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The landscape of events continues to evolve well into 2021. Hybrid events are emerging and we are thrilled to see people gathering in person again! New challenges come with navigating these uncharted waters, but you’ve got this. If you stick to the purpose of your event and keep your audience in mind you will be able to pull off a great event! To help get you started, we’re bringing you 7 important considerations to make while planning your next hybrid event. These tips and advice will help you navigate this new experience and plan your best event yet. 

Your Virtual Audience Is Not An Afterthought 

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of having an in-person component of your event again. You’ve been waiting over a year and craving the connection and serendipitous moments only in-person brings. Don’t let this excitement shadow your virtual audience. They still need love!

A hybrid event done well offers experiences for both the in-person and virtual audience with opportunities for the audiences to converge. Consider creating experiences just for your virtual audiences such as sending your audience swag boxes to their front door, or providing cocktail kits, and having a virtual mixing class and happy hour.  

Below is a great example from Logo Unltd. This high-quality swag box is full of items attendees will use. They have everything from premium backpacks and apparel to tech devices. You’re sure to find something that will wow your attendees! 

Source: Logo Unltd 

AV and Production Will Play a Leading Role 

Gone are the days where designing a beautiful scenic design for your stage is enough. With a hybrid audience, your AV and Production now require you to not only deliver a great in-person audiovisual experience but hybrid events require the technical skills to also mirror that experience online. One camera from the back of the house isn’t going to cut it anymore. When your attendees attend virtually, you are competing with many outside factors –kids, dogs, work, and even Netflix!  To combat virtual fatigue, consider bringing in multiple camera angles, or creating a live broadcasting studio for a more dynamic live stream. 

Ensure there are ways for your virtual audience to participate by offering a live chat and Q&A. To make the experience more interactive, we suggest having a moderator that can help merge the audiences and ask questions for the virtual audience at the in-person event. 

SHW is leading the charge in hybrid event production. We are proud to have them as a partner. Below is a behind-the-scenes peek into the live streaming for our very own Industry Conversations. A great production partner makes for a smooth event and positive attendee experience! 

Source: SHW Worldwide

Content Reigns King 

The average attention span is only 12 seconds. If you want to keep your audience captivated you’re going to need great content. You can only produce great content if you understand what your audience wants. Before your event send out surveys to find out what your audience is interested in learning about at your hybrid event. Take their feedback and design your content around it. 

Below is an example of a simple form you can make using Typeform. In this survey, the event producer asks what topics their guests are most interested in learning about at their event. Ask additional survey questions such as their preferred session length, or what type of experiences they are looking forward to most (networking, workshops, and more). By taking the time to ask, you can then tailor the experience and give your attendees what they want. 

Source: Typeform

Hybrid Event Content Should be Delivered Carefully 

Once you know what your attendees are interested in, it’s important to think about how you deliver your content. Consider the suggestions below while planning content for your next event. 

Make it On-Demand 

Hybrid events allow people to attend from all over the globe. Not all of your attendees will be able to make a 10 am session on the East Coast, make sure you offer your sessions on-demand so attendees anywhere can catch the replay when it makes sense for them. On-demand content not only will help overcome time zones but is a great option for in-person attendees to catch sessions they missed too! 

Create Exclusive Sessions for Both Audiences

Make sure to include everyone in major events such as keynotes and opening remarks. Also consider offering exclusive sessions for both your virtual and in-person audiences too. Offer hands-on workshops in person. For virtual events consider making a few intimate breakout sessions where attendees can interact face-to-face on a video conference. 

Hybrid Events Create Compelling Opportunities for Sponsorship 

With a hybrid event, your sponsors have access to both your in-person and virtual attendees. This extends their reach well past what was possible before. The virtual component of a hybrid event offers many new ways for sponsors to reach attendees so be sure to include some of these options in your sponsorship packages. 

Virtual Opportunities:

  • Graphics during sessions 
  • Banner Placement 
  • Virtual Exhibition Booths 
  • Video Ads 
  • Virtual Product Demonstrations 
  • Sponsoring Sessions 

Virtual sponsorship also offers unique insights into metrics. Many platforms offer insight into the number of virtual attendees who went to sponsor websites, who clicked into sponsor booths, engagement metrics, and more. 

At an in-person experience, you can also have sponsors engage with your attendees. Make the most of these sponsorships by creating experiences they may not be able to replicate online.

In-Person Sponsorship Opportunities: 

  • Exhibition Booths 
  • Video Placement before sessions
  • Sponsored events such as happy hours
  • Sponsoring Sessions 
  • Handing out branded swag 

Plan For Hybrid Events To Be More Expensive

Possibly the most common question we hear surrounding hybrid events is “How much will this cost me?”. While we are still in the early phases of hybrid events it’s likely your event budget is going to need to increase, perhaps even double. You will now incur costs for in-person and virtual staff, digital components like an event platform and live streaming services, AND in-person costs such as your venue, food, and beverage plus additional costs for health and safety measures.  

Don’t Go It Alone! Lean on Your Partners 

A great partner will help make your event experience the best it can be. Lean on your partners for areas you need help with. Consider partnering with a great production company to help you live stream the event and create a great experience for virtual attendees, and depend on caterers to help figure out the best way to offer food and beverage options in creative ways to keep guests safe. A network of great partners will help support you through the new world of hybrid events and make the process less stressful! 

At Northwest Event Show we rely on our partners to get through our biggest and best events. We would be nothing without our community. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a partner, click here

Leverage Your Post Event Data! 

The event is over, which means you’re done right? Not so fast! Now it’s time to gather your event team and take a deep dive into your data and analytics. 

Pull data from your event platform and apps to see which sessions were most attended, how long virtual audiences watched sessions. 

Send out post-event surveys to your attendees, sponsors, and other stakeholders. Surveys will allow you to gain valuable insights into what attendees, partners, and stakeholders liked and disliked and how you can make your next event even better. 

Must-Ask Post-Event Questions: 

How satisfied were you with the event? 

What was your favorite session?

How can we improve our next event?

Would you recommend this event to your friends?

Take what you learned, document it, and apply your findings to your next event. 

Hybrid Event Tips Recap: 

  • Hybrid Events are still very green. Be flexible and open to changes as they evolve. 
  • Keep in mind your attendees. Surveying them before and after the event will help you plan events your attendees are excited to come to. 
  • It takes a village so lean on your partners to help you create a spectacular event. 
  • Your virtual audience is just as important as your in-person attendees, be sure to design elements of the event so that they are engaging for those online.