At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, every organization has pivoted to virtual events. However, ever since vaccination has rolled out and travel restriction has loosened, you may have noticed that most events combined and brought the best out of both in-person and virtual experience. This is known to us as hybrid events.
Hybrid events allow you to provide participants with face-to-face networking possibilities they most desperately want right now while also taking advantage of better reach and safety through virtual events. Hybrid events may seem to be the most ideal ways to run any events moving forward but hosting them comes with a set of challenges as well. This is particularly true if this is your first time organizing a hybrid event.
Having managed numerous hybrid events since 2020, we have put together useful tips on how you can tackle the challenges that come with organizing and managing hybrid events.
1. Know Your Audience
Prior to any sort of planning, you should first understand your audience. It is crucial that you spend some time getting to know the people you’re targeting to attend your hybrid event and the values your event can provide to them. Only by doing this will you be able to curate a suitable event experience for your audience which we will cover more later in this post. Apart from that, you will also be able to craft the right marketing approach, decide on the ideal event platform and most importantly, develop a contingency plan should things don’t go as planned which brings us to the second tip.
2. Have a Solid Backup Plan to Navigate through the Unexpected.
If 2020 taught us anything, it was that things move quickly and unpredictably. Covid cases may be all time low this week and swiftly rise the following week, causing authorities to take drastic measures to increase security measures. Events are the same and now with the pandemic, we are being left in the dark. Therefore, to plan for a hybrid event, we should always have a contingency plan. You may need to make a swift decision to convert the event to fully virtual.
If you’re expecting in-person speakers or participants who are travelling to your events from another state or country, you may also want to be flexible enough to provide them the option to attend virtually should travel bans are imposed from wherever they are coming from.
3. Go for a Reliable Event Technology Provider.
When it comes to virtual events or online meetings, all people could think about is Zoom. However, to run a successful hybrid event, you will definitely need more than Zoom. You need to be willing to invest in event technology that allows you to create interactive virtual sessions that will captivate your audience and lead to engagement. In addition to typical chat and polling choices, be sure to look for platforms that include advanced capabilities such as networking lounge, Q&A tools, detailed event analytics as well as the option for you to add custom pages. These are the common features of Evenesis virtual event platform, which makes it ideal for hybrid events.
4. Engage a Reliable and Professional Team.
You may think anyone can just create a Zoom account and organize an event but that is far from the truth. To run a successful hybrid event, you will need a reliable team of professionals who know what they are doing virtually as well as onsite at the event venue. These are the people who can think out of the box to solve your critical issues during event days with their skills and experiences.
5. Curating a Great Event Experience for Your Audience.
Always remember that hybrid events involve two distinct groups of audience: in-person attendees and virtual attendees. You must examine the requirements and expectations of both types of attendees to properly manage their experiences and ensure that they derive value from attending your event.
For In-person attendees: Focus on the benefits that can only be obtained from attending live events with other people for in-person participants. Provide several opportunities for networking, building contacts, and engaging in in-depth small-group conversations.
For virtual attendees: Enhance the virtual experience by providing exclusive virtual content and have access to on-demand content. You can also include gamification features on the virtual event platform such as virtual photo booth, mini games, polling, quizzes, entertaining videos, etc to keep the online attendees engaged.
6. Follow-up with your attendees post-event.
In any event, be it in-person, virtual or hybrid, it is a recommended practice to get in touch with your attendees after the event to thank them for participating. You can follow up with them by delivering on-demand videos and encourage them to engage with your brand further. On top of that, you can also send them a survey form to get their feedback on what they like and what are the areas that you could further improve on.
7. Prioritize the Safety of In-Person Attendees.
Last but not least, we need to highlight the importance of safety because Covid-19 is still a real threat with new variants. Your reputation as an event organizer, as well as the reputation of your clients, will be jeopardised if a cluster breaks out. In-person attendance must follow safety precautions such as social distancing, extra cleaning, and vaccination requirements. Make sure you’re familiar with the rules in your area and that you follow them.
Hybrid events are a trend that isn’t going anywhere. We hope the tips above we learned collectively in Evenesis whilst managing numerous hybrid events throughout 2020-2021 can be a useful head start for you to consider hybrid events in the future.