Despite the fact that the landscape of the event industry has shifted to online these days, nothing can compare to the irreplaceable face-to-face interactions during physical events. We believe that in-person event’s popularity will rebound once this pandemic is over. Nevertheless, this crisis has also taught us that event professionals and their suppliers who employ digital approaches to personalise every attendee’s experience will earn a better return from their events. It is predictable that hybrid events are the future trend.
A hybrid event is the combination of a live in-person event and virtual online components. With the right technology, you can sync the content and engagement features so that both live and online attendees can have a similar experience. Depending on the set-up and cost, virtual attendees should be able to hear the presenter, view the presentation slides, and even see the presenter in real-time via live streaming video. In most cases, in-person and virtual attendees can participate in the same session concurrently.
Why are hybrid events gaining popularity
While all of your events have individual goals, an overarching goal for all hybrid events should be to engage as many attendees as possible. A hybrid event also adds value with the flexibility to engage virtually. The goal is to make the experience equally riveting for both physical and virtual audience groups. Beyond border, hybrid events provide the opportunity for even more people to interact with your content and your brand.
“Hybrid events are perfect for organisers who look for greater reach and higher flexibility.”
Now that your event is hybrid, you no longer need to worry about the physical limitation in terms of the event scale and audience geography. It will sit in the audience’s mind for a longer period as you can do multi touch online and repurposed content opportunities throughout the year. Hybrid events also add value on registration revenue and sponsor revenue. Your sponsors have the opportunity to double the exposure they had before. Hosting part of your event in a digital environment creates new opportunities for brand awareness and lead generation. By offering your sponsors more value, your event will attract more sponsorship dollars and even more sponsors.
5 Best Practices for Organisers
1. Extra Preparation and Rehearsals
- The hybrid event information such as slides, videos and PDFs has to be loaded onto the web streaming portal and tested in advance.
- The exact requirements will depend on the system and provider but make sure you understand fully the deadlines and complexities and how much flexibility (if any) there is for changes.
- Speakers should be able to talk through and understand the technology with the event planner and technicians. Ideally there should be time for a short rehearsal.
- Have a short briefing with speakers on how to come across well on camera.
- A dry run is a must to ensure technology works properly and speakers can be seen and heard clearly. Be aware of the sound and ensure presentation visuals can load without a hitch.
2. Timing the Event
- Have a stream rewatch session with the speakers available for personal interaction.
- Break down your target audience by time zones and consider their normal work days.
- Set a timed schedule for strong engagement.
- Make recordings available afterwards for attendees who missed the sessions.
- Schedule breaks that are long enough for audiences to have meetings/discussions in between livestream sessions.
Leverage the Social Influence
- Create a dedicated Event Hashtag
- Encourage speakers, exhibitors, sponsors and participants to use the branded hashtag throughout the event across different channels
- Filters, badges and geo-tagging can be some fun ways to engage audiences on social media
3. Engagement Deepens with Networking
- The virtual event platform should include feedback loops, Q&As and chat rooms
- Inclusion of social media hashtags, video feed from pop-up venue and even live chat to take the conversation across channels
- Have a team monitor the submissions, field questions and get them to the speakers promptly.
- Assign online moderators for chat room to post opinions and encourage input
- Speakers are advised to encourage assimilation of information and personal connection
4. Capture Relevant Virtual Experience Analytics
Testing and iteration are key components to your continued success. Measurement of in-event metrics, e.g. engagement points, speaker approval, onsite conversion, sponsor touch points, etc. should be taken. The most ideal way is to operationally connect your virtual tools to your event platform. This allows for better continuity and higher operational efficiency when designing a hybrid event and it keeps all your data in one place.
A good hybrid event platform can collect data from all of your applications, from registration process to the stats on your landing pages, into one master dataset. Event organizers and exhibitors will be able to view the aggregated data and create actionable reports that give the complete story on your hybrid event performance.
Due to the advantages that hybrid events have fewer physical limitations, increased sponsorship values and content engagement, it is of no question that this type of event has already become a new trend in recent years. It is hoped that event professionals will bear in minds the aforementioned principles of practices while organising hybrid events.