The Beginner’s Guide: Hybrid Events

Every event manager has had to shift to virtual for the last year, and while 2021 is slowly opening, hybrid events are here for a while. Hybrid events are not new, but they are gaining ground as businesses realize they need to find alternative ways to engage with customers and clients. But what is a hybrid event? And if you have not done so yet, how do you organize one?

Hybrid Events: The Basics

At its most basic, a hybrid event is any meeting or conference which also has a virtual audience. In recent times, that has meant businesses doing live product demonstrations, talks, workshops, and seminars with a small, in-person audience plus a wider virtual audience. This allows for interaction between the people at the premises where the event streams from, and for the virtual audience to then react and respond to what is happening on-screen.

Virtual Events Versus Hybrid Events

Virtual events are solely online, with any number of hosts usually working independently at different locations, or perhaps one small team running the event from a single location. Virtual events should engage a wholly digital audience via a virtual platform.

Hybrid events need to cater to an in-person and virtual audience, making them trickier to organize and produce. Both types of event require creativity and a knack for knowing your audience. You need to find incentives to get people online as well as showing up in person, where safe and appropriate.

What Every Event Manager Needs to Know About Hybrid Events

Most successful hybrid events need the following factors:

  • Interaction between the in-person audience and the virtual audience
  • Content that engages both types of audiences
  • Inclusivity
  • Dynamic content that is image-focused and easy to digest
  • Effective marketing and advertising
  • A solid and cohesive theme
  • An understanding of your target audience

Many of these factors also play into standard event management, of course. Virtual events enabled a world of inclusivity for those that might not normally be able to attend in-person. Hybrid events blend the two worlds, bringing everyone together. The key is to be entertaining and interactive, never letting the focus solely center on the room, or conversely, leave it completely to just focus on the digital guests. Planning is everything:

  • How long will your event last?
  • How will you stop virtual attendees switching off or leaving?
  • Do you have the facility to send out resources to virtual attendees before the event?
  • Do you need to limit the number of attendees, or can it be a free-for-all?

Many of these factors will depend on your industry and the size of your organization. The in-person audience might be members of your organization who all know what to expect, in that case, you might shift your focus to a stronger engagement of the virtual guests. Or, you might have space to host a few clients safely at your premises, meaning you need to make sure your content is gripping for both types of audience.

With both hybrid and virtual events, technology allows you to assess the success of your meeting or presentation via a range of analytics and data solutions. Having an events management partner can help you take future events to the next level.

Working With an Event Production Company

Having an experienced event production company as a partner is invaluable. Most event managers never had to host a virtual event before 2020, never mind a fully-fledged hybrid event. Partner with experts who can help you walk the fine line between making it entertaining for your virtual audience while still engaging those that can attend in person. Talk with our team about how we can help make hybrid events work for you and your organization in 2021.

Want to check out Global Meetings Industry Day: Virtual, on Thursday, April 8th? Sign up here for a free day of education and hear from the experts in the field: https://www.mpi.org/events/gmid21