What is a hybrid event and how to host one.
It’s hard to imagine that just a few years ago, event organizers had never heard about hybrid events! In 2023, hybrid events are more than just a necessity – attendees expect hybrid options to be on offer. Simply put, hybrid events offer far greater flexibility and can also be much more cost-effective, when delivered successfully.
In this post, we take a closer look at hybrid events, what they are, their benefits, and how to host them.
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 or 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.
What is the goal of a hybrid event?
The goal of a hybrid event is to create an inclusive and engaging experience that combines the benefits of both virtual and in-person events. This can help to increase attendance and reach a wider audience, while also providing more flexibility and accessibility for attendees.
Additionally, hybrid events can provide opportunities for networking, knowledge-sharing, and collaboration among participants, regardless of their location.
Ultimately, the goal is to create a seamless and meaningful experience that meets the needs and preferences of all attendees.
What are the different types of hybrid events?
Just like any type of event, there are two types of hybrid events – internal (organized for the internal stakeholders of an organization, e.g. staff and shareholders) and external (organized for the external stakeholders, including customers and the general public).
Examples of internal hybrid events:
- Sales kickoffs
- Global town halls
- Employee training
- Larger team meetings
- Team building activities
Examples of external hybrid events:
- Conferences and trade shows
- Customer conferences
- Product demonstrations and launches
- Marketing and PR events
When do you host a hybrid event?
At EventsAir, we believe the most important decisions about any event should always be led by their people and their content – not the format. That being said, there are some events that lend themselves better to the hybrid format than others. These include:
- When you want to provide an in-person experience for attendees, but also want to accommodate those who cannot attend in person due to distance, cost, or other reasons.
- When you want to reach a wider audience by providing a virtual option that can be accessed from anywhere in the world.
- When you want to provide more flexibility for attendees by allowing them to choose whether to attend in-person or virtually, based on their preferences and needs.
- When you want to reduce the environmental impact of your event by minimizing travel and reducing carbon emissions.
Ultimately, the decision to host a hybrid event should be based on the specific needs and goals of your organization and your audience.
What are the benefits of hosting 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 first-hand the distinct numerous benefits of these events. These include:
- Combine the best of both worlds – personal connection of in-person and the reach and accessibility of virtual
- Tiered pricing options to increase affordability and reach, particularly for delegates who are unable to travel or those who may prefer to access recordings post-event at a time that suits them
- Tap into new income streams and increase ROI
- Enhanced analytics features to accurately monitor, record and report on valuable engagement data and feedback from participants, as well as shape the agenda of future hybrid events.
How do you host a successful hybrid event?
By following a few simple tips, you can easily host 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 successful hosting of a hybrid event. A significant portion of your audience is online and just a mouse-click away from a variety of enticing distractions, so 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.
You could also think about different ways to engage your virtual audience, such as providing them with their own MC to keep engagement high.
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 how they can work together to achieve a cohesive hybrid event.
Questions to consider include:
- How do you plan to record or capture sessions? Does your venue have existing technology or AV set up that you can leverage?
- 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?
- How are you going to facilitate the out-of-session opportunities linked to your hybrid event, including sponsor exhibits and networking opportunities?
3. Find a suitable virtual and hybrid event platform
Selecting the right platform 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.
Platform selection is particularly important if you are planning to host a complex hybrid 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 attendees to surf away from the event if they’re not actively involved.
Two of our favorite engagement tips are:
- Style the virtual component of your hybrid 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
- Leverage the interactive virtual components are currently available on hybrid event platforms such as OnAIR, including gamification, virtual MCs, online exhibition marketplaces, e-poster sessions, speed networking sessions, wellness sessions and happy hours.
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 our experience, most people’s attention spans max out by the 45 minute mark.
In addition to using a live MC 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.
6. Create hybrid hubs where virtual participants can watch events together
If you have a number of virtual attendees registered to attend from the same area, consider setting up a hybrid hub – a space where they can come together to experience the event.
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.
How can our event technology solutions help to improve your next hybrid event?
At EventsAir, we understand the importance of selecting the right event technology partner – someone who can help you deliver the best event possible, whether virtual, hybrid or in-person..
We have one simple mission: to help event planners deliver the WOW in their events with the world’s most powerful event management technology. We’ve delivered some of the world’s biggest events, and we’d love to help you too.
Reach out to request a demo, and one of our team members will be in touch shortly.