Hybrid event planning guide

Event Planning Guide: Hybrid Style

What Is a Hybrid Event?

A hybrid event is a mix of both in-person attendees with a virtual component.  It’s not exclusively one or the other, it’s a bit of both.  Hybrid events are becoming increasingly popular in today’s day and age.  The meeting industry was devastated by the pandemic, with events being cancelled left and right and coming to a complete standstill.  Event planning has been reinvented during this time to engage and produce remote entertainment.

While vaccines are rolling out and becoming more and more available, attendees are ready to travel once again!  However not everyone is ready to travel yet, even with Covid-19 cases declining and vaccines becoming available, so hosting a hybrid event where your attendees can choose to safely meet in-person, if they are comfortable doing so, or they have the option join online and still feel like they are there with everyone in person.  Hybrid events have so many incredible benefits.

Looking to host a hybrid event for your next meeting or conference? Van Wagner is ready to help you create a memorable meeting for all your clients and employees!

Offer a Hybrid or Virtual Event?

First thing you need to do when deciding to host a hybrid event is decide if you need a hybrid event or can you just offer a virtual one.  Was this a large annual meeting with stakeholders and important executives present?  Did you give company updates and educational seminars and valuable training?  Or was this a small quarterly lunch and learning meeting to get everyone together for some team building?  Either option could be hosted virtually.  But after a year of non-stop zoom calls, some attendees have a bit of a virtual burn out.  That’s why a hybrid event is really your best option.  Your attendees can choose for themselves whether to remain virtual or to attend in person.

Related: Virtual Events

Make Some Preparations

When planning your Hybrid event, it is best to start the planning with the virtual attendees and plan accordingly.  They will need to have access to your streaming platform, whether its password protected or available to anyone, clear and concise instructions are best.  You will want to hire a professional production company to live stream the meeting, so your virtual attendees aren’t watching your mainstage buffer in the middle of an important announcement.  

You also don’t want your speakers or presenters asking if they are on mute or cutting out constantly.  Broadcast quality is always best when there is a virtual component.  Hiring the right professionals is the key to a successful event.  They will help coordinate and produce your content not just for your virtual attendees but make the content engaging and professional for the in-person ones as well.  

Find the Right Time

Timing is key to a successful hybrid event.  If most of your attendees are traveling a far distance, it may be best to have a general session later in the day to allow for ample travel time.  You need to also consider the time zones for the virtual attendees, knowing they will have a shorter attention span and will require lots of breaks in between sessions.  It might be best to host a half day in the evening the first day and half day in the morning the next to break up the different time zones.  

fireworks shoot off at an event

Create Activities

The in-person attendees can attend team building or receptions while the virtual attendees can log off or view the events in real time.  You may also want to consider pre-recorded content for virtual attendees to view at any time.  Whether it’s a message from the CEO or a new product launch, if it is an important part of the program, consider doing a pre-recorded video and then live streaming the Q&A session after.   Also, be sure to engage your virtual audience with polls and give them the chance to ask questions.

Related: Hybrid Events

Choose the Best Platform

There are many different platform options depending on your needs.  First you need to decide if you want to live stream the entire event.  Do you want to pre-record any sessions first?  Do you want to record your entire event so virtual and in-person attendees can watch at a later date?  When you host a hybrid event, the opportunities are endless.  If you want to incorporate sponsors to cover some of the costs associated with a hybrid event, you can showcase them on your platform, set up a virtual and in-person exhibit booth.  

Show 2-3 commercials of their services or products, provide attendee contact information for them to reach out to post-event, and set up office hours for virtually and in-person attendees to ask questions.  There are many companies out there are interested in sponsoring hybrid events, you just need to find the right fit and provide the right platform.

Select a Flexible Location

When considering your in-person attendees, make sure you are able to book somewhere that can be flexible with your needs.  Hosting a hybrid event doesn’t have to be hard, but it can be difficult if you don’t have the right partners working with you.  Make sure your venue is able to be cancelled if another shutdown occurs, or severe weather happens and suddenly no one is able to travel to your destination.  The advantage of hosting a hybrid event is your attendees will all be able to join virtually.  Once you have the virtual element arranged, you won’t have to cancel the entire meeting if something unexpected were to occur.  

You will also want to know your venue’s capacity based on social distancing and state mandates.  Your traditional crescent rounds might need to be switched to theater with 6ft spacing between each attendee, which will drastically cut into your maximum attendance. If the in-person registration maxes out your capacity, you will have the virtual option available so attendees can still experience the event.  

two men talking on stage

Provide Several Reservation Options

Another good idea is to offer different registration options.  Your top category should include the in-person experience as well as access to the recorded content post-event.  Next should be access to the virtual platform during the live event for those that can’t attend, and recorded sessions to be viewed at a later date and time.  After your event you will receive valuable meeting metrics to determine what content to cover for your next event based on your attendee’s engagement and response.

Hybrid events are the future of meetings. In 2020, virtual events ruled the world and companies saw the value in hosting meetings online, the cost savings and the expansive access as people all over the world could finally attend their event. Meetings in-person will slowly come back, but in the meantime giving your attendees the option to attend in person or watch virtually will help you deliver successful events once again.

Need to create a virtual meeting with a little help from the professionals? Schedule a consultation with the creative team at Van Wagner!

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