Virtual and hybrid events are here to stay. While the meetings and events industry eagerly anticipates the return of in-person events, the trend of hosting events online has created innovative options to enhance the on-site experience of the future.
From immersive event design and video production to cutting edge platform features that increase global reach and audience size, event technology has taken a big leap forward. If you’re wondering how to plan a hybrid event, here’s everything you need to know about this trend that’s quickly becoming the new normal in event planning.
What Is a Hybrid Event?
A hybrid event is an event that combines aspects of a face-to-face event with some of the most popular virtual components found in online events. These events combine the best of both worlds, providing unique experiences for both in-person and remote attendees.
The most successful hybrid events offer benefits to both event planners and the attendees. In addition to an expertly executed on-site show, a virtual component could include live or recorded portions of keynote speeches or special performances, as well as exclusive content for online guests, like online networking sessions, product demos, polling and gamification.
Benefits of Hybrid Events
In-person events and their virtual counterparts each have their own benefits, but hybrid events offer some of the advantages of each. Some of the main benefits of going hybrid include:
- Increased reach: With the hybrid option, you’ll be able to retain your in-person crowd while attracting other attendees who may not have the ability or means to travel and attend the event in person. You can expand your reach to those who may live very far away from your event, even in other countries, or to those who would not otherwise be able to travel due to health concerns or costs.
- More engagement options: You can livestream guest speakers and meetings so both in-person and online participants can see them, and then make content available on demand after the event. These sessions can be re-watched as many times as attendees like, keeping your content in mind long after the actual event concludes.
- Greater value for sponsors: The sponsors and vendors of your event have the opportunity to reach in-person attendees as well as a much larger audience at home. This gives added value to your event partners, as they can enjoy greater brand exposure than previously possible. More exposure for sponsors, more sponsorship revenue for your organization. We call that a win-win.
- Lower carbon footprint: With more people opting to attend online, you reduce the environmental impact of traveling, as well as food and disposables like samples, promotional materials, paper and more. Your event can be seen as more environmentally conscious with the option for hybrid events.
Tips for Hosting Hybrid Events
If you’re planning to host a hybrid event, keep these tips and ideas top of mind to ensure you have the most successful event possible:
1. Keep All Attendees in Mind
Plan for both your in-person and virtual attendees, and consider the experiences of each. Plan for content that is relevant to each group and easily accessible. This may include creating separate sessions and content for your online attendees, but try to keep everything cohesive and part of the same larger event. Also, consider using virtual emcees devoted to online members. Virtual emcees can introduce content, answer questions, direct attendees to specific sessions or facilitate group sessions.
2. Make Your Content Engaging
Planning for in-person engagement can be a little easier, but make sure you engage your virtual listeners too. Provide opportunities for questions and answers, live polls, small group sessions and more to keep everyone active and engaged. Keep speeches and other sessions to short, digestible portions to keep online viewers involved and interested.
3. Be Mindful of Different Time Zones
If you have live or other scheduled portions of your event, be aware that people may be tuning in from different time zones. A specific meeting time on the east coast may not be very convenient to those on the west coast, and vice versa. And if your event has gone global, this is even more important. There are a couple of options to get around this. One way is by providing more on-demand content, allowing attendees to tune in whenever it is convenient for them. Or, some savvier hybrid event solutions are able to customize recorded or live messages that synchronize seamlessly with the timezone.
4. Use High-Quality Production
The branding and audiovisual components of any successful event should be top-notch, but it’s even more important for hybrid event planning. Use branding, decor and colors to provide a cohesive look to the entire event, including on-site aspects as well as websites, apps and other materials. Good lighting and sound quality enhance presentations for both types of audiences.
Use professional production, especially for keynote speakers and important sessions, so those watching from home experience a high-quality event just like being there in person.
Make sure your streaming speed and platforms are built with enough power to handle all your at-home participants and invest in high-quality support to add to the virtual experience. With online events exploding in popularity, there have been an influx of virtual platform providers, all of which are not created equally. Consider the level of service and customization that is important to the success of your event.
5. Consider Regional Pop-Up Events
You can really take your hybrid event to the next level by hosting smaller regional hubs, so more people can attend parts in person and not have to travel as far. They’ll get the benefit of in-person networking while watching keynote addresses and other main events together. Networking and smaller group sessions can be further tailored to the needs of each region.
6. Gather Feedback
After your event, survey both in-person and virtual participants, and use these results in combination with online analytics to determine what the most successful aspects of the event were. Use this information to help you improve the next event even more. Follow up with participants and share some interesting findings from your surveys and attendance analytics.
7. Keep the Community Involved
Don’t lose momentum after your event is over. Continue to provide engaging content on your website or app, and provide opportunities for event participants to connect with others, network and discuss the event. Provide links to connect with key sponsors, exhibitors or vendors. Generate buzz for your next event and keep people interested.
Consider Event Solutions From CNTV
No matter what type of event you’re planning, CNTV has solutions that can help. We are award-winning virtual and hybrid event experts with years of experience, bringing polish and professionalism to conferences, exhibitions, trade shows and other events. Take your hybrid event to the next level with our virtual event management and video production. Contact us today to get started on your next hybrid event.