It’s a great thing to organize a hybrid event, but have you ever thought about how it feels to actually attend one? We all know those doodles you draw all over your notepaper during an annoying conference. Today, you’ll learn how to organize a good event that people would love to be part of. Let’s go!
Maybe you’re sitting here and thinking – wait a minute, what is a hybrid event?! Simple answer: it’s something between an offline and a virtual event. A hybrid event is an in-person event with a reach into the digital world. You can attend a hybrid event either in the flesh to enjoy face-to-face contact, or via modern technologies from the comfort of your living room. Easy!
But what is the point of all this? Believe it or not, the future of hybrid events is bright. Hybrid events have been held for many years before they became popular. The pandemic just poured a high-octane fuel into the flames of event transformation.
So many new terms have emerged with the recent boom that you might appreciate our virtual event vocabulary that every event manager should know.
When events and public gatherings disappeared overnight, hybrid events were the only safe way to organize any public gathering – which is the origin of the popularity that hybrid events are receiving since then.
Interestingly, even though the situation is getting better, the virtual forms of meetings are sticking with us, as our event industry report from 2021 confirmed. The main reasons are their scalability, profitability, and increased reach.
Let’s call it an evolution, shall we?
✅ PROS of hybrid events
➕ Reach out to more people – As it was said, with hybrid events you are able to reach out to both worlds – the real one and the virtual one. Naturally, this increases the number of people that can attend your event. So if someone’s not in town and wouldn’t make it on time, he or she can just connect via an app. And if your event is held in English, this number becomes almost unlimited.
➕ Attract more sponsors – Sponsorship is not all about the money, it also helps you gain publicity, target communities, and drive value to your event. It’s connected to the first advantage because if you reach more people, getting sponsors will be much easier too.
➕ Create content that lasts – When you record all the keynotes and focus groups in order to stream them in real-time, you are just one step from transforming all the valuable content, thoughts, and tips into something that will last forever. Think about the YouTube library of best speeches, extra content for your social media, blog, or landing pages.
➕ Event safety – And we mean both, the safety of your attendants as well as the safety of your income. The only way to organize events at the peak of the Covid era was virtual. If your work depends on it, you had no other choice. Now that the situation has loosened, hybrid events are ideal for maintaining (if not increasing) the reach while ensuring a safe environment for everyone.
➕ Higher value – With the hybrid event, you can easily invite basically anyone. No time wasted flying around the globe, no extra costs for accommodation. Invite the worldwide recognized celebrities in your field and boost the value of your event in the eyes of your attendees.
Even though it sounds cool to combine both in-person and virtual event advantages, hosting a hybrid event is not just all kittens 😸 and rainbows 🌈.
Everything in the world comes with some cons, and to be completely honest with you, here they are.
❌ CONS of hybrid events
️➖ 2 different experiences – Double trouble. Since you gather two types of people at your event, you need to think about the different experiences that this kind of meeting brings. It’s not an easy task, but if you can pull it out, the result is definitely worth the struggle.
️➖ Keeping virtual guests engaged – It’s a great challenge, having people watching the conference from their home full of distractions such as laundry, Netflix, a bucket of ice cream, wild kids, etc. With an event app, you can connect them with in-person attendees, engage them with polls, let them ask questions, and help them to plan their way through your agenda. Without such tools, you risk losing their attention halfway and be sure that next year they will rather choose a new series of their favorite TV show.
🧐 Should I organize a hybrid event?
Maybe you’re wondering whether you should go for it. Isn’t it easier to choose either fully in-person or virtual mode? Let us finish the sentence. We’ve put together 3 critical things that will help you decide.
- Your goals – First thing you should definitely think about. Your goals. What effect should holding an event bring you or your company? Is hybrid the right and best solution when you know the pros and cons? Then start with setting up KPIs, what might help you is an article on how to measure the success of your event. It stands for key performance indicators that show you the progress toward an intended result. Are those financial metrics, marketing-related targets, or customer satisfaction? You decide.
- Your target audience – Who are you targeting? Or maybe, who do you want to target? Think about the number of people, the size of your event, and language barriers. Maybe also think about the tech-savviness of your attendees as age might not be the most important differentiator. If you aim to tech rookies, be sure to prepare handy manuals and be ready to support them on the way. You can overcome the language barrier by translating the content to other languages. It is important not only for the right decision-making but also for planning because you can reach an audience so wide that it will cover several time zones.
- Your resources – Well, thanks for hosting such a huge, complex event, but… Can you give it everything it takes? To assess whether you can organize a hybrid event, you should check a lot of things. The budget must provide you with an option to hire enough staff. You might save on travel and venue costs, but there are some additional expenditures – technologies, tools, and extensive support. You’ll need more time to plan everything properly, so all the pieces will come together like a puzzle. If you feel this is beyond you, here are 13 tools that you might need to better plan and execute the hybrid event.
🔎 Types of hybrid events out there
Since hybrid events are all about combining the virtual with the in-person, there are many variations of what a hybrid event can look like. Let’s take a look.
- Mainly offline – Probably the first one that comes to your mind is the event where a bigger part is happening in person. The majority of speakers and attendees are at the venue, while the event is streamed to rather passive virtual attendees that only watch, but can’t really network, ask questions, etc. Unless the organizer uses some event app or some other way around.
- Mainly online – This is a quite common model where the speakers are present in the studio and stream to an online audience. Attendees simply turn their laptops on and enjoy the virtual experience while they can equally ask questions and interact via the streaming platform or an event app. This model worked particularly well for education in times of the pandemic.
- Truly mixed – Now, it’s the time to mix everything together. You invite some speakers to talk in-person and some virtually, the same applies to attendees. The biggest challenges are creating equal opportunities for both groups of attendees and engaging those who are connected remotely. Polls, Q/A, and networking modules in your event app are the most effective tools to help you achieve this goal.
- On-demand – Oh, jeez, here we’re getting somewhere! How about recording the whole in-person event and offering it to the public as a done deal so they can watch it not real-time, but also on-demand just like Netflix? This feels almost irresistible. Two birds with one stone, unlimited audience, chance to make little editing tricks to spice things up, and add some bonus content as a cherry on the top.
- Hybrid masterclass – Pedal to the metal, that’s what we love. The last model is for experienced hybrid eventers that know their audience so well, they can create one event with two significantly different experiences for in-person and virtual attendees. The main key sessions may stay the same, but the rest will differ for virtual and in-person guests. Give it a bit of energy and we bet that it will come back to you.
🙏 Keep in mind while hosting a hybrid event
There is always something that one needs to keep in mind, right? To turn off the light, to close the window, to make sure you won’t burn the dinner in the oven…
It’s the same with hybrid events. Keep these things in mind and your hybrid event will be great.
- This is critical. In-person attendees are not the same as virtual attendees. Don't you ever lump them all together! But while they are two different groups, they all want to engage. Approach them separately, but allow them to connect equally. How? Ask questions, require answers, do research, befriend them. In fact, it has never been easier. With an event tool like Eventee, you can bring both your audiences together on one platform for networking, keep them all engaged throughout the event, and much more.
- You know, at first, the event is interesting, but an hour or two later, paying attention becomes a tough job. People can’t focus longer than 90 minutes, that’s why we all need breaks. Not to let attendees get bored and worn out, keep your sessions short and boost engagement in between. The remote part of the audience is threatened way more by fatigue, so don’t make sessions longer than 30 minutes.
- Technologies. It’s the alpha and the omega because you can’t create a hybrid event without technologies. Do not underestimate anything and read our ultimate guide for streaming your event in real-time. Don’t worry, choosing the right tool is not rocket science and you surely discover the right stack that will go with your events like peanut butter and jelly.
- Record, please. In all cases. Maybe you’ll find what to add next time, you’ll learn, maybe you can offer it to others, post behind the scenes and sneak peeks on social media, maybe you’ll find a new way to monetize the event you’ve just held. Recycling is a common practice to scale up your event. If what you’re doing is good, there’s nothing that could stop you from using it even more.
😎 Tips and ideas to kick off your hybrid event with style
You don’t want to host just any event. You want to host an event that has style and people love to join it. Don’t be just a host, be a host with style too. Here are some tips that will guarantee your event will make it to the cool and unique categories.
Train, prepare, test and experiment. With everything from speaking to cooperation between your tech stack.
Mix things up
Diversity! It’s always good. Provide a dynamic variety of session formats like presentations, workshops, networking sessions, and panel discussions.
The organization is priority number one. Create a landing page where you can place all the important information and from where you can navigate both remote and in-person attendees.
Communicate, communicate and communicate
Simple, yet still so important. Create a virtual experience that feels like in-person. Doesn’t matter if it’s an audio or video call, with tools like Eventee or SlidesLive you will get the attention you deserve.
Fill in the gaps
During the break add some behind the scene streams and sneak peeks or play at least some music so the virtual attendees don’t lose the vibe, don’t feel forgotten and left out.
MC for the win
A great speaker or moderator is a must, but how about an extra MC for the virtual part? Here are our 6 tips on how to select the best event moderator, in case you wonder.
Make them move
You’re giving remote attendees something to watch, but what about their health? Offer them stretching sessions and pump more life into their veins.
Help sponsors get visibility
Remember to make sponsors happy. Create booths that will serve as touchpoints for both in-person and virtual attendees to improve sponsorship ROI.
Give out extras
Set the expectations high, because more is always better than less. Extra content never made anyone sad.
Engage with them all
Planning is what makes perfect engagement. Q&A, polls, chats, breakout rooms – that’s what adds zing to your event.
Stay in touch 24/7
Push notifications to keep attendees informed and engaged. This can help a lot! An announcement about your next event will light everyone’s eyes up.
Everyone loves to compete
Some of us have grown up from competing and some of us have not. But a funny competition (perhaps with free tickets for the next event or some special content as a prize) is definitely good for the spirit. What about a best event photo competition or an ultimate punchline competition?
And last but not least – the environment. Make sure that all attendees feel good in the environment you create. Decorate it and furnish it – think about a place to charge devices and about noise-canceling headphones, offer food and drinks or free massage, have a freakin’ zen garden if you like! Do anything to make your attendees snug and cozy.
If you are looking for more effective tips, take a look at 10 icebreaker ideas to kick off your event. But do not overthink it, we know that your event will be great!
💡 Let’s wrap it up
A hybrid event is a child of the modern age. When you mix offline and online worlds together, a cute hybrid event is born. Is it for you?
Ask yourself about your goals, your target audience, and your resources. Then decide.
Are you in? Great!
The main advantage of a hybrid event is that you can easily reach a global audience, or at least a much bigger audience, combining in-person and virtual attendees. The greater reach means more sponsors and more visibility for your event in general.
However, the reach and the visibility alone don't ensure the success of your event. The experience is key. Get it right.
Think of the audience as two different attendees that you need to approach separately but connect at the same time. Don’t forget to keep both groups engaged, no one wants an annoyed attendee falling asleep on his couch at home.
Make sure you plan a great experience for everyone, using a wide range of technologies, tools, and apps to keep you on the right track the whole time!
Still not sure whether you are ready to host a hybrid event? It’s okay to stick with a fully virtual one. Read our ultimate guide about how to host a virtual event and let’s start digging.