The Ultimate Guide to Planning Hybrid Events in 2021

GVAS virtual conference with space theme and audience

Meet the ‘new norm’ of networking - Hybrid Events. Last year we were wowed by the possibilities and reach of virtual events and experiences. So many individuals were able to attend events globally through their screens and continued to keep connections and conferences alive among lockdown and social distancing rules. While in-person events may be coming back, you can’t deny the benefits of virtual events for business.

So, what does that mean for events moving forward? Here’s introducing hybrid events.

What is a Hybrid Event?

Let’s first chat about what a hybrid event is. A hybrid event will have a mix of virtual and in-person attendees. While there is the option for attendees to go to a venue to experience the event, they will also have the option to sign in online if they are unable to make it in person. 

Usually, travel expenses and distance are major factors for people not being able to attend conferences and events. With hybrid events, attendees have the opportunity to participate and engage in important conferences and events in the comfort of their own homes.

How to Host a Hybrid Event

panel discussion at a hybrid event

In order to host a successful hybrid event, you need to go above and beyond simply recording the in-person event and streaming it to your virtual audience. You need to make every attendee, in person or virtual, feel like they are at the event and keep them engaged throughout.

Let’s go back to the drawing board and come up with the important things you need to do and plan for in order to host a successful hybrid event that will make you money.

1. Prepare in-person attendees and speakers

One of the most important ways to ensure your event will be a success and that it will run smoothly from start to end is preparation. The tricky part of hybrid events is that not only are you meeting the needs of the people who are physically at the event but even of those who are attending virtually. This means that all the speakers, presentations, live shows, performances, and Q&A sessions need to be effective when being live-streamed. 

It's a good idea to run rehearsals with speakers and with the technology you are using for the event. This will help you fine-tune any audio and video issues that may arise. You need to make sure that everyone tuning into the event will be able to access it and also enjoy the clear streaming and audio from beginning to end.

2. Choose the right platform

Choosing the right virtual event platform is important. Every event is different and you need to find the one that suits your event needs appropriately. As you plan out your event, you need to make sure that the virtual event platform has these important features:

  • Gamification
  • Live streaming
  • Networking capabilities like breakout rooms
  • Ticketing and easy login accessibility
  • Marketing integration - social media and email
  • Tech support before and during the event

3. Find innovative ways for attendees to stay engaged

Remember, you are not only engaging a physical audience, but also a virtual one. Your audience could also be from all over the country or even the globe! Keeping all attendees engaged during your event will be tricky but doable if planned correctly. Make sure to encourage participants to post on social media and share their experiences on their accounts. 

Keep discussions consistent and encourage attendees to network in chat rooms and break-out rooms with the virtual audiences. Most importantly, ensure that the guest speaker is able to communicate and answer questions from the live audience as well as with the virtual participants so no one feels left out.

4. Stay flexible and open to ideas

 If 2020 taught us anything, it’s to be prepared for any issues or hiccups that might come your way. It’s important to try and stay flexible if any changes within your speakers and sponsors occur. Whether this means to have back ups or switch to a virtual presentation you should be ready for anything. You can even allow for the audience to share their opinion and ideas that could improve user experience.

Why Should You Host Hybrid Events?

virtual presentation panel

In-person conferences will start picking up again, but that doesn’t mean you should say goodbye to virtual events any time soon. Here’s why you should consider hosting hybrid events moving forward:

1. Wider reach at hybrid events

The beauty of a hybrid event is that you can reach a much wider audience. Without the physical barrier of distance and costs of hotel stays, you are able to reach attendees in different parts of the country and even the world! Additionally, people who are not able to come because of cost, time or other restrictions, have the flexibility now to attend from wherever they want to with ease, giving them more of a reason to attend overall. 

2. Ability to collect more data

The added element of virtual participants allows for extra capabilities of capturing data and analyzing patterns they exhibited during the event. This is valuable information that can help companies generate leads, audit content and understand what their audience is really looking for.

With this information, businesses will be able to improve on their offering and tailor their products and services accordingly. Imagine all the revenue your business can incur when you tailor your services exactly to your audience's tastes and preferences.

3. Increase engagement with your brand

Technology has made so much possible. Not only are we able to instantly connect with someone from across the world, but we are able to share with and reach a larger audience. Hybrid events allow you to be creative and create components for the virtual audience to contribute to and have fun with during an event.

We are also able to gain valuable feedback and other questions answered by sharing surveys and polls that make it easy for people to submit. There are so many ways for your brand to create conversations with your audience than ever before. This is extremely important to keep your customers constantly engaged and entice them to share your brand with others.

Questions To Ask Yourself When Planning Hybrid Events

planning process

When planning any event, you first need to ask yourself a few important questions in order to have a solid plan moving forward. Some important questions to ask yourself before planning a hybrid event include:

  • What is the main topic and theme of the event?
  • How will I promote the event?
  • Who is my target audience?
  • Do I want this event to be global?
  • How will I make money from this event?
  • What is my end goal with the event?
  • Will I have sponsors?
  • What is my overall budget?
  • What is the ideal venue for the event?
  • How will I bridge the gap between my virtual and in-person attendees?

The Future of Events is Hybrid

There are so many benefits to hosting hybrid events for your business. Imagine the possibility of reaching hundreds of millions of people worldwide who can learn more about your company and build on their interest through your conferences because they can log on from anywhere!

If you’re new to planning virtual events, check out our Ultimate Guide to Planning a Virtual Event to get inspired to design your next virtual event.

Host ​high-quality virtual events, conferences or trade shows.

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