Remember the days when you’d walk into an event venue, spend your day perusing vendor booths, wrap up your day with a keynote speech and head home? No webinar replays, virtual panels, attendee waiting rooms...you know, the stuff that’s become way too familiar for event organizers this past year.
Gone are the days of one-and-done live events. We’re all itching to get back to our regularly scheduled in-person programming, but hybrid events offer the best of both worlds -- and they’re here to stay.
According to EventMB, “66.5% of event organizers plan to use hybrid as their go-to format once in-person events resume.”
Why completely ditch your virtual event strategy? Virtual events are a great way to reach previously-unreachable audiences; pair that with an electric in-person event, and the possibilities for audience engagement are endless.
Mastering the art of the hybrid can be tricky as we move into a more opened-up world. In this post, we’ll talk about different hybrid event formats you can try for your next meeting, trade show or conference.
Hybrid events are events that combine in-person and virtual elements. For example, if a company’s annual meeting is hosted live in Toronto while streaming to a global audience, that would be considered a hybrid event. Any combination of in-person activities and virtual offerings like live streams or on-demand recordings constitute a basic hybrid event.
Is “hybrid event” just a buzzword in response to the mostly-digital year we’ve all had? Maybe. Both virtual and in-person events are extremely valuable, and for different reasons.
Virtual events allow you to expand your reach in a cost-effective way. In-person events create valuable opportunities to connect, network and build brand loyalty. Hybrid events can sometimes feel like an attempt to force these formats together.
Hybrid events are most effective when in-person and virtual elements are allowed to play to their strengths. Simply put: the best, easiest way to run your hybrid event is to treat your in-person and virtual components as individual experiences. Platforms like PheedLoop that offer tailored platforms for on-site attendees and virtual attendees create a seamless event for everyone involved.
Engaging both on-site and virtual attendees at the same time is no small feat, but if your aim is to maximize audience engagement, a hybrid model that actively hosts audiences in-person and online is a great option. There are so many opportunities to get everyone involved. Why settle for a basic simulcast when you could incorporate audience participation, giveaways for attendees or even something like PheedLoop’s hybrid matchmaking feature?
Not only will you draw bigger crowds than ever with a hybrid format that allows you to host people on-site and online, but actively engaging both audiences means active engagement with your brand and your sponsor brands.
The more personal and entertaining your event, the “stickier” your brand will be with attendees. They’ll remember your event as the one where they got to ask a speaker they idolize a one-on-one question in a breakout room, or that time they got to play with cutting-edge tech at your trade show. Almost half of event marketers say that audience engagement is the biggest contributing factor to a successful event -- opt to actively host your hybrid audience to guarantee a home run.
However, you may run into logistical challenges with this hybrid format. From setting up both in-real-life and online exhibit halls to wrangling guest speakers for multi-platform presentations to making sure your tech infrastructure is strong enough to handle the demands of the day, putting on a fully-engaged hybrid event is harder than your basic broadcast. Robust event management software like PheedLoop can help you make it happen if your goal is max audience engagement.
If actively hosting attendees is like watching a football game at a stadium, decked out in your lucky jersey and eating all the hot dogs you can handle, passively hosting attendees is like kicking back on the perfect autumn Sunday to watch the game in the comfort of your own home.
Less experiential doesn’t mean worse! Passively hosting virtual attendees is another way to boost event attendance, reach and brand awareness.
This hybrid event format could look like engaging your in-person audience with interactive exhibits, Q&As, live entertainment - anything that gets your attendees to get up and participate - while people tuning in online have access to live streams of speeches, panels and the like. Virtual audiences could also gather at satellite locations to enjoy the event together in real time. If active on-site attendees are at the stadium and passive virtual attendees are hanging out at home, satellite viewers are enjoying the game at a sports bar.
It may not seem like the most interesting option, but choosing a hybrid model that passively hosts virtual attendees allows you to disseminate useful information to audiences around the world (in fact, Marklectic reports that 80% of people attend virtual events for educational purposes anyway). This hybrid format allows you to attract a vast group of people, entertain your in-person attendees and bring your virtual attendees in on the most important happenings.
There’s always the risk of your online viewers tuning out, but if your goal is, for example, to increase your annual meeting attendance or target specific clientele that live in a different country, this is a great hybrid option.
If you want the audience engagement and active hosting without the mind-boggling logistics, creating bespoke events for on-site and virtual audiences may be the hybrid route you’re looking for.
Remember, hybrid events are simplest and most effective when the in-person and online components are treated as individuals, and this hybrid format does just that.
Hosting the same event in two different formats makes it easy for you and your team to identify your goals. Discretely preparing your in-person and online events - treating the events as individual experiences, rather than forcing an all-on-one-day hybrid - means you can get specific with your metrics and use each event for what they’re best suited for. For your on-site event, maybe you’re aiming for a certain number of demo requests after the weekend’s sessions when people tested out your platform. For your virtual component, maybe your goal is boosting social media engagement with your brand. A hybrid model that actively hosts attendees at different times and in different spaces will give you super useful insight into how each event format works for you, your company and your goals.
It could be hard to recreate the same great event twice. Maybe your speakers are unavailable for both versions of your event and you have to adjust your programming; maybe some of your in-person audience engagement methods don’t really translate to Zoom. But if you’re looking to cast a wide net and engage both audiences on a timeline that works best for your team, this format will give you and your attendees ample options.
We’re all intimately familiar with the “WATCH THIS WEBINAR ON DEMAND!” link at the bottom of promotional emails at this point, but making your on-site experience accessible after the fact is a smart hybrid event format.
You get to put on a great event for your in-person attendees, and your virtual audience gets to enjoy it on their terms. Two events for the price of one.
An in-person event with on-demand video content is a stellar marketing tool. In the same way that actively hosting on-site events and passively hosting virtual attendees is an educational viewing experience for those watching from home, making keynote speeches, panels, Q&As and exhibits available online is a simple way to build a content library. People can come back to reference the valuable info shared at your event whenever they want, which gives you opportunities to drive traffic to your content and convert clicks. While you’re here, why don’t you check out some of our 20 Hybrid Event Predictions? 😉
The worry with in-person events and on-demand content is that it might result in low attendance and less tangible virtual engagement. But think of this hybrid event format as a longer-term approach to attracting new clientele and building relationships. Devoting your time to creating a memorable on-site experience and showcasing your amazing resources online afterwards can become a foundational part of your content library.
Hybrid events offer unique event opportunities as we enter a half-digital, half-physical world. Whether you’re looking at your hybrid events as a way to engage attendees all over the globe or as educational tools to promote brand awareness online, there’s an event format that will work for your goals. No matter where your attendees are sitting (stadium seats, sofas or barstools), they’ll want to tune in.
Need an event management software that makes hybrid events easy? Request a PheedLoop demo today.