The event industry is undergoing a massive shift, one that will give your events greater reach than ever before, and you do not want to be left behind. The world’s leading event professionals are going all-in on the hybrid event model, meaning the virtual component of your conference can give you a competitive edge or widen your reach depending on what your goal is.
This is not the time to return to normal — it is the time to innovate and improve your experience for your audience and the organizer. To help you do so, here is a list of the top six things to know before planning your hybrid event.
1. Lean into the differences between the in-person and virtual experience
The biggest mistake you can make when planning a hybrid event is thinking the virtual attendees should just be watching the in-person event. An event is an experience – while it will be different for both parties, you should make an effort to provide both in-person and virtual attendees a uniquely tailored experience.
Whatever you have for your in-person attendees, make sure it exists for your virtual attendees. Try to plan your activities so that there’s always something for both virtual and in-person attendees to do. If it’s not possible for them to participate in the same exercise, make sure that each group has their own experience happening simultaneously. Both groups should have a separate event coordinator available as a resource to make sure they get the most out of their experience.
Virtual networking is actually easier to coordinate, more extensive, and user friendly. Exclusive virtual panels and interviews are the perfect way to include your virtual audience and allow them to interact with fellow virtual attendees.
2. Meet your hybrid event audience where they are
The beauty of hybrid events is that it opens the door for participants to attend your event on their schedule. We love flexibility! Be aware of who your virtual audience is and cater to them accordingly to ensure they maximize their experience.
Are your virtual participants professionals attending during working hours from their desk? Then make the day much more structured with live streamed keynote speakers, a moderated online chat, and specified blocks of time for happy hours and networking.
Over 75% of virtual attendees are concerned about access to a recording version of the event.
Are your virtual participants attending but cannot log on for the live stream due to work or other responsibilities? Record the event and make the keynotes available online. A Whova survey revealed that over 75% of virtual attendees are concerned about access to a recording version of the event. Simply email participants a reminder after the workday to watch the recordings and invite them to leave their thoughts in a forum.
3. Use your hybrid event as an opportunity to promote diversity
Hybrid events are eliminating barriers to entry. By eliminating the cost of travel and the time required to attend the event, more people can benefit from your event than ever before, including members of minority communities who may not have had this flexibility before.
Members from diverse communities need to be at the events where industry decisions are made, change happens, and knowledge is shared. Being present is key to moving from talking about diversity to practicing inclusion (actions speak louder than words, thanks mom). Additionally, you can now include speakers from all over the world virtually to help complement the in-person speakers and expose your in-person attendees to diversity of thought.
4. Strategically facilitate networking
Networking by the coffee cart is so y2k (and by that I mean outdated). Being intentional about networking will benefit the people coming to your event, and in turn, you. According to a survey conducted by Markletic, 81% of event organizers feel that networking abilities are key to audience satisfaction when it comes to hybrid events.
81% of event organizers feel that networking abilities are key to audience satisfaction when it comes to hybrid events.
Promote a space on your event website for people to connect over mutual interests and schedule meetings. At your venue, designate one space for in-person networking and one space for virtual networking. Allowing in-person attendees to network with virtual attendees should be easy as to add to the experience, not detract from it.
5. Make or break time: your hybrid event speaker lineup
You can pull off the greatest meshing of virtual and in-person presentation ever and still fall short if you do not have the right speakers. To make sure your attendees walk away from the event inspired, do your research and consult a speakers bureau to secure the best speaker possible. For hybrid events, it is paramount that the speaker be able to cater to your virtual and in-person audience.
Check out our extensive database of speakers who can take your event to the next level.
6. Data, data, and more data
Now you can gather data at your event site and online to gauge which events were a hit and which were a miss. Using data analytics you can track:
- When your attendees were most engaged with the content
- When attendees logged off and stopped watching
- The total time attendees spent watching the event
- What questions attendees asked
- Which interactive features enables the most participation
Use this data to create marketing materials, improve your event for next year, and measure ROI.
With these tips in mind, you’ll be in a great position to host a hybrid event that will have attendees excited and ready for the next one.
Ready to plan your hybrid event? Contact AAE to get started.