If there’s one takeaway for businesses in 2020, it’s the importance of adaptability. In 2021, the business world went virtual out of necessity, but now that we’ve all gotten comfortable with the digital experience, it’s opening up new possibilities.
Organizations have seen the benefits of going virtual, and even as social distancing restrictions are being lifted, there’s both a desire and an inherent need to maintain a digital component in everything we do. The result is an emerging trend in the event industry known as the hybrid event.
What Is a Hybrid Event?
Broadly speaking, hybrid events are events that combine both in-person and virtual experiences. As social distancing restrictions ease and smaller groups are allowed to gather, the hybrid model allows organizations to host meetings and events with both a small physical audience and much larger virtual one.
Team meetings, sales meetings, company training sessions and town halls are all examples of internal events that can be re-envisioned as hybrid events, while conferences, trade shows and product demos are examples of possible external hybrid events.
When to Host a Hybrid Event
If you need some level of human interaction in order for your event to be successful, but know that many of your attendees will be unable to attend in person, a hybrid event is an extremely useful solution. If you’re unsure, a pre-event survey can be helpful.
Obviously, if more than 90% of your audience sways one way or the other, there’s no need for a hybrid model. However, if the time and cost of travel is a deterrent for a percentage of your audience, or some attendees have health and safety concerns, or the venue has capacity limitations, a hybrid event is an extremely useful solution.
Advantages of Hybrid Events
The benefits of a hybrid event are similar in many ways to the advantages of a virtual event. For one, you can reduce your carbon footprint by hosting less attendees, which is good for the environment and your reputation.
You’re also more likely to increase your attendance. The virtual component makes it easier to attract a geographically broader audience because there are no travel time or cost restrictions. However, going strictly virtual has its limitations, too. Take for example those who prefer face-to-face. While they might pass on – or tend to zone out during – virtual conferences, a hybrid event provides them with an in-person option.
When you host a hybrid event, your speakers and sessions are livestreamed for your virtual attendees, but they can also be recorded. You can then edit this content into short snippets for your social networks, or make the full presentations available for free or paid on-demand subscriptions, thereby creating evergreen content that you can reuse across multiple channels for years to come.
A hybrid event also presents your sponsors with double the exposure. By offering your sponsors more value, you’ll be able to attract more sponsorship dollars and, possibly even more sponsors, which can help offset the technical costs of a hybrid event.
How to Create a Successful Hybrid Event
The key to a successful hybrid event is creating two separate, but unified experiences. It sounds challenging, and it can be. While you get the best of both worlds with a hybrid event, you also inherit all of the challenges of planning both a virtual and an in-person event.
You’ll still need to create engaging content and secure engaging speakers, but you’ll also need to navigate time zone differences, dedicate an onsite representative for virtual attendees, and shift to an “event producer” mentality.
Will you create separate content/sessions for the two different audiences? Will sessions be livestreamed or offered on-demand? Will you create collaborative and interactive hybrid networking sessions? How will you get your sponsors/vendors in front of both audiences? It’s a lot to manage, which is why it helps to have a partner who has experience with hybrid events.
At Worktank, we’ve been helping global organizations and Fortune 500 companies host, promote and manage hybrid events for 20 years – long before it was a trend. We’d be happy to help you do the same. Contact us or give us a call at 877-974-8265 and find out how we can work together to create a successful hybrid event for your organization.