Lockdowns are over. So, everyone is ready to attend events in person again… right?
There’s no denying that in-person events are back at full-pelt, however with shorter lead-times, increased travel disruption and demand for availability, how can organisers ensure they’re still attracting the audience numbers to ensure success?
It’s a split opinion – but our research indicates that at least 40% of organisers are planning on having some virtual elements to attract online attendees, as well as those in the room.
That’s why, in this article, I’ll be looking at hybrid events—how they work, why they work, and why you shouldn’t write them off just yet…
What is a hybrid event?
There is no strict definition of a hybrid event, as it really depends on what you are hosting. Typically though, it is any event that consists of an in-person element and a virtual element.
The trap most event planners fall into is deciding to run an in-person event, and then tacking on a virtual element. Or vice versa.
A hybrid event should be hybrid from the outset, not an addition or afterthought.
The rise of hybrid events
This isn’t a new phenomenon, but hybrid events have become more popular in recent years. Take one guess why…
You got it—the pandemic.
During lockdown, businesses shifted to virtual events by necessity. As lockdown eased, many potential attendees didn’t want to show up in person. The natural solution? Hybrid events.
There will always be those who prefer a physical event, and those that prefer a virtual one. However, a good hybrid event caters to both audiences without making either feel like they’re missing out. How?
Keep reading or have a free discussion with an expert hybrid event consultant today on 02476 369 720.
How hybrid events work
For clarity, we’ll split hybrid events into two separate categories:
In this case, internal refers to an event for your staff, and internal stakeholders. External is an event primarily held for customers, prospects, etc. Let’s start with internal.
You’re more likely to run an internal hybrid event if your company utilises hybrid working, or has staff scattered across the country.
In some ways, the process will be familiar. You’ll need to create a guest list, choose a venue, and send out invites. However, you’ll also need to consider other virtual elements. For example, if you’re livestreaming a talk from a senior director, where will they be doing their talk? How will it be broadcast to those viewing remotely? Do you have the correct equipment to record them?
You’ll need to decide on hybrid event studio software that’ll allow you to host your event. Finding software that suits your needs exactly is tricky, so don’t rush into a decision, as each will have their own unique functionality. Make sure this is factored in from the beginning of the event planning process. Your venue, suppliers, AV, and virtual platform all need to work together to make the hybrid event function seamlessly.
Once you have decided all of the above, you need to focus on communication. When you send invites, make sure you make it clear that there is an option to join remotely. You don’t necessarily have to include remote joining details in the invitation, but you should always provide instructions at some point prior to the event. Otherwise, your event will fall at the first hurdle.
All of the above applies to external events too, but there are a couple more considerations—sponsorship, for example.
For some, revenue generation is the main purpose for hosting an external event. This can be done via sponsorship and exhibition packages, or through longer term goals, such as lead-generation and nurturing relationships with customers and prospects.
The creation of a hybrid event means you can span a wider audience. This allows your internal sales team, invited sponsors, and exhibitors to get as much visibility as possible. You can do this through several methods, including:
- Push notifications
- Sponsored sessions
- Banner ads
- An online sponsor page
- Physical and virtual sponsor booths
- Online and in-person scheduled meetings
- Attendee connections
Equally, it’s worth thinking about content for your external audience. If networking is the main reason for attendance, be sure to make as much of this as you can. Consider virtual speed networking sessions for your online attendees as well as the invaluable connection of in-room networking for those attending in person.
When utilising virtual events, make it exciting and enticing. Think exclusive access content, candid interviews, and ‘behind the scenes’ material. Of course, the beauty of hybrid is that you can make most things available on-demand after the event, giving it longevity.
Finally, reducing travel and other event-related carbon emissions has a positive effect for both the event and the company. It helps to meet your CSR goals, build a brand reputation, and offers PR advantages. Not to mention, it ultimately helps with the global climate crisis. I’ll go into this in more detail in the following section…
Why hybrid events work
With the right hybrid event company behind you, you can navigate the challenges of hosting a hybrid event easily and reap the benefits. And there are lots of them.
One advantage of a hybrid event is increased attendance. With any event, there is always the risk of attendees dropping out at the last minute, or not attending at all due to the travel barriers. Hybrid events eliminate these barriers and provide the opportunity to participate no matter your situation. This gives your event global reach—should you want it.
Another benefit is that you have access to more in-depth data on your event. At an in-person meeting, you can record attendance and maybe get delegates to fill out a survey. Virtual platforms give you access to this data, plus much more. Want to know how many people watched a session? When did they drop out? Who downloaded the additional materials? Find out and use this data to tailor future events.
Hybrid events are also sustainable. Looking to reduce your carbon footprint? You can eliminate a huge portion of your carbon emissions by moving to hybrid. A three day in-person event is around 430kg of carbon per person. A virtual event of the same length is around 0.5kg per person. Catering, travel, and venue choice are three of the major factors that contribute to the carbon produced by your event. Hybrid reduces the amount of food you need to order, restricts long-haul travel, and reduces the size of your venue. Find out more about reducing your event’s carbon footprint with our Carbon Consultancy service here.
Why should I run a hybrid event in 2023?
In a recent survey by the Virtual Events Institute, 73.3% of people agreed that hybrid events are the future. With virtual events now commonplace, and in-person events returning, it’s easy to see why.
Virtual events are cost effective. In-person events are more engaging. But the truth is, while hybrid events may be tricky to get right, they’re also the most rewarding.
If you pull it off, you’ll attract more sponsors and attendees than you would a virtual or physical event. That means more engagement, more visibility, and more revenue…
Help with hybrid events from Conference Care
Want a helping hand with your virtual or hybrid event?
To maximise attendance, sponsorship, and revenue, speak to one of our expert digital event consultants today. They will make sure everything is set up and run smoothly so you can focus on enjoying the event.
– Blog by Sally McNamara, Head of Digital Services at Conference Care