Hybrid events are the most common trend in today’s event industry. In fact, statistics show that “73 percent of event planners now think hybrid events will continue to be more common in the future.”
While most are in the hype with hybrid set-ups, some are still hesitant, and uncertain about the transition. If you are still venturing out the new waters of hybrid events, then this guide is perfect for you. Find out everything you need to know about hybrid events. Let’s keep the ball rolling.
- Effective hybrid event ideas for conferences, seminars, and fundraising events
What are hybrid events?
Now before we dig into the specifics, and details, let us first define what is a hybrid event. The simplest way to describe a hybrid event is that it brings people together with both in-person, and online elements. In hybrid events, you get to engage onsite attendees, and virtual attendees all at the same time.
This is probably the greatest benefit of hybrid settings: broader audience reach, and increased number of attendance. There’s also a greater return on investment in conducting hybrid events in addition to increased sponsorship, and networking opportunities.
Is the hybrid model fit for me?
The overwhelming advantages of a hybrid set-up somehow screen the stigma, and encourage more people to shift to this format. However, not all event structures, and conditions are fitted for a hybrid event.
Therefore, it’s necessary to evaluate some major factors to know if it’s something that will work for you, and your organization. On the side of the audience, these factors include their demographics, availability, preference, health conditions, and expected attendance. For event planners, and businesses, factors like production capabilities, budget restraints, and venue capacity are important considerations.
When you have a fair number of attendees eager to join the event live, and you have the capacity to provide the same high-quality content, and experience to your virtual attendees, then hybrids will make a perfect match for you.
Some of the most common hybrid events hosted in the previous years are seminars, conferences, fundraising gala/dinner, and product launches.
Common challenges with hybrid events
Conducting purely virtual events or hosting an exclusive live event is difficult enough. How much more doing it in a hybrid setting! In order to go through event planning successfully, you must be fully prepared to handle these common challenges:
- Effectively engaging 2 audiences at the same time
According to recent statistics, “audience engagement is the largest challenge when it comes to virtual events. The next biggest challenge is interaction.”
You need to connect to two different types of audiences, who have different attention spans, and means of consuming content, all at the same time. Making sure that both audiences receive equal opportunities, and the same quality content is also a challenge.
- Different time zones of virtual attendees, and live audience
Though the online aspect of hybrids provides access to a global audience, the different time zones of attendees add complexity to an already complicated model. According to a Markletic report on hybrid event statistics, “49% of event organizers stated that they faced difficulties with scheduling the event for an international audience with multiple time zones.”
When conducting a hybrid seminar, you must carefully plot the time differences of the participants. Failing to do so may result in participants dozing off during important sessions. Align your program to hours where your virtual audience is likely to be active, and attentive.
- Maintaining a seamless, and balanced program flow
Distractions, digital fatigue, and connectivity issues are some common blockers your participants might experience during hybrid events. That’s why maintaining a seamless flow from start to finish will be quite difficult to do.
- Short attention span of the virtual audience
According to studies, “you only have 8 seconds to capture virtual event attendees’ attention before it wavers.” Participants attending events in the comforts of their homes might receive too much comfort which might lead to napping during sessions or losing focus.
- Ticketing strategy
One thing that event managers are struggling with is making the right ticketing price for a highly diverse audience. Prices will obviously vary according to accessibility, and privileges.
Effective hybrid event ideas for conferences, seminars, and fundraising events
1. Keep in mind that you have one event with 2 audiences
Hybrids are not live streams of an in-person meeting. It is a set-up where attendees joining online can participate, and engage as much as those present onsite. In order to have a unified and seamless experience, factors such as a wholesome streaming platform, appropriate, physical venue, and high caliber production equipment among others play an important part.
- Wholesome streaming platform – Choose a virtual streaming provider that will allow attendees to participate through live chats, polls, breakout discussions, and Q&A sessions.
- Physical venue – Your hybrid event venue should have a dedicated space for live streaming, and recording sessions. The venue should also guarantee a safe in-person experience.
- Production equipment – In the virtual space, the audio, and video components of your event play a critical role in preventing your virtual audience from dropping out or losing interest. Along with AV equipment, such as video calling software, you should consider hiring a strong internet provider.
2. Deliver valuable, and relevant content
Content still remains as king. In today’s virtual space, a lot of competing content is available for your target audience. Making sure that you are delivering valuable, and relevant content will help you stand out from your competitors.
The hybrid model promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) that’s why it’s very important to craft content that adheres to these values. Decide on which parts of your content are going to be simultaneously broadcasted. May it be training sessions, Q&A portions, panel discussions or breakout sessions, it’s not wise to stream every in-person activity.
You could also opt to dedicate an exclusive virtual session by playing pre-recorded videos. Maximize engagement by having a Q&A with keynote speakers afterward. You could also do group discussions depending on the time. Just be mindful and attentive if your audience can still take in additional information.
3. Hire a professional moderator, and a hybrid-trained team
A moderator or a virtual host is necessary to keep your virtual attendees engaged, involved, and entertained. Giving occasional breaks to your virtual audience will help eliminate any online fatigue but you need to make sure that there’s no dead air during these breaks.
One effective way to do that is to have your moderator generate some casual talks or recaps from previous sessions. Your host can further interact with attendees by reading their live chats, and generating conversations. Hiring a hybrid-ready team is as equally effective as having a virtual host.
With the complexity of hybrid models, you need every help that you can get. This team should be well accustomed to AV production in addition to having the basic skills on conducting a live meeting.
4. Memorable, and engaging networking sessions
Networking is one of the most common goals of hybrid events. You can maximize networking opportunities in your conference or seminar by allowing significant time, and giving a conclusive space for attendees to connect to their peers or people of interest.
In your onsite venue, you can designate tables divided by some sort of screen for protection. You could also open pre-arranged breakout rooms where your virtual participants can enter, and interact with each other. You can just put designated people who’ll act as moderators in these breakout rooms.
5. Reasonable ticket prices, and a simple registration process
One of the challenges previously stated is setting ticket prices for each of your audience. According to ProGlobalEvent, there are 3 ways to price a hybrid event. The first is setting the price of a virtual version as a percentage of the price for the onsite experience. This percentage should not exceed 75% of the onsite ticket price.
The second way is pricing based on the content they want to access. This is effective for those who can’t afford to finish the whole event but have preferred sessions. The third one is a combination of both types.
Deciding for ticket prices is just a small part of the entire event logistics. You need to sell these tickets. But before that, you need a registration solution that will allow people to register online. Event Espresso is a WordPress event manager which will help you manage registrations online.
Our services will help you sell tickets online, collect payments, and send out links and customized emails. And this is helpful because it will cut down costs and effort on manual labor. In addition to that, Event Espresso helps you limit the number of your onsite registrants. This solution is perfect for hybrid events.
Events will continue to become more valuable in the future not only due to their marketing value but because of the positive effects events bring such as fostering connection, and belongingness among many.
Events make people happier, and promote positive well-being. So more than focusing on the marketing side, it’s important to use your events in bringing value to people. It’s important to know them first in order to meet their needs. Before launching your fundraising activities, it’s necessary to understand beforehand the reasons why people donate or support your cause.
May this guide somehow help eliminate existing misconceptions on hybrid events. Apply the mentioned hybrid event ideas for an easy transition. No matter how you choose to host your upcoming event, you need partners, and tools to help you carry out necessary, and tedious tasks.
Event Espresso helps thousands of event managers, and organizations manage their registration. Ensure a seamless registration for you, and your attendees. Try our free demo today.