Hybrid Events: The Complete Guide
Hybrid events have been amplified since the pandemic as they combine the interactive element of a physical event, with the ease and accessibility of a virtual event.
So, it’s not hard to see why so many businesses are taking advantage of this approach.
As the meeting landscape continues to evolve, understanding how to harness the power of live and virtual events is key, to ensure you’re delivering an engaging and immersive experience for all attendees.
We’ve covered various blog posts related to hybrid events so far on the iVent blog, links to which can all be found below:
- How to Run an Effective Hybrid Meeting (With free agenda template)
- Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Event Planning: Are Hybrid Events the Future?
- Hybrid Meetings and Events – Cutting Through the Noise
However, consider this post your ultimate guide; your bible if you wish, to hosting fantastic hybrid events.
From understanding why these types of events are so popular, to planning and executing your own hybrid event, you should be fully equipped with everything you need to know.
So, let’s dive in.
What Is a Hybrid Event?
We’ll keep this part fairly short and sweet as I’m sure you’ve all taken part in one hybrid event over the last couple of years!
They’ve become the norm for many businesses, as the world adopts a different approach to in-person gatherings.
In its most basic form, a hybrid event combines live and virtual elements whereby people can either attend in person or join remotely from a digital device.
You could even have your audience all join remotely, but broadcast your speakers/ performers directly from the venue to create a real buzz and sense of excitement. The world is your oyster when it comes to planning hybrid events, which is why they have become so popular.
As the world continues to move into a digital space, hybrid events are a fantastic way to enhance the in-person experience. You can also broaden your audience reach, as these events remove any geographical or logistical barriers.
Why Choose Hybrid Events?
As we’ve mentioned above, hybrid events help you expand your reach as delegates can attend from all across the globe. They don’t need to worry about travel or booking accommodation, as they can tune in regardless of their location.
Aside from this, there are various benefit to running a hybrid event which we’ll delve into below:
If people live a long distance away from your event, this might discourage them from attending. Not only can travel be expensive, but it can also be an inconvenience when people have other commitments.
Hybrid events offer people the best of both worlds, and it is completely up to them how they choose to attend. If they would prefer to digest your content in-person then they can attend the venue. Alternatively, they can still be part of the event and join from their laptop.
Increased sponsor value
At an in-person event, sponsors can only target people who are physically in front of them. However, at a virtual event, they have much more brand exposure meaning they can promote their products/ services to an even bigger audience.
Also, by having sponsors present at the physical and virtual parts of the event at the same time, it is a double whammy! This gives sponsors the opportunity to meet with people in person, whilst also leveraging the advantages of connecting with people remotely.
Lower carbon footprint
Due to the nature of hybrid events, they also have a lower carbon footprint. In today’s environmentally conscious world, this has to be a big plus.
Attendees who live far away will most likely choose to join the event remotely which means they will not need to make the journey by car/ train/ aeroplane. It also means there will be less energy spent on heating and air conditioning at the venue, and also less wasted resources such as food.
The Core Elements of a Hybrid Event
When it comes to understanding what makes a great corporate event, there are various factors to consider.
The core elements of what makes a great hybrid event are summarised below:
First things first.
You need to choose the right virtual event platform. This is where your virtual attendees will tune in to watch your event so it needs to provide all the functionality you require.
A few things to consider when choosing a virtual event platform are checking its integration capabilities, making sure it’s easy to access for all attendees, and understanding which audience engagement and networking tools it provides.
Keeping your virtual audience engaged is key, as their experience shouldn’t be compromised only because they’re not physically in the same room.
We’ve already written a great post on how to choose the right virtual event platform which runs you through everything you need to consider first. Make sure you check it out!
So, you’ve got lots of people signed up for your hybrid event, but what are you going to be presenting?
Nailing your event content is key, as you need to deliver an interactive event that takes both your in-person and remote attendees into account.
You need to think about what value you’re bringing your attendees as you don’t want to waste their time. Try to think of ways you can make your content interesting and engaging, so that people are excited before the event has even started.
Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. If you saw a session with a boring title, would you be encouraged to attend? Probably not! Your audience is taking previous time out of the day (with some even traveling to a specific venue) so make sure there’s something in it for them.
When it comes to your speakers, think about how they’re going to present their content. Attendees might be a little disappointed if they’ve travelled all the way to your venue, only to watch a speaker via video stream.
Therefore, consider new and creative ways to present your content so both audiences benefit. This might take the form of fun presentations or gamification – it’s time to think outside the box!
Hybrid event venue
Whilst the venue you choose isn’t a big deal for your remote attendees, you’ll still want to impress those who are attending in person.
If they’re making the effort to come to your event in-person, then you want to choose somewhere that projects the right brand image. Somewhere dark and dingy probably isn’t going to make your attendees want to come back!
Make sure you choose a venue that has lots of bright open spaces to facilitate good networking opportunities. After all, you don’t want everyone to be crammed in a tiny corner somewhere.
The best events are where people can freely mingle and continue their discussions over a relaxed drink or two.
Now you might think it’s much easier to interact with your in-person attendees than your remote attendees.
However, by choosing the right event platform, you can still draw your remote attendees in, and make them feel as though they are in the same room.
This comes back to our earlier point about carefully choosing an event platform. You want to be sure that your chosen platform comes complete with Q&A functionality, live chat, and live polls as this enables your remote attendees to get involved in the conversation.
At iVent, our platform comes with a whole host of interactive features to keep your audience engaged for longer. As well as live chat, we also offer live video which enables your remote attendees to be fully immersed in the event experience.
One of the most valuable parts of an event is the networking opportunities. This can be a really useful way for your attendees to establish valuable connections, and for your sponsors to generate great leads.
When it comes to your remote attendees, you need to provide them with the same wealth of networking opportunities as your in-person attendees.
This is where features such as breakout rooms come into play, as attendees can continue their discussions in a more relaxed environment.
With the iVent platform, there is also our Instant Meeting feature. This allows attendees to book a meeting spontaneously, so that they can connect with people one-to-one.
Not only is sponsorship a great way for you to monetise your hybrid events, but it also gives your sponsors and attendees the chance to build meaningful connections.
As we’ve touched on, an advantage of hybrid meetings is that your sponsors will be getting exposure through both in-person and online interactions.
If you want to include sponsors as part of your hybrid events strategy, you need to consider what’s in it for them. This includes understanding their goals and objectives, creating tiered packages to suit their needs, offering lots of branding opportunities, and providing in-depth reports so they can measure the success of the event.
When it comes to your physical event, sponsorship opportunities might be more obvious. For example, you could include their logo on your exhibition banners or on goodie bags you give out to delegates.
At hybrid events, there are still countless ways to promote your sponsors. On the iVent platform, you can create a customised booth that is sure to impress your sponsors. Not only can you include their logos, but you can also link to all of their social media channels to drive more traffic towards their brand.
To make sure your event is successful for both you and your sponsors, you need to gather feedback from attendees.
This allows you to ask vital questions such as:
- What did you enjoy most about the event?
- Which speaker was most engaging?
- What would you change about the event next time?
- Were there enough networking opportunities?
This allows you to see which parts of your event your audience enjoyed, so that you can tweak the agenda moving forward.
For example, if your attendees said there weren’t enough networking opportunities, this is something to remember for future event planning.
To obtain feedback, send attendees a survey and ask them to be as honest as possible. They will appreciate the fact that you are giving them a voice and considering their opinion.
How Much Do Hybrid Events Cost?
When it comes to setting a budget for your hybrid event, you will need to account for two distinct elements; these being the virtual side of your event, and the in-person side.
It also depends how much weight you’re giving each of these elements, as the cost can vary widely. For example, are the majority of your employees joining remotely, or are the majority of them attending in-person?
Virtual events tend to be a lot cheaper as you’re mitigating various expenses such as travel, hospitality, and catering.
As such, you might find it cheaper to host the majority of your event online, and only have a few speakers/ panelists attending the venue in person. You can then stream these discussions to your remote audience, so that they can still consume the content from their own location.
Considerations when budgeting for the virtual side of your hybrid event:
- Your chosen event platform. An all-in-one platform is usually cheaper, as all of the functionality you need is in one place.
- The cost of filming, so that you can stream your in-person speakers/ presenters to your remote audience.
- Audio visual equipment so that your virtual event has audio, content, and video.
- The cost of virtual entertainment and catering. For example, are you hiring an external company to deliver a masterclass of some sort?
Considerations when budgeting for the in-person side of your hybrid event:
- Cost of the venue and how many people are attending. The more people attending in-person, the bigger the venue will need to be.
- Catering, as you will need to provide attendees with refreshments throughout the day.
- Goody bags, freebies, and giveaways to sustain audience engagement.
- Signage and branding such as designing roller banners and graphics.
How to plan a successful hybrid event
For a hybrid event to be successful, it needs to have a plan.
Have you ever known an event to run smoothly without devising a plan first? It’s a recipe for disaster! This applies even more so in the world of hybrid events, as you’re blending two different elements.
Instead of concentrating on a single audience and understanding their wants and needs, you’ve got double the workload. Your event needs to work for those attending both remotely and in-person so that they spread the word and drive even more people to your event in the future.
Thankfully, this section is dedicated to how you can plan a successful hybrid event that takes every attendee into consideration.
Step 1: Define your goals
Like any type of event, you need to know what you’re trying to achieve and who you want to target from the outset.
Nailing down these answers before you have started your event planning will ensure every decision you make is targetted and strategic.
So, ask yourself:
- What do I want to achieve after running this event?
- Who do I want to attend my event?
- What value am I giving attendees?
- What content do I need to create to engage my audience?
Step 2: Choose your hybrid event format
There are lots of hybrid events you can choose from such as hybrid meetings, hybrid conferences, hybrid product launches, hybrid award ceremonies – you name it, it’s possible!
The event you choose really depends on your goals, and of course, your budget.
For example, if you can only afford a small venue, then choosing to host a large conference with multiple speakers and lots of physical exhibition stands is probably a bad idea.
You need to think about how the event is going to work practically and logistically, to ensure all attendees have a positive experience.
Furthermore, you need to decide how you want to deliver your content. For example, you could run a hybrid event with a live studio audience where the speakers perform to a small in-person audience. This can then be streamed to a wider audience who are tuning in remotely, almost like a talk show.
Alternatively you could choose to run an on-demand event where the content is initially just experienced by an in-person audience. However, it can then be made available to people who want to watch it online at a later date.
This is possible through iVents digital hub as people can access content at a time which is convenient for them.
There are 4 different hybrid formats – a simultaneous event, an echo event, a book-end event, and a 365 environment. To find out more about these even formats, check out the video below:
Step 3: Choose the right technology
You need to have the right equipment for both the virtual and in-person elements of your hybrid event.
For the in-person side, you need things such as lighting, camera, microphones, and production equipment. This will ensure your recording is professional and can be streamed to your remote attendees.
Similarly, for the virtual side of your hybrid event, you will need to consider the virtual event platform, any live streaming software, and audience engagement tools.
Step 4: Create Your Agenda
For people to attend your event in future, the content you provide needs to be interesting, valuable, and engaging.
You need to make sure people are getting some sort of genuine value from attending your event so that they want to spread the word about it.
When it comes to a hybrid setting, you have two audiences to consider.
Below are some tips for creating a hybrid agenda that suits all parties:
- Keep your sessions short – You don’t want to bore people, especially if they’re joining remotely. Whilst you want to bring them value, and ensure you’re providing in-depth information, you don’t want people to become disengaged.
- Schedule frequent breaks – People concentrate better when they’ve had time to switch off for a little. Whether that’s grabbing some fresh air outside or having a coffee, make sure there are plenty of opportunities for breaks.
- Make time for fun/ networking – Regardless of the type of event you’re hosting, it needs to be fun and interactive. Make sure your delegates have time to mingle and can build on the connections they have made.
Step 5: Nail your marketing strategy
When it comes to your marketing strategy, you need to refer back to your event goals.
Make sure you understand what you’re trying to achieve and consider which channels would be the best way to engage with your audience.
For example, if you’re targeting B2B consumers, then leveraging LinkedIn is a great way to get the word out there. You should also take advantage of email campaigns as this allows you to segment your audience and reach the relevant people at the right time.
When devising your marketing strategy, make sure you:
- Utilise social media to post key announcements.
- Send emails to your audience, giving them information about the event and what to expect.
- Provide easy registration for your attendees and share links on your social media channels.
Hybrid Events: The Complete Guide
Hopefully we’ve left no stone unturned when it comes to planning a fantastic hybrid event!
As you can see from the post above, there’s a lot to take into account to make sure you’ve planned and executed a hybrid event that delivers a fantastic experience for all attendees.
Catering for both your in-person and online audience can be tricky, and you need to understand what is required for both elements.
From choosing the right event platform for the virtual side of your event, to sourcing the right venue for those attending in person, the most important thing is that all parties involved get real value.
Whether they’re dialling in remotely or travelling from a different location, they’re making the effort to join your hybrid event so it needs to be worth their time. Think carefully about what your event is giving them, and the reasons why they should attend.
At iVent, we’ve delivered successful hybrid events across a whole host of sectors. With our online platform, our expert staff will be able to capture your live event and stream it online to anyone else who wishes to be involved in it. Your audiences will get to experience live presentations at an event, watch them online, and access all of your streamed content on-demand at a later time.
It’s the best of both worlds! For more information, get in touch with our team.