Hybrid events aren’t a new concept, but as the event industry stages its live comeback, they’re being met with fresh enthusiasm. While companies like Cisco have been planning successful hybrid meetings for years, others are just getting their feet wet. As hybrid events come into their own, one thing is for certain: The term "adapt or die" is more relevant than ever. The good news? With adaption, there are opportunities for unprecedented innovation and audience growth. Let's take a look at some of these opportunities.
What Is A Hybrid Event?
If on the off-chance, you're unfamiliar with the term "hybrid event", here's an easy definition. Much as the name implies, a hybrid event combines elements of in-person and virtual experiences. This means that attendees, speakers, and presenters vary between being physically present at a venue and attending an event online.
The in-person portions of hybrid events are streamed live and/or recorded, saved, and publicized to virtual audiences. Most often, recorded content is available for a period of time after the face-to-face aspects have ended. As event technology evolves to provide a more immersive, unified audience experience (think on-property ambassadors and the like), hybrid events are eliminating barriers for guests who are unable to attend in-person. What does this all mean for corporate event organizers? An opportunity.
How Do Hybrid Events Grow Audiences?
There are only so many hours in a day, and no one can be two places at once. Because "life happens", audience members can miss out on awesome content, collaboration, and networking experiences. Hybrid events give planners and attendees more choices, making it easy to learn and interact conveniently.
By expanding an event’s reach to the virtual realm, you give more attendees the chance to participate, even if they can’t attend physically. This eliminates any impediments to your event that may have been placed by geographic location or in some cases, time differences. In fact, it opens the door to entire new audience sets. Think of a hybrid event as a way to expand your event reach without much additional overhead.
In the case of a technology user conference, you might double or even triple the exposure of your company and products by adding a virtual component.
On the flip side, audiences who aren’t comfortable operating technology or who prefer an in-person experience can still gain the value they’re after from your event. Hybrid events enable you to cater to all possible audiences and deliver your content to as many guests as possible.
Keep in mind that growth isn't all about attendance. It's about social noise, creating communities, and helping great content live on.
How to Plan Successful with Hybrid Events
The ultimate goal of any event is to provide attendees with a connective, valuable experience. But given that a hybrid audience may be large and diverse, it can take a fair amount of legwork to achieve the best experience possible. Here are some best practices for pulling off a hybrid event successfully:
- Amp up helpful communication — Share how your attendees can best prepare for their hybrid event journey.
- Make your virtual experience available to all attendees — Not everyone on-property can attend every session. So be sure to give on-site attendees access to virtual content to round out their experience and help your content live on.
- Avoid in-person crowding — If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it's the old "ounce of prevention" adage. Leverage mobile technology to minimize crowing in badge pick-up areas, etc. to prevent community spread of respiratory diseases.
- Share the On-Property Experience with Ambassadors — Connect your virtual audience to the authentic on-property experience through on-site ambassadors who can share live video with their phones.
- Find hidden value in user generated content — You know those hundreds of virtual chat messages? Take advantage of those to make adjustments and improve both your virtual and live experiences in real-time.
- Engage with your audience year-round — Ratchet up the excitement level by keeping your event at the top of your attendees’ minds with teasers and sneak peeks, even when it’s months away.
- Help your content live on — Instead of releasing all of your session content during your face-to-face component, release some highly anticipated content virtually before or after your on-site experience.
- Unite your audience with mixed networking — Create networking rooms that both on-site and virtual attendees can join before, during, and after your event.
- Unify your social feed — Increase buzz about your event by
- Leverage integrated event tech — Work with a partner with integrated technology like MeetingPlay to help you achieve all of the above with ease so your hybrid event will be a huge success.
Need tips on moving from virtual to hybrid? Get strategies for successful hybrid events.
How Do Hybrid Events Improve Data Collection?
Never forget the power of objective data. With traditional on-property events, data can be limited for many reasons. Event planners often rely on subjective feedback from data collection instruments like polls and surveys. Adding a virtual audience provides not only more data, but it's much more objective. Planners can gain precise insights into which sessions were most engaging, which presenters were compelling, and why attendees may have abandoned a session.
Hybrid events combine the best of both worlds when it comes to event data; planners can still receive personalized feedback from on-site audiences. Additionally, they gain reliable objective data and user generated content. This is powerful because you can analyze differences between what attendees tell you openly and what they're really thinking. Learn more about virtual event analytics here.
By nature, hybrid events can expand the reach and value of your events so you can get more people talking about your event, your company, products, and sponsors. Now that's growth!
Ready to go hybrid? Contact a MeetingPlay expert.