The global pandemic has broadened the market for virtual events out of necessity, in addition to exposing organizers and attendees alike to how effective a virtual setting can be.
As live events regain popularity, organizations are still leaning on virtual technology to ensure all attendees, however, they’re participating, are provided with a great experience. This shift has made hybrid events a hot topic in recent months.
73% of event planners believe hybrid events will continue to be more common in the future, indicating that the global pandemic will have lasting effects on how we plan and host events. And while 71% of companies with over 5000 employees already have hands-on experience with hybrid events, a different study reports that 71% of event planners see connecting their in-person and virtual audiences as their biggest challenge.
Image Source: Markletic
In short, organizations understand that embracing hybrid event strategies is a must going forward. But they’re still ironing out the kinks on how to do so successfully.
What is a Hybrid Event?
Let’s first zoom out to get a sense of how hybrid events have evolved into what we know them to be today.
Hybrid was a term initially coined from other industries, essentially referring to a blend of strategies, processes, or procedures to create something new. In the context of event planning, both in-person and virtual event management tools have existed for a while, but independently from one another. Today, hybrid events combine the best of both worlds in order to delight and excite attendees, regardless of how and where they’re experiencing the event.
While they might not have been on your radar, hybrid events did exist pre-pandemic. However, these early hybrid events provided few to zero engagement opportunities for virtual attendees, resulting in a lackluster experience for everyone not physically in the event space. In the past, if you were virtually attending a “hybrid” event, you were likely functioning more as a spectator than a participant.
Fast forward to today, and the mindset around hybrid events has dramatically evolved. As venues started to re-open their doors to in-person events, organizations had to optimize their live streaming solutions in order to create digital venues that provided remote attendees with an event experience on par with the in-person one.
For this reason, today’s event organizers need to merge the best elements of virtual and in-person events in order to cater to the varying needs of their attendees.
How To Implement a Hybrid Event Strategy
Define What Hybrid Means to Your Organization
Before you dive headfirst into planning a hybrid event, you should first ask yourself, “How do I want attendees to experience our event?”
Are most of the event sessions you have planned mainly geared towards in-person attendees? Is your physical venue space not going to be able to accommodate as many folks as you would like? Maybe you’ve already developed great content ideas to enable online participation?
Additionally, event planners need to have safety and security top of mind for any events that bring people together in the same room. 79% of event organizers cite the health and safety of attendees and staff as the prevailing reason for having to cancel an event. Before you can get into the logistics of planning event sessions and marketing collateral, you need to ensure that people attending your event in person will be able to do so without worrying about the looming pandemic.
Defining what hybrid means to your organization is the first step towards planning an impactful event. Your industry, attendee expectations, average event size, and other factors will all dictate whether a hybrid event makes sense for your organization. Taking your live event and adding a virtual component to it requires a lot of work, so determining from the start if a hybrid event is in your best interests could save you major time and money in the long run.
Decide How You’ll Measure Success
If your hybrid event is a smashing success but you ultimately don’t have any hard data to show for it, did it really happen? Of course, the answer is still yes, but having a strategy in place around collecting data before, during, and after your event will ultimately position your organization to fine-tune its event marketing strategies for peak performance the next time around.
Data collection for hybrid events isn’t as straightforward as it would be for a strictly in-person or virtual event. During your event, you’ll have to implement a variety of engagement opportunities in order to give everyone a chance to provide feedback, such as:
- In-person polls
- In-session survey feedback
- Conversations with salespeople or presenters
- Online polling
- Virtual Q&As
You can also reach out to your attendees post-event, either via 1:1 networking, social media engagement, or an email nurture campaign to uncover a wealth of engagement statistics around what worked well at your event and, more importantly, what could have been improved.
Before you get into the nitty-gritty details of planning your event, make sure you have a clear understanding of how your organization will measure success when it’s all said and done. From the get-go, make sure everyone is on the same page regarding data collection strategies.
Invest in Reliable Toolsets
Event planning is stressful enough as-is. Ideally, your time should be spent on carrying out quality work, as opposed to tediously managing the tools that enable you to perform. When it comes to investing in the right tools and technologies, your organization will have no shortage of options. But this abundance of possibilities can make it even more difficult to know what resources are going to work best for you.
Many event organizers have become comfortable with their standard operating procedures, and aren’t eager to change things up when their traditional event management strategies have sufficed. But with the right event management tools, your organization can capitalize on previously undiscovered opportunities and help you derive more value from your events.
Aventri has an end-to-end solution that streamlines and simplifies your event planning responsibilities. Joining forces with MeetingPlay, we’ve blended innovative technology and best-in-class service to close all gaps in the event planning process. We’re proud to be offering the most complete full-service solution for meetings and events, whether they be in-person, virtual, or a combination of the two.
We’ve successfully powered many of the largest, most complex global events to date across numerous industries. Discover how our platform can help make your next event one to remember.
Flexibility + Scalability Will Drive Hybrid Success
At the end of the day, hybrid event planning strategies will look different for every organization. With the industry remaining in constant flux, event organizers will need to remain agile and innovative when it comes to accommodating attendees, regardless of whether they’re in the room or across the world.
Working with a top hybrid events management platform is no longer a nicety for most organizations, but a necessity. An event management infrastructure that prioritizes safety, scalability, and success will help you navigate through these uncertain times and consistently put on events that are memorable for all the right reasons.
Click here to see how Aventri can get your events back on track and better than ever before.