What is a Hybrid Event and How Best to Run One

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    Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing global travel restrictions, PCOs, event organizers, and businesses have turned to the virtual space in search of safe, practical alternatives to physical events with phenomenally positive results. Following the enormous success of their virtual events, many organizers are eager to create and host hybrid events in future.

    In this post, we take a closer look at hybrid events, what they are, their benefits, and how best to run them.

    Pie chart showing the hybrid events trend before and after covid-19
    Source: Linda Nilson, Hybrid Events: Breaking the borders

    What is a Hybrid Event?

    A hybrid event is any event (e.g., training workshop, conference, colloquium, congress, seminar, or exhibition) that combines both in-person and virtual (online digital) elements. As such, hybrid events may range from simple physical events with live streaming components to complex multi-faceted events with thousands of participants, multiple concurrent live streams, and interactive virtual and face-to-face networking sessions.

    The Benefits of Hybrid Events

    Although the notion of hybrid events is not entirely new, they have become increasingly popular over the past decade as a growing number of businesses experience firsthand appreciate the distinct advantages of these events.

    While in-person events offer a level of personal connection that cannot be replicated online, and virtual events provide wider reach and accessibility, hybrid events synergistically combine the two to offer the best of both worlds.

    What’s more, with hybrid events, it is possible to include tiered pricing options and allow delegates, who due to funding or geographical restrictions are unable to attend the physical event, to register for the virtual component only or access recorded sessions after the event at reduced rates.

    Organizers not only benefit from the expanded long-term reach but are also able to tap into a whole new audience, resulting in additional income streams and excellent ROIs.

    The analytics features available through new technologies, such as the OnAIR hybrid event solution by EventsAir, allow organizers to accurately monitor, record and report on valuable attendee engagement data that can be used in conjunction with feedback from participants to inspire and direct the agendas of future events.

    Hybrid events will undoubtedly be the preferred format for events in future. Let’s take a look at a few tips to bear in mind when planning and running your hybrid event.

    Hybrid events will undoubtedly be the preferred format for events in future. Let’s take a look at a few tips to bear in mind when planning and running your hybrid event.

    Hybrid Events Stats
    Source: Thrivemyway

    How to Run a Successful Hybrid Event

    By following a few simple tips, you can easily create highly successful hybrid events.

    1. Choose an Interesting Theme and Content for Your Event

    Interesting and engaging content that speaks to your target audience is crucial to the success of your hybrid event. Bearing in mind that a significant portion of your audience is online and just a mouse-click away from a variety of enticing distractions, it is vital to know your target audience and design your agenda to include the hot topics that they want to hear about, delivered by vibrant presenters.

    2. Decide on the Scope and Agenda of Your Event

    Once you’re clear on your theme, it’s time to set up the scope and agenda of your hybrid event. Consider the types of virtual and physical elements you would like to include, bearing in mind your target audience, your budget, your goals for the event, the size and type of event you are hosting and the time available.

    Take time to carefully plan both the physical and virtual aspects of your event and ways in which they will dovetail to achieve a cohesive hybrid event. Do you simply want to record sessions and offer them as downloads after the event?

    Are you going to be pre-recording speakers from around the globe for on-demand or synchronized playback? Will you be live streaming some parts of the conference? Do you need to produce a multi-faceted event, complete with virtual exhibitions and networking opportunities?

    3. Find a Suitable Virtual and Hybrid Event Platform

    Selecting the right platform to suit your needs, is the key to a successful hybrid event. The most successful hybrid events go beyond simple live streams and webinars to thoroughly engage the online audience, drawing virtual attendees into the physical event, so that they share the event experience as closely as possible with live participants in real time.

    To achieve this level of engagement it is important to choose a platform with the right capabilities. This is particularly important if you are planning to host a complex event that requires multi-functionality including a variety of registration options with tiered pricing, multiple live streams, concurrent sessions, on-demand video or synchronized video sessions, and reliable analytics.

    4. Come Up with Creative Ways to Engage Your Audience

    Hybrid events open up a world of possibilities when it comes to being creative and adding novel and engaging elements to your event that will keep your audience interacting.

    This is especially important in the virtual space where it’s so easy for them to surf away from the event if they’re not actively involved.

    A useful tip is to style your event along the lines of a television sports broadcast or talk show. Where possible, use vibrant presenters, interesting guest speakers, and moderators to set the pace of the event and keep it moving.

    A host of interactive virtual components are currently available on hybrid event platforms such as OnAIR, including gamification, virtual emcees, online exhibition marketplaces, e-poster sessions, speed networking sessions, wellness sessions, and happy hours to name a few.

    Make your event more exciting by including a good mix of these elements in conjunction with your physical program.

    5. Keep Sessions Short and the Pace Fast to Hold Attention

    Since online audience attention spans are limited, maintaining a snappy pace is very important for hybrid events.

    In addition to using a live emcee to keep things on track, it’s important to keep sessions short, and that means making sure your speakers know that there’s no leeway for going over time in the virtual setting. Most speakers won’t mind, and your audience will enjoy the experience that much more.

    6. Create Hybrid Hubs Where Virtual Participants Can Watch the Event Together

    The next best thing to being there in-person, hybrid hubs give people the opportunity to get together with others in their local area while watching the event online. This adds yet another layer of connection and value to the event.

    As restrictions ease in the near future, we expect to see the number of hybrid events burgeoning. In the meantime, why not get familiar with the hybrid event platforms out there, what they have to offer and how they work. You could start by taking the online tour of the OnAIR platform available here.

    EventsAir has been at the forefront of Event Technology and Innovation for over 30 years, continually pushing the boundaries of what an event management platform can do. Built by event planners for event planners, EventsAir is a secure, scalable, cloud-based solution that can manage everything from in-person, virtual to hybrid conferences, meetings and events in a single online platform – anywhere, anytime and on any device.

    In use in over 50 countries by multi-national corporations, professional conference organizers, government departments and tertiary education institutions, EventsAir is also used in global congresses such as G20, APEC, CHOGM and ASEAN, as well as sporting events like The Olympic Games, World Rugby, Commonwealth Games and Pan Am Games. EventsAir is trusted by event professionals around the globe. For further information, visit www.eventsair.com

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