Hybrid events aren’t a new concept; however, these events have existed for a while now and have come to be known worldwide recently during the ongoing pandemic. Most companies didn’t sort to have virtual meetings or work from home. Still, we noticed that a significant number of people began to like virtual meetings and virtual events mainly because it gave them the flexibility of location.
While physical events are not going to disappear, hybrid events proved to be so much more advantageous than a physical event because of the significant decrease in the cost of Travel, venue charges, accommodation, food and beverage, health and safety, etc.
There is often a misconception that virtual events only require laptops and one man to run the entire show. This assumption, however, is not at all correct. While hosting a hybrid event will not have the hassle of having several crew members running around ensuring that everything is in place, it sure does have a crew working behind the scenes making sure that everything at the event is working fine. Yes, you heard this right.
You will need a crew of people to help in the event’s success, from marketing to conducting and managing the event, taking care of the speakers, making sure that everything is going as per what is planned in the schedule, etc. Below, we will discuss all that we need to know to host a successful hybrid event.
What are Hybrid Events?
Hybrid events are events that contain the elements of a physical event and a digital event. At a hybrid event, you will have an audience physically attending an event at the event’s primary location and an audience that will be live streaming the event from elsewhere.
The hybrid event provides geographical convenience to those attending the event from overseas. For a hybrid event, the physical and virtual audience can participate in the interactive quizzes and polls and ask the panel questions in the virtual chat section. A moderator takes care of the virtual chat platform to attend to any virtual audience queries in the chatroom. The virtual audience can access the platform online through the company website or the event app.
The Benefits of Hosting a Hybrid Event
If it weren’t for the compulsion of staying at home, most companies wouldn’t have opted for virtual meetings. The demand for virtual events simultaneously led to an increase in having virtual events, which eventually led to hybrid events’ popularity.
Due to the pandemic, there is now a limit on the number of people that can attend events, and the next best way to reach out to the people who could not physically attend the event was to stream the vent live from a virtual platform.
An event can be streamed from various social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitch. However, what about when you want to stream the event to only a selected few.
Hosting a virtual or a hybrid event is mostly done to avoid geographical barriers and several other circumstances that hold us back from connecting, like the ongoing pandemic. Hosting a hybrid event has several advantages, out of which the top six benefits are listed below.
1.Increased Reach and Attendance
One of the positive things about technology is that it has helped us connect with people worldwide. It has also made the hindrance of geographical barriers disappear and brought people closer. Only with the use of this advancement in technology, we have been able to live stream events online.
Many people find it convenient to attend events online because of various reasons like travel costs, they may have children to take care of, and some want to reduce their carbon footprint. By streaming an event online, you can get more people to attend your event, especially attendees attending the event overseas.
2. Increased Engagement
When you are hosting a hybrid event, the most crucial aspect is that you want to make sure that your onsite and online audiences are engaged with the content and activities in the given event. By hosting a hybrid event, you can organize games, polls, and QnA’s that help both your audiences participate and keep them engaged throughout the event.
3. Significant Reduction in Environmental Impact & Costs
Hosting a hybrid event will give your company a good outlook because not only does your company use an innovative way to conduct its events, but it is also environmentally conscious.
Hosting a hybrid event lessens the cost involved in Travel. If you usually arrange a stay for your overseas audience, that cost will be struck out there. The company will not incur the additional charge of refreshments; there will be less food wasted, which is so much more economical and convenient.
4. Reduction of Costs
One of the many benefits of hybrid events is the reduced amount of cost involved in various areas. This consists of the cost of booking a larger venue, the cost of food and beverage, health and hygiene, etc. Since most of the people will be attending the event from home, and only a handful at the event’s primary location, the cost incurred usually will be reduced significantly. Regarding marketing as well, digital marketing of the event will be more profitable and will also give a better outcome.
5. Data Collection
An essential aspect of conducting a hybrid event is the data collected during this process. Right from the marketing process, checking the number of people who interacted with your content marketing, how they found your landing page, the number of people who registered, their gender, ethnicity, how many of these people turned up for your event, etc. The advantage of hosting a hybrid event is getting access to this data that you would have otherwise not obtained access to otherwise.
6. Greater Flexibility
Another major significance of hosting a hybrid event is that a hybrid event gives people the flexibility to attend the event in their own time. Sometimes people tend to miss out on attending an event. Uploading a recorded live stream of the event can give people the convenience of watching the event as per their convenience. In this way, your event will be out there for people to watch whenever they want.
Types of Hybrid Events
Every event is conducted for a different set of purposes, and hence the audience type will not always be the same. Events can be classified into two types, external events, and internal events.
Every event has different sets of schedules, and the event hosted has to be done keeping this schedule in mind. Knowing what your event is about and for whom it is for will help you identify the audience and prepare your event in a manner that will serve your audience better. In this way, you can ensure the fluidity of information without going off-topic and stay put and fit your target audience well.
External Events are those organized mainly for the general public, customers, potential customers, etc. These events can help reach out to a broad spectrum of audiences and convert them into future customers for your business. Examples of External events are;
- Virtual conferences and trade shows
- Product demonstration
- Virtual exhibitions
Unlike external events, internal events are conducted for the company’s in-house people, like its members, shareholders, sponsors, employees, etc. This event is restricted to the members of the organization Examples of these events are as follows.
- Trade Shows
- Sales Kickoffs
- Global Town Halls
What is the difference, and when should you host a hybrid event?
What is the difference?
A hybrid event is different from a virtual event or a physical event. We are all accustomed to a physical event and are familiar with the conduct of a virtual event. However, a hybrid event is one that will consist of the elements of both these events.
A hybrid event will have a handful of people attending the event at the event’s physical location. It will also consist of a platform where this event will be live-streamed to the rest of the people in different geographical areas.
By incorporating two different styles of conducting an event, hybrid events bring out the positives of both types of events. It brings out the element of people coming together and having different minds discuss one topic at a given place. It allows the benefits of getting in more people and incorporating activities that both the audiences can benefit from.
When should you host a hybrid event?
While hybrid events have several advantages, hosting them every single time can waste time, money, and effort. There are several determinants to be taken into consideration when hosting a hybrid event. There are several scenarios when hosting a hybrid event can come into handy. Several such reasons are listed below.
Big crowd: There is a huge crowd going to attend your event, and the venue is not big enough to accommodate all. Hosting a hybrid event will also cut down on the travel cost and reduce the amount of carbon footprint, reducing the number of harmful effects caused to the environment.
Travel restrictions: In case of travel restrictions to a particular country due to reasons like a trade war or a pandemic; in this case, hybrid events can always come to the rescue. However, it is advised to look into adherence to any legal frameworks or firewalls before conducting an event overseas.
Pandemic: This point is something that we can all relate to. Pandemic was the main reason for hybrid events to become a hit in 2020. When there is a pandemic, it is always safest to continue keeping up with physical distancing and allow only a handful of people attend the event at the venue; this too shall comprise of the necessary people attending the event like the technical crew, the host, and the speakers for the event.
Home chores, family, and children: Often, people have other duties scheduled on the same day as the event. Even if they want to attend the event, they cannot participate in the event because of prior commitments at home. In this case, the site where the hybrid event is live-streamed can also upload the recording of the same event so that those who missed out on the event can attend it when it’s possible for them.
The Core elements of hybrid events, its Goals, and Advantages
Before going ahead with an event, it is essential to figure out who your audience is and the influence you want to have on them. You need to figure out what your event will consist of and what you want to achieve through it. Once you have recognized these things, conducting your event is going to be much simpler.
Key elements of hybrid events
Following are the key elements to consider before going ahead and conducting your event.
One of the key elements of any event is its content. The primary reason your attendees are at your event and not elsewhere while they could be doing anything else rather than spending money and coming to your event is because of what your event has to offer. They will be there for the content, the people, and the connections they will be making at your event. People are ready to travel across the world because they understand the value of the exclusive content they will have access to by attending your event. Your content is everything! Ensure that your speakers are trained and speak what is required without drifting away from the topic too much. The website interface and your virtual lounges experience must be engaging to keep your online audience at the event. The online experience also has to be as personalized as possible.
Ensuring that your marketing of the event is not only appropriately done but effectively is essential. The paramount importance of digital marketing is the insights of the people engaging with your advertisements. Your event’s marketing quality is vital because your marketing is just the trailer of what your audience is in for on the event’s primary day. People consume more time on their phones now than ever. Several businesses are fighting for the attention of these potential audiences. The competition to attract these eyeballs has increased significantly over time, so you have to ensure that your ad stands out from all of it to increase the audience’s turnover.
The people coming for your event should be given an option to register for your event. The importance of having people register for your event is that this is the best way to collect new email ids. Secondly, you can also track where these people came from, how they found out about your event, and details like their gender and ethnicity. These basic things will help you serve your people better and provide you with the necessary data about how your ads are doing and how countries and people are performing the best. These insights can help you plan and budget your future ads by spending less in places that don’t work and more in areas where they work out.
You can provide an appointment scheduling service for your attendees so that they can conveniently schedule a meeting with your crew members to help them out with any queries. Giving your audience the option to get in touch with your company and attend to their questions will help you develop a credible relationship with your audience. Remember, the events industry to serve the people and provide them with good experiences. It is hence vital to ensure that your attendees have no problem at any stage whatsoever.
Hybrid Event Goals
Identifying your event’s goal and what you want to achieve through it is essential. Goal setting will help you plan out the topics that you want to touch upon at your event. This will help you prepare a framework and deliver the message to your audience in the most optimal way possible.
Advantages of Hybrid Events
Hybrid events are famous because of the convenience of time and location that it gives to the people. However, there are certain other advantages that these events provide but are often overlooked. Following are such advantages.
You have more people now than ever scrolling through their Instagram and Facebook feed, more people ordering food, clothes, and groceries online, more people using their cell phones to stream movies, order cabs, and the list goes on. People are hooked onto their devices now more than ever.
While attending an event physically still hasn’t come to an end, neither will it in the future because the necessary human connection is so much more important. Many people who otherwise wouldn’t attend the event because of financial, transportation, and geographical reasons, can attend the event no matter which country they are in. Of course, they may have to pay a certain amount to access the event, but they won’t have to deal with the costs involved in Travel and accommodation.
Due to the pandemic, we notice that the travel demand dropped significantly, and people couldn’t. Many didn’t want to get out of their homes for safety purposes, which led to increased online meetings and virtual events.
The advantage of hosting a hybrid event is that even your overseas audience can attend this event—these open doors for more people attending your event who otherwise weren’t able to do so physically.
Enhanced Content engagement:
“Content is King.” As cliché as it sounds, it is the truth that we have to drill in our heads. This is the one phrase that has to be of utmost importance to us. Deep thinking into what content we are going to put out to our audience is essential. Your content should be your everything. Your content is something that will either make or break your event.
You have people from across the world who are ready to pay to attend your event, and it should be your primary job to give them what they came for and more. When you are having a hybrid event, you have to make sure that your speakers are ready and that what they are speaking is apt. Unlike in a physical event, the speakers can be themselves, and they often deviate from the topic. While the speaker still can be themselves for a hybrid event, deviating from the subject can be time-consuming, and your virtual audience can even leave the event if it exceeds that given time slot.
The speakers have to be ready with presentations that will keep the audience hooked and, at the same time, provide an incredible amount of value to them, making their time spent at your event worthwhile.
Increased sponsorship value:
Hybrid events platforms can provide more value to your sponsors than a physical event ever could. The main advantages of a hybrid event is that it can attract many people to attend the event online. You can also upload a recording of your event on the platform and keep it there so that people can view the recording of your event wherever they want. All these advantages that hybrid events have to offer will attract more sponsorship because of the increased value your event will give their brands.
How to run a successful hybrid event
Choose an Interesting Theme and Content for your event
Take some time to think about what you want to achieve through your event. What will make your event stand out is to come up with a theme yearly and revolve your content on that theme, for example. Web in Travel organizes an event for businesses and people within the travel industry to connect and discuss everything related to the travel industry’s world. For the year 2020, their theme was the title ‘Back to the Future.’ Now due to the pandemic, Web in Travel took its event hybrid. The theme was interesting enough to keep the audience curious about what the event will consist of. Observing a different theme every year can boost your audience turnover.
Define your online event goals
Defining your event goals will give you a clear path about the content that you wish to incorporate for your event and where you want to take your audience on that journey. Identifying your event goals also helps you polish the content you want to deliver to your audience to impact each person attending the event.
Choosing an event format
Choosing a format for your event will help you have a proper structure for your event. Having a form will also help your teammates know what they are doing, who is supposed to report to who, etc. Make sure at any given point in time, one person has just one head to report. This will create less hassle. Create a time table and make sure that everyone is kept informed about the next sub-event set. Creating a proper composition will help everyone working to be on the same page and reduce confusion.
Decide on the scope and plan of your event.
When we decide upon having an event, it is always to go in with your event plan. Having a plan for your event will keep everyone on the team informed about what needs to be planned and achieved through your event. The vital part of any event is your speakers. Ensuring that everything is timed correctly, that the speakers are adequately trained, and do not exceed the time limit is essential. Having a pre-event rehearsal will help you figure out any downfalls for your event.
Choose a suitable virtual and hybrid event platform.
When you decide upon conducting a hybrid event, you must choose the best platform to deliver an excellent experience to your audience. This is crucial because what your audience will take away from your event is the experience. Finding a platform that will cater specifically to your event needs and help you keep your audience engaged throughout the event is essential—companies like GEVME design a personalized digital venue for companies to host their virtual events.
Come up with imaginative ways to engage your audience.
Bringing together all the people is the best part of any event and is your first task. Your next mission, however, is to keep your audience engaged. Have you ever been to a party that you might have been invited to because the host is a good friend of yours and he/she doesn’t plan any games or anything fun for that matter and the party is so dull that all you want to do is go home and sleep? Well, don’t ever be that kind of a host. You will always want to be at an event where you get along with others, find people who share the same interests, and most importantly, have activities that everyone can be a part of. This is the purpose of an event, to give your audience a good time and have them all involved in it. You can conduct polls, quizzes, games for which the winner is announced at the end, competitions; this can be done by having people participate online. You can think about the activities that make your event stand out and speak to your event manager and incorporate that for your virtual audience to join in. You should also have a session where you address the queries of your virtual attendees.
Keep sessions short and the pace fast to hold attention.
Remember that you have an audience attending your event online and that it is impossible to keep them glaring at the screen the whole day long. You have to make sure that your sessions are timed and that your speakers are well prepared to touch the relevant topics. A slow-moving event will bore your audience. Keeping your online audience is more of a task than keeping your onsite audience because you can lose them if they begin to lose interest in the event. Ensure that your event’s content stirs curiosity in your audience and at the same time is not prolonged to bore them.
Inviting and managing event speakers
The speakers that you prefer to invite to your event are essential. These are the people with experience and the ones who will bring about valuable discussion to the table. You can invite your speakers and disclose who your speakers for the event will be in advance to your audience, or you can even invite guest speakers for your audience and disclose it on the spot. The second thing is to train and manage your event speakers. Having a pre-event rehearsal will enable your speakers to identify how to go about with their presentations in the best way while also keeping track of the time.
Promoting your hybrid event
Before the primary day of your event, it all depends upon the promotion of your event. Imagine a movie getting released without informing the public about its premier. The people will have no clue what the film is about and may or may not spend money to watch that without knowing what it is about. Similarly, the marketing of your event is essential. Give your audience a glimpse of your event. Start creating a hype about it over social media by using innovative videos, ad copy, and messages to grasp your audience’s attention. You can also create hype about who the speakers for your event are going to be. Promoting your event before the primary day of the event is essential, and it has to be done amazingly well. Make sure that your marketing team put on their thinking caps and get going on this one.
Let’s face it; organizing an event is not a small task. Remember that you are organizing an event, and even if it is hybrid, you have to be prepared for any unforeseen change that can come on the spot. Making sure that everything is happening according to what is planned is essential, no doubt; however, it is also inevitable to make sure that you remain flexible throughout the event to accommodate any last-minute changes. Train yourself to be flexible mentally and enjoy the process.
Examples of Successful Hybrid events
Hybrid events have been happening over a couple of years in the past. They, however, have gained popularity recently and have also got more people liking this concept. Following are examples of eight different hybrid events that you can go through. Each of these events has its unique selling point, and their audience loves them for that.
Apple Special Events:
Apple Special Events is a yearly event where Apple launches its new products and accessories, product redesigns, upgrades, etc., through press conferences. The buzz is usually kept secret and is only disclosed at the event. This event is streamed live on YouTube and Apple’s website.
Webinar World is a conference held yearly and claims to be the only event globally that discusses all webinar marketing and driving better digital experiences.
Public Health Informatics Conference:
The Public Health Informatics Conference is an international conference organized for the researchers, leading academic scientists, scholars, etc. in the field of medicine, public health, and healthcare to come together and discuss recent innovation, concerns, and trends in Healthcare, Public Health Informatics Conference and Medicine.
Social Media Marketing World:
You will see some of the best speakers worldwide in the field of social media marketing coming together and sharing actionable tips, strategies for content marketing, video marketing, analytics, etc. Now wouldn’t content creators want to learn something from these people?
The Self-Publishing Show:
Mark Dawson is a successful self-published author and, in his event, The Self-Publishing Show, Dawson helps writers start their career in writing and get paid for it. This event is quite a hit.
If you are a gamer or know of a person who is a die-hard fan of gaming and live-streaming, you may have heard of Twitch. Twitchcon is a convention that occurs twice a year and is centred around the video game streaming culture. Twitchcon allows fans to meet other streamers and content creators at Twitchcon.
ABM Innovation Summit:
The ABM summit is mainly for B2B marketers. The seminar discusses and celebrates people having innovative success in the business field. It also provides insights from the industry and new technologies coming up.
Inbound is an annual marketing conference where business owners, sales professionals, and marketers come together to share their passion for selling, marketing, and delighting customers.
The future of the events industry
After analyzing the benefits that hybrid events can bring about, there is no turning back from here. While physical events won’t disappear completely, we know that the integration of virtual and physical events are the best combination that there is out there.
Hybrid events will allow people to choose between attending a physical or an online event, thus creating a hybrid audience. Several technologies made up of artificial intelligence, and virtual reality will make the user’s experience at the event more interesting than before.
Technology will play an important part in the events industry in the future. The events industry always has been known as the people’s industry. The fundamental goal of an events management company is to provide optimal service to its clients. Hence, the competition in the events industry has just begun to get tougher. The industry will be more in need of people who are excellent at web-based engagement tools.
While the position that one used to hold in the industry depended on one’s experience in terms of years of working in the industry, now, it will be based more upon how skilled one is with regards to technology in the upcoming years. One has to now think about how they can make themselves useful in this industry by training themselves with the skillset to help their company be more competitive.
There will be more engagement between the audience and the speakers with the help of hybrid conferences. With the increased value received by the sponsors, there will be more sponsorship money coming in. The sponsors, too, will be able to engage with the audience over the virtual platforms. This will give the sponsors value for the money they invested in your event. Hence, this is a win-win situation for your company as well as your sponsors.
In the future, companies will continue to fight for clients, but this time, the competition will be more challenging. Hence your company will have to focus on providing quality content and quality service in every area of your event. A company will have to focus on its unique selling point and how it can make a difference and provide its audiences with personalized experiences in the post-COVID world.
Now more than ever, data and having access to insights and analytics is divine and vital—he who has access to the numbers wins. Hybrid events will enable us to track everything, giving the company a better overall view of its performance. And how people are engaging with them.
We now should be used to adapting to this new world and era that we are entering this time. The change is happening too quickly, yes—however, those who let this opportunity pass may never get this again.
We are still at a stage where all the industry companies are just getting started all over again. There will be innovations, new rules, and more engagement than ever before. The competition has already increased, and only those who adapt to this change will survive.
Physical events are not going anywhere and will always be there. However, those who always wanted to attend an event from home, a solution to that is now available. The industry is about continuous growth, where one has to learn continuously.
Technology has begun to take this industry to a whole new level. Despite all the changes that will come in the future, one thing will forever remain the same, creating good experiences for the customer.