Events have a big role not only in networking, learning, sharing and experiencing but they also have a big impact on the economy. Face-to-face events are what we have been used to and we knew that virtual events will be part of the future. The COVID-19 pandemic just sped up the process world wide to move us to a more virtual era. The online world revealed its possibilities as people were stuck at their homes to limit the spread of the virus. The events industry suffered enormously from all the cancellations of mass events but it also opened up new opportunities. The pandemic changed the consensus to pro-online.
What is a hybrid event?
Hybrid event is a combination of both in-person and virtual components. The audience can choose to attend the event either face-to-face or online through an event platform, video or an app. Oftentimes, the online component can also be available to the people at the event location in person, depending how the event has been set up. You can hear more about what hybrid events are and are not from our webinar.
If you are wondering on how to organize a hybrid event, Liveto has a guide on how to organize a hybrid event, you can download the guide here.
Hybrid events have been around for a while
Hybrid events have been around for a while. It is said that the most effective hybrids are like TV shows. For example, sporting events and TV productions have had to take into consideration various attendee types from the onsite to offsite audiences. They have understood the importance of engagement within these events as well as understood that all these different attendee types will have different needs. For example, major sporting events include fancy halftime shows, on-field contests, promotional giveaways and commenting from the studio. Hybrid events give you an opportunity to add value by being able to reach more people (face-to-face plus virtual) and for that reason you need to be able to cater to both of these audiences. As hybrid events require new means of content delivery and engagement, you must be able to recognize the diverse audiences and their needs.
Almost like planning two different events
Planning a hybrid event is almost like planning two events due to the nature of them. What might work for an in-person audience, might not be working for the remote audience. It is important to create a sense of belonging for the remote audiences, taking their questions and providing them with exclusive content. Virtual emcees and facilitators are good for this purpose. You need to also train the speakers for hybrid events as they need to be even more engaging than normal. It is important to adapt the content from face-to-face to remote by offering shorter sessions and making sure that you are managing both the onsite and offsite needs and expectations. You can hear more tips on how to engage your remote audience from our webinar.
How to keep both audiences happy
Event organizers should aim to provide both in-person and virtual attendees with their own benefits out of the event participation, but not to favor one over the other. There should be a difference in how you communicate with your in-person and online audience. The ones attending the actual venue, will care about safety and hygiene, while virtual participants are more interested in how to use the event platform. Make sure that you think through the customer journey of both in-person and online audience. You can read more on how to create an event customer journey map here. Hybrid event organizers should strive to integrate the best practices from both live and virtual events in order to create unique experiences and exceed expectations of all participating groups. No matter what size or scale the hybrid event is, the goal is usually the same, make sure that you engage both in-person and online audiences for the duration of your event.
Although the event experience should be equally good for all the attendees, as a rule, ticket prices for virtual participation should be slightly different from the in-person event tickets, depending on the program and what you offer in each.
Hybrid events will be able to extend the life of the event
The event content will not just be for a one off event but can now be repurposed and shared with others. They make it possible to be more inclusive as despite not being able to travel to the event or have other reasons that would not be able to attend, those people now will also have an opportunity to take part in the event.
One of the big possibilities that virtual events can offer is the possibility to show recorded sessions. For organizers, this enables them to make additional sales from offering these recordings, and from the attendee perspective, it enables them to be able to see sessions that they might have otherwise missed during the event due to scheduling. They also have the opportunity to put some of this content online on social media and reach an even wider audience.
Adding value by reaching a more wider audience
Hybrid events enable more possibilities for inclusiveness. They also give you an opportunity to add value by reaching more delegates (in-person plus virtual), providing new content delivery and communication options. You will also be able to connect multiple events concurrently or at different times and locations. The pandemic made us create and use new technologies which in turn have enabled us to be able to share content, ideas and across multiple geographies and time zones. On top of that, people who had no chance of attending live events in the past due to travelling difficulties or special needs that would make it hard to get to the venue, can now join these events.
The same goes for limitations for choosing your speakers due to their travelling costs or their geographic location. You will now get online keynotes more budget friendly and they will have more availability with less travelling required.
Turning limitations into possibilities
No travel needed for some attendees or need to spend time at the event location more than necessary.
Helping the carbon footprint.
Ability to reach more people.
More scalability and can be replicated.
Travel or other mobility limitations or restrictions are being taken away, anyone can attend.
Enabling to share content, ideas and experiences across multiple geographies and time zones.
Event can be repurposed and shared with others.
Require more initial set up.
Possible technical difficulties.
Hybrid and virtual events are here to stay. What once was, will never be. We have to adapt to the change and the fact is, that the future will have both in-person and online audiences either separate, or combined into hybrid. As an organizer, make sure that you see the possibilities and plan accordingly to get the most out of these situations and opportunities. It is expected that approximately ¾ of event professionals are planning to host hybrid events moving forward.
The pandemic also moved us to wanting more from virtual events. We have learned that virtual events are not always boring and there is actually quite a lot that can be done. We have had the feeling that we can only network and have discussions if we meet in person, but with the new era approaching, where we will be able to connect the two, the competitive advantage of hybrid events is that online participants are given nearly as many opportunities if not even more.
Better sponsorship deals
Broader audience reach in combination with complex analytics creates a more attractive and trustworthy sponsorship deal for potential sponsors and partners. Sponsors also value the interactive features that allow simultaneous sponsorship integrations through the virtual platform in addition to being present in the venue. You can download a guide for event sponsorship here.
The first thing to do in order to succeed in attracting sponsors to your event is to get rid of the thought that in-person and online sponsorships are the same. In fact the strategies and instruments for targeting, engagement and evaluation are different and for that reason, the organizers who use them the right way will gain a more competitive advantage. Just like your event communication, the sponsorship promotions can take place before, during and after the event. Your sponsors will appreciate when the customer journey has been properly thought in advance. You will then also be able to shop your sponsors the added value and ROI that your event can bring them. You can read more about how to attract virtual event sponsors from our blog here.
Choosing the right technology
Choosing the right partner or platform can also help you in securing high engagement rates. The bigger the event, the more complex technological setup might be needed to guarantee a good quality event experience, this all depends on what you want to achieve. Be conscious about the selection of the event platforms and choose one that serves YOUR hybrid event needs.
Virtual event filming techniques
There are some questions that must be considered when you are organizing your virtual and in-person event. What are you organizing, who are you organizing it for, what resources you already have and who do you need to partner with for the parts that you do not have. Virtual event component has additional costs to it that your in-person event might not have needed. Do not be surprised with the costs as when you are planning a hybrid event, it can cost more due to the fact that you will need to make sure that you have the needed equipment and tools for streaming. The costs will vary depending if you are choosing to have a light stream with a Zoom for example or if you are planning to use a professional studio. You can read more about virtual event filming techniques from our blog post here.