Learn how to master hybrid events and meetings so you can engage online and offline audiences alike.
What Is A Hybrid Event or Meeting?
According to Communiqué, a hybrid event or meeting “combines a live in-person event at a physical location with a virtual online component for remote attendees.” Hybrid events allow audience members to come together and take part in the same experience at the same time, from different locations. In an increasingly digitised world, more and more corporate event planners are turning to hybrid technology to engage with audience members in a new and exciting way.
What Are The Benefits of Hybrid Events?
• Expanded reach: By developing the virtual side of the event, you will be able to market it to a completely different audience, many of whom would perhaps never have attended the physical event.
• Boosts return on investment: Incorporating a virtual aspect allows you to extend the life of your event through the publication of premium online content. This could potentially create further opportunities for lead generation and monetisation.
• Increased profit: The addition of live video streaming could potentially add an extra source of revenue for the event as you could charge for online access to the videos content.
• Greater online visibility: Events with both a physical and an online presence generate greater user activity on social media, and this can be an enormous advantage when it comes to promotion.
What About Audience Cannibalisation?
Some event planners shy away from hybrid events because they fear audience cannibalisation. This refers to when potential attendees don’t go to the event because they can get everything they need online. However, research has found that the addition of an online element can actually grow rather than reduce audience numbers. In fact, a survey from teamings.com found that there were many other reasons why someone may choose to attend an event or meeting virtually rather than in person:
• 55% lacked the necessary travel budget
• 50% couldn’t afford time off work
• 45% cited cost in general
• 15% found out about the event as it was happening
In many cases, adding a virtual element is a great way to boost engagement as it appeals to people who otherwise would not have come at all. As Carolyn Clark, PCMA’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications, put it:
“It is difficult for people to see eye-to-eye when they are not face-to-face, but there are always people who cannot attend a physical event who can attend virtually. Not only does our virtual audience grow from year to year, having hybrid access has motivated more people to come to the physical version of the same event the next year.”
How To Choose The Right Technology for your Hybrid Event ?
In order to successfully deliver a hybrid event, it’s essential to get the technology right. It’s important to put some thought into the needs and goals of your event. So, before making the decision to invest in a certain piece of software or app, be sure to ask yourself these simple questions:
1. Will it add value?
2. Will it simplify some element of the event?
3. Will it solve a problem?
4. Will the pros of using this technology outweigh the cons?
Some of the most popular hybrid event technologies in 2019 include:
• Live Streaming
• Live Polling, Surveys and Q&A
• Live 360 Video
• Live Webinars
• Video Conferencing
• Virtual Reality
Top Tips for Planning a Hybrid Event
1. Employ a staff member whose specific role is to facilitate the linking between physical and virtual attendees.
2. Create a dedicated event website or app to provide all attendees with multiple virtual access points.
3. Encourage speakers to verbally acknowledge the virtual audience and to include information about how to use the virtual tools throughout their presentation.
4. If your event will have a large international online audience, try to schedule it in a way that is mindful of time-zone differences.
5. Remember to allow for a delay in response from virtual attendees.
6. Find ways to engage virtual attendees during audience breaks e.g. games, live video feed and chat centres.
7. Once you have designed the virtual aspect of your event, discuss your internet needs with your venue. Outline your requirements and ask how much bandwidth the venue can dedicate to your event over specific dates.
Learn How to Plan A Hybrid Event or Meeting in the Infographic Below