When Should You Host a Hybrid Event?
Creating a successful hybrid event needs brainstorming, planning, and a whole lot of execution. The first step you should take is adding a virtual component to your event makes sense at all? There are some kinds of events which can be held either in – person or online. These include conferences, trade shows, kick-off meetings, music events, literary events, etc.
Next, think from the audience’s perspective. Hybrid events work the best when many of your audiences want to but cannot make it to the event. This could be because of existing restrictions, or there are capacity limits on the site or they have a lesser budget and time to spend on travel.
As an organizer, talk to your potential audience first and understand what they prefer. Then make a choice to whether to add the virtual element to the event or not.
How to Plan and Organize a Successful Hybrid Event?
There are a few specifics that go into creating a successful hybrid event. Here are the most important of them:
[Planning] – Do On-Site Prep Well
There are a number of tiny elements in on-site events that need to be managed beforehand to avoid last-minute hiccups. Make sure the background, lighting are all set – up well in advance. If it is a conference, ensure that the slides and video are prepared. Check the sound and recording system and see if they are working fine with the quality expected.
Talk to your organizer colleagues and give them deadlines for their specific tasks, so that everything can be brought together for a trial run. Make sure everyone knows at least the basics of working with the deployed technology.
[Planning] – Choose the Event Platform
Go through all the available event streaming platforms now, and there are plenty actually. On the whole, they must cover the following features:
- Enable live streaming along with tools to configure and customize the live stream
- Option to purchase tickets, take the amount and store the registration, leads in an accessible database inside the platform.
- Ability to integrate on various social media platforms and E-Mail.
- Options to network among your virtual attendees. It is vital to give them an experience as real as on-site events. Check for platforms that provide chat interactions, networking sessions, etc.
Keep a tech support team handy so that they can address any issue with the virtual platform, immediately.
[Planning] Choose a Single Theme
Do not mix up everything into one hybrid event; it is easy to be lost then. If you want to provide maximum value to your target audience, pick a theme that resonates with them the most. If you do this, you can attract a lot of your target audience who might consider attending your event physically the next time.
[Execution] Keep the Virtual Audience Engaged
Make active attempts to give engagement to the virtual audience. It is easy to keep the drift off them in the presence of a live audience as well. Tip: Form a separate team to interact and entertain the virtual audience.
You can have a Virtual Emcee who will form the connection between the in-person audience and the virtual audience. He/she will convey the rules of the event clearly and accept feedback, questions from the virtual audience.
Offer more interactive content to the virtual audience. For instance, between the breaks, you can organize small Q&A sessions, interviews which can provide great Behind the Scenes content.
On the days leading to the event, actively engage with the online audience by asking them questions, prompting them to talk to you and share about your event in their circles.
[Execution] Stick to the Time, Please!
The thing to keep in mind is the audience attending the event online. Typically, a good broadcast is for around a couple of hours. Try to stick within that time – frame and provide as much engagement you can within this.
[Execution] Keep the Event Flexible
Given COVID times, the most important trait is to be flexible. Do your best to ensure that everything goes as planned and as per schedule. But in case, you have to make some tweaks in the conduction, for instance, moving speakers, cancelling some, adding/removing some subcomponents of the event, communicating with the audience beforehand so that they know what is going on around them. Like this, they can also make a decision for their participation in the event too.
Tools and Software for Organizing and Planning Hybrid Events
Here are some of the top hybrid events tools which you can use. Note that this list is not exhaustive:
This is a browser-based event platform that contains space for displaying slides, an option to enable Q&A, and a video feed. It also provides features where you can create interactive polls during the event, which can help the audience stay engaged and alert.
GEVME Live is a secure platform built from the ground up for digital and hybrid events. It is fully-customizable and provides event organizers with the full suite of tools needed to host professional and polished events online.
This hybrid events software is well known for its intuitive user – interface, round the clock support, and a wide range of features. These features include ticketing facilities, live polling, live chat, AI networking, gamification, virtual exhibitor booths, etc. Event organizers can either stream live from the platform or integrate it with an external streaming platform as well.
This hybrid events management platform lets you network with others online, share your ideas, and provides an overall immersive experience in events. You don’t need to download any software and it is ideally useful for small to medium scale events. Through this platform, you can publish events, manage registrations, connect with sponsors, engage with attendees, enable networking, and so much more.
BigMarker stands out from many others in its field because of the wide array of customizable options it provides that help in hybrid events planning. You can choose from more than 15 event modules to work with, depending on the type of event you have. Apart from that, it has extensive interacting features and options to market it effectively to the target audience.
Hybrid Event Ideas
Much before the COVID pandemic began, many brands had already been embracing hybrid events. Here are some of them that can inspire you to host the next big one:
Apple Launch Events
Apart from the beautiful products they create, Apple is famed for its out – of – the – world launch events. They have a live audience as well as streaming on multiple platforms during a product launch. This streaming is watched by hundreds of millions worldwide. An Apple Event is a dream for every tech enthusiast and serves as the source of innovation for them. If you are an event organizer, observe how smoothly and efficiently they balance out the event to provide maximum engagement for both live and virtual audiences.
INBOUND by Hubspot
Like the previous one was a treat for developers, this one is for the marketers. The event sees discussion and sharing of brand-new marketing tactics ideas from the top marketing junkies from around the world. The attendees of INBOUND are provided with not only insights from top industry professionals, but also are entertained with top performers from the music and stand – up comedy world. Take inspiration from how they mix entertainment and information to produce an event that can engage a wide range of target audiences.
The Self-Publishing Show Live
This event is specifically targeted at an audience who want to self–publish their work. In the first year of the event itself, almost 1000 people attended, but many could not make it due to their personal constraints. Seeing this, the event organizers made available the recorded version of the live event for a small fee. They even return your money back if you felt the content was not up to your expectations.
The Yellow Conference
The conference is aimed at women who create work that is meaningful and impactful. This event is held separately for the in-person audience and virtual audiences. Most important reason why this way of event is popular is because it knows its target audience very well, and creates specific experiences for them during the event to engage and entertain.
Hybrid events are definitely the future. It has its own set of benefits of Hybrid Event for the attendee and the organizer, which can see it sustain even after the Pandemic reduces and in-person events are allowed to happen. If you are an organizer, embrace this rapidly growing event form and customize it however, you want to create engaging and memorable events. The resources and knowledge about the same are aplenty, and overall, it’s exciting.