A hybrid event is a trade show, conference, unconference, seminar, workshop or other meeting that combines a “live” in-person event with a “virtual” online component.
With the growing popularity and cost-effectiveness of virtual events, hybrid events have become a popular way of increasing participation in traditional events at a relatively low cost. They also enable participation by people who might be unable to attend physically due to travel or time zone constraints or through a wish to reduce the carbon footprint of the event.
Hybrid events can extend the reach of your audience and generate new revenue opportunities for your business. In addition, the virtual components of a hybrid event enable you to supply content and entice a brand new virtual audience to decide to attend in person for the same future event.
Establish hybrid event objectives and audience
Strategy is critical to hybrid success; therefore, you must clearly define your objectives and metrics up front. When creating your strategy, answer these questions to help you discover the best way to layout your hybrid event:
- Is your goal to cut costs?
- Are you looking for a different channel to generate more revenue?
- Are you trying to increase audience size?
- Is increasing attendee engagement your main focus?
Knowing your target audience will help you to decide what elements to incorporate into your hybrid event to make it more successful. Focus on your audience’s’ familiarity with technology and how comfortable they are using webcasting and online event software. You may decide to conduct prospect and customer surveys during the event planning process to help you create an event experience that is technically appropriate and engages your audience. Understanding why people come to your physical events will help you understand why they would participate in a complementary virtual event and how much you should be charging for the virtual component.
Build a hybrid event team
The content you include in the hybrid extension needs as much attention and effort as the physical event. When planning your hybrid event you still need to create content, book speakers, sell booth spaces as well as manage all the moving parts. Enlisting the appropriate people early on will help to ensure your hybrid event is a success. On your team you should have designers, and an experienced production team to help you bring the hybrid event to life. Allowing plenty of planning time will enable these teams to work together to make your event a success. As a side note, this team should be separate from the physical event so members aren’t overwhelmed but they should be able to work with the physical event team for seamless integration.
Partner with the right solution provider
With a solid team on your side you can begin to think about what solution provider would be the best fit for your organization. With many options to choose from it’s important to ask the right questions when looking for a hybrid event partner: Do they have a track record for success producing hybrid events? Does the provider offer customizable solutions? Is there seamless integration between the physical and virtual event experience? Do they have experience working with companies who had similar initiatives?
After determining your target audience build strong team, and have the right solution provider on your side you can begin to think about what content you want included in the hybrid extension. Using a virtual platform allows you the flexibility to include the entire event, a single day or only specific sessions. This allows you to craft the perfect virtual experience for the hybrid event. This is also the time when you can begin to think about the other elements of the hybrid extension like who will be included in the virtual exhibit hall, will you include interactive games with contests and prizes, networking lounges, or a resource center.
Train for success
The quality of content delivery is a key factor in the success of your hybrid event. Speakers cannot show up the day of the event and expect to present compelling content. Leading up to the event it’s important your speakers, moderators and engineers are properly trained to use all the virtual tools to create an interactive and engaging presentation. Walk through polling, Q&A, chat windows and different slide content types to give your presenters a framework on how to outline their content.
Create an Integrated Event Experience
When hosting a Hybrid event it’s important not to market a physical and virtual event rather promote them as a single entity. By integrating the content and experience seamlessly either audience will experience the same event. You may even have attendees try out the physical event one day and attend virtually the next based on their availability.
Review and Repurpose
After your hybrid event review the data captured with the virtual event technology. This information will give you great insights to how successful the hybrid was and also give you idea for future events. After the closing of the hybrid event you can host a rebroadcast of the virtual components for those unable to attend and to increase audience reach.