Learn more about hybrid events, the importance of creating a seamless experience, get examples of successful hybrid events, and more.
Many event planners fell backwards into the world of virtual events, simply because they did not have another option. Adapt or you won’t survive was the sentiment in the uncertainty of pandemic times. But this back-against-the-wall shift to virtual events opened the door to new possibilities.
Somehow, events that were usually 50 people could reach 5,000 people overnight. The time and money that was wasted planning, flying, and Ubering just to sit bored in an outdated conference room, poof! Gone! The unexpected upside of virtual events became more evident as time went on. But with the world opening back up, people also want to get out and live again. Enter hybrid events. The perfect compromise for the new age of events.
What is a hybrid event?
Let’s simplify it—a hybrid event is an event comprised of both in-person and virtual elements. How much of each is dependent on many factors, but elements should only be incorporated to enhance or benefit the attendee experience.
What is the difference between hybrid and virtual events?
A virtual event occurs entirely online. Think of your webinars, livestreams, web conferences, etc. In contrast, a hybrid event has some of these virtual elements but is also accompanied by in-person experiences. Think of a hybrid event as the perfect middle ground between in-person and virtual events.
Why are hybrid events important?
Hybrid events are the “Switzerland” if you will. Some people are ready to stand amongst a crowd of 10,000 people without a care in the world. Others are still living more cautiously, or maybe they just don’t want to fly away from their families for several days. Hybrid events offer the perfect solution for these posed problems. They’re the happy medium to the complex landscape we live in.
What are the benefits of hybrid events?
Increased Reach & Attendance
- As mentioned before, a hybrid event opens the possibility to reach a wider audience. Without the constraints of having to physically attend in person, you open the opportunity for those who couldn't afford it, couldn't get time off, couldn't leave their family, etc. Not to mention with the latest technologies, you can open your event to audiences in different languages as well.
- Taking the leap of faith to secure a venue based on the fact that you think you'll draw about 10,000 people is a bit unsettling to most. With a hybrid event, you have more opportunities to mitigate this risk. For example, you can offer 2,000 super VIP tickets for those who want to come in person and another great option to attend virtually for a fraction of the cost.
Measurable Audience Engagement
- By implementing hybrid elements into your event, like having event app/software, you can more clearly gain insights into your audience and what they're engaging with. Sending out digital pulse check surveys, tracking attendee connections, and following the popularity of different content or sessions are just a few ways to measure the success of your efforts.
Sponsorship ROI Metrics
- Assuring sponsors that the return of the $20,000 they have sunk into an in-person booth at your event can be tricky. On the other hand, proving ROI on a virtual booth with the right event software is simple. For a fraction of the cost, they can see who entered their booth, for how long, what resources they engaged with, and get in contact with them post-event.
- This is our personal favorite. Once an in-person event is over, that's it. All that time, energy, and money just to move on to the next one. With a hybrid event, you can market your hybrid event long after the final session concludes. You can repurpose all the content you've recorded or could even sell a ticket for access to the replay sessions.
How do you promote a hybrid event?
Promoting a hybrid event is not unlike promoting your traditional in-person event. You should create a beautiful registration page, leverage your partnerships and contacts, post on social media, etc.
But a key differentiator for promoting a hybrid event is that it is imperative to be crystal clear about what the attendee should expect. Every hybrid event is different, so detail the aspects of yours. Are you offering different ticket types? Be sure to list the pros and cons of each. Make it clear why someone should spend the 5x ticket price to attend in person. Make it clear to the virtual attendee that it will be worth adding additional hours sitting behind a screen.
How are hybrid events run?
Fair warning: If you decide to adopt the hybrid event style, you’ll have even more moving parts than ever before. Fortunately, there are various event software platforms to help you along the way. These event technology platforms have features designed for the hybrid landscape, so taking advantage of one of these platforms is likely in your best interest.
How do you create a seamless and successful hybrid event?
We think a successful hybrid event is one that bridges the gap between your in-person and virtual attendees. One key factor is finding the right event platform to help you achieve this. But because there are also many different types of events, you should choose the platform that lends itself best to what you’re looking to accomplish. For some general “green flags,” keep reading.
Accessibility is Key
- We suggest finding a platform that offers mobile, tablet, and web options for your attendees, so they can call in from wherever they are. Because while your virtual attendee will be joining from their computer, your in-person attendee likely won’t be pulling out their laptop in conference hall. More likely, the in-person attendee will make use of the mobile version, and your virtual attendee will call in from their typical work setup.
Bring People Together
- Find a platform that helps connect in-person attendees with hybrid attendees. Each attendee should be able to make a profile with their bios, contact information, fun facts, etc. Then attendees can request to connect with one another whether they’re in person or at home. The value differentiator for the in-person attendees? Forget business cards! If they strike up conversation with the person next to them, they can connect right from the app. Now you have a face to the name which makes for easy communication post-event.
Content at Your Fingertips
- Having an easy way to store and track content can be a key factor in a seamless hybrid event. The attendees should be able to access any content right from their devices. During the event, they can save the materials that resonate most with them and revisit long after the event is over. As the event organizer, this helps provide insightful data to which content was the most successful. Additionally, you can send pulse check surveys throughout the event to see how the attendees are faring.
Of course, planning a successful hybrid event requires more than just the right event platform. It requires you to think creatively about WHY your attendees are there. What have they given you to attend? If the answer is their hard-earned money, then you may look into some more immersive experiences or gamification. Even if the answer is simply their time, you should still offer an experience that provides value to them. That is, if you want them to keep coming back!
Successful & Seamless Hybrid Event Examples
We think the best way to get the creative juices flowing is to get inspiration from other event professionals in the same boat. Take a look at some of these recent hybrid events:
The Digital Disruptor
The Digital Disruptor tagline is, “The only global event to attend to initiate your digital transformation the right way. Hybrid from Stavanger, Norway to the world.” And we couldn’t agree more! With a high-quality stage and the energy to match, the attendees knew they were a part of something special. This event used a great mix of multimedia elements to keep all the attendees engaged throughout the day, including interactive sessions, produced videos, music, virtual reality, drone cameras, and more. They truly took the hybrid meaning to the next level. Watch their wrap up video here.
The New Yorker Festival
This weeklong event hosted by The New Yorker magazine is a great example of how turning hybrid was even more fruitful. With a mix of in-person events around NYC and live-stream virtual sessions for the viewers at home, they were able to reach more people than ever before. We really loved the immersive, exclusive experiences they included to increase their in-person attendee count. Click here to learn more about this festival.
Juneau’s Art & Humanities Council
In its 21st year, Wearable Art: Intergalactic flew into new galaxies as a 10-day festival, going hybrid for the first time. The Wearable Art Extravaganza is the primary fundraising event for the Arts Council’s Youth Fine Arts Scholarships and Individual Artist Grants each year. We especially loved how they used their event technology platform for each element of their event. Read more about it here.
Ready to start planning your hybrid event? Get started with the best hybrid events platform today!
If you’re looking for an event platform, look no further. Cadence can help you create a seamless hybrid event that will save you time, energy, and money all while giving your hybrid event attendees an unparalleled event experience. Plus, we have a helpful, white-glove customer success team that can assist you every step of the way. What’re you waiting for? Request a demo now.