Every event manager has had to go virtual since early 2020. 2021 is looking like more of the same—at least for now. Hybrid events are not new, but they are going from strength to strength as businesses realize they need to find alternative ways to engage with customers and clients. But, what is a hybrid event? And if you haven’t 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’s meant businesses doing live product demonstrations, talks, workshops and seminars with a small, safe, in-person audience plus a wider virtual audience. This allows for interaction between the people present at the premises where the event streams from, and for the virtual audience to then react and respond to what’s happening on-screen.
Virtual Events Versus Hybrid Events
Virtual events are solely online, with any number of hosts usually working on their own 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 turning 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
- Dynamic content that’s 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 opened up a world of inclusivity for those that might not normally be able to attend in-person events. 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. Your in-person audience might be members of your organization who all know what to expect, in which 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 on hand to help with this can help you take future events to the next level.
Working With an Event Production Company
Having an experienced event production company on hand can be invaluable. Most event managers had never had to host a virtual event before 2020, never mind a fully fledged hybrid event. Partner up with experts who can help you walk the fine line between making it perfect for your virtual audience whilst still engaging the few that can make it in person, where applicable. Talk with our team about how we can help your team about make hybrid events work for you and your organization in 2021.