Planning for and running a live event can be a challenge. Last-minute cancellations and venue limitations are just a couple of the issues event planners have to contend with. However, thanks to the rise in virtual conferencing technology, hybrid events are becoming increasingly popular.
The hybrid model delivers the best of both worlds to organizers and attendees alike. Planning on hosting your first hybrid conference? Read on for the ultimate guide on how to run a hybrid event successfully.
What is a Hybrid Event?
A hybrid event brings together a traditional in-person event with the added reach of a virtual conference. Some people make the mistake of assuming a hybrid event offers little more than live streaming of an in-person event to a virtual audience. However, the true scope of a hybrid event is much broader.
Successful hybrid events leverage virtual event technology to ensure in-person attendees and virtual attendees alike enjoy a similar experience. With the right tools, a hybrid conference allows the entire event audience to engage with speakers, participate in group sessions, and generally look forward to richer, more immersive event experiences.
Hybrid, Virtual, and In-Person Events: What’s the Difference?
Virtual events are catered solely to online audiences, while a live event requires physical attendance. As the name suggests, running a hybrid event brings together elements from live and virtual ones.
There is some overlap between virtual and hybrid events. Both types extend the reach of an event, allowing for an increased number of participants, regardless of where they’re based.
In-person events were once seen as the best-in-class solution, offering unparalleled audience engagement. However, advancements in conferencing technology and hybrid event platforms make it possible for online attendees to engage with each other and live participants alike. Breakout sessions, online networking spaces, and other interactive elements are all readily available.
What Advantages Do Hybrid Events Have?
One of the biggest hurdles event planners have to overcome is ensuring a decent headcount. Travel restrictions and budgetary concerns tend to limit the number of people that can attend a physical event venue. With hybrid event planning, neither of these factors are a problem.
Hybrid event costs tend to be more affordable from the outset. However, a successful hybrid event also tends to deliver return on investment more quickly. They’re also a great choice for organizations keen to preserve their green credentials. Air miles, venue energy demands, and catering quickly amount to a sizable carbon footprint. By controlling the number of in-person attendees, a hybrid event is a far more eco-friendly option.
Just because people aren’t experiencing an event in-person doesn’t mean they have to say goodbye to the power of networking. With a full-featured hybrid event platform or mobile app, virtual participants can network with each other, as well as those attending the event in person.
Diverse Event Experiences and Industry-Leading Insights
The hybrid model is also an effective way of offering more diverse experiences. You can provide discounted pricing tiers for online-only participants and unrestricted access to premium event content for those who’ll be attending in person.
Planning a live event? You may struggle to attract the best talent. With a hybrid event, this isn’t a problem. You can secure industry-leading insights from expert speakers, even if they’re based on the other side of the planet. Additionally, more event sponsorship options become available.
As well as offering enhanced attendee engagement, you can use analytics tools during a hybrid event to monitor audience interaction. This makes it easier to secure a better return on your investment and fine-tune event strategies for the future.
Hybrid Event Planning: 8 Steps for a Successful Event
First time putting together a hybrid event plan? Read on for 8 essential steps you need to take when compiling that hybrid event checklist.
1. Define Clear Goals
Outlining event goals is an essential first step. You need to determine why exactly you’re hosting a hybrid event in the first place and what you hope to get out of it. Perhaps you’re organizing one to raise the profile of your brand or introduce a new product or service. Alternatively, you may be using one to nurture existing relationships with clients and customers.
Next, you need to consider what sets your latest hybrid event apart from the rest. Think about new experiences and insights you can offer attendees. This will help you create event content and inform your event marketing strategy.
If you’re depending on third parties to finance your event, you also need to think how event content is going to appeal to them and represent a sound investment. This will make it easier to identify potential sponsorship opportunities.
2. Choose Your Tools
Reliable and full-featured virtual event platforms are a must. With Gloww, you have a user-friendly video conferencing solution that can be heavily tailored to provide bespoke experiences. You can livestream keynote presentations, run live polls, and take event gamification to the next level.
Looking to extend the reach of your next hybrid conference? With Gloww, you can invite up to 1,000 virtual attendees to your online event. What’s more, everything can be customized to deliver a truly on-brand experience. Tailor layouts to your liking, call on your corporate colors, and add brand logos.
3. Identify Your Target Audience
At this point, you need to start crafting audience personas. Think about demographics, geographical location, and job roles. Media and technology consumption habits are also useful. To cater to in-person attendees, you also need to take into account things like accessibility requirements. All of this is essential in boosting event engagement and ensuring the content you’re offering has real value.
4. Get the Details Under Wraps
While hybrid events make it easy to cater to international audiences, you still need to consider time zones. If you’re thinking globally, consider organizing multiple sessions or pre-recording keynote presentations. You can even offer on-demand content to ensure nobody misses out. You’ll also need to lock down your budget.
Now you’ve established your target audience and allocated a budget, your event is ready to take shape. Start investigating suitable panelists and guest speakers, along with potential sponsors.
5. Conduct a Strategic Marketing Campaign
Frame your marketing campaign around the needs of your target audience. What channels are they most likely to engage with? All have their benefits. With email marketing, you can monitor click-through and open rates, while social media advertising can also prove fruitful. You can track shares, conversation rates, and other useful metrics.
Some event planners prefer to use physical mail. To guarantee a better ROI, use a unique URL in any physical correspondence so you can monitor the effectiveness of your campaign. Whatever channels you’re using, highlight the USPs of your event, whether it’s a stellar roster of guest speakers or unique networking opportunities.
6. Encourage Participation Throughout the Event
Actively engaging in-person and online audiences is vital. This can be as simple as using live polls and surveys to generate real-time insights or going deeper with trivia games, such as movie trivia, and collaborative sessions. As well as keeping your audience engaged, it makes your event a richer and more valuable experience for everyone.
7. Test Run Your Event
Technical difficulties aren’t unheard of, so you’ll need to trial any A/V equipment you’ll be using at your live venue. You’ll also need to test how the virtual side of your event will be integrated. As well as preempting any technical challenges, a test will give you a better idea of overall running time, allowing you to make last-minute changes to your event agenda.
8. Follow Up with Event Attendees
Just because your event ran smoothly, doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. Set aside time to gather feedback from participants to see what worked well and what areas you can finesse for the future.
Make an Impact with Gloww’s Hybrid Event Features
With Gloww, you can use live reactions so your virtual audience can express themselves. A simple emoji can be an effective way for your online attendees to let you know they’re engaged with a session.
Use word clouds to gather real-time feedback from virtual attendees. As well as engaging online participants, these can be used to produce illustrative insights for future reference.
With Gloww, you can make things more interesting with a live buzzer. This feature is particularly handy when hosting live Q&A sessions or when you want to gamify your hybrid event content.
Looking to make your hybrid event a more collaborative experience? With Sticky Notes, it’s easy to get online attendees working together and thinking creatively. Use them for ideation exercises or problem-solving activities.
Polls and Surveys
Take your pick from a variety of poll and survey layouts when you want to access instant feedback from your audience.
With Gloww, you don’t have to depend on unreliable screen sharing. Instead, you can upload your own videos or make use of a full library of HD content to add value to your events.
Start Planning Your Hybrid Event Today
As with the remote working revolution, online and hybrid events are here to stay. As well as boasting reduced operational costs, hybrid events offer increased reach and access to a richer pool of guest speakers and industry experts.
What’s more, it’s easy to segment your audience and deliver tailored experiences. With full-featured event platforms like Gloww, there’s no need to alienate online attendees in favor of in-person participants. Gather real-time insights with word clouds, live polls, and surveys. Looking to make things more interesting? Make sure your audience is constantly engaged with collaboration tools, immersive games, and interactive presentation templates. You’re also free to tailor your online sessions to your liking, with endless scope for customization.
Ready to put the wheels in motion? You can get started with Gloww today. If you’re interested in learning more about our advanced features, take a look at our pricing tiers. Got a question to ask? Drop us a message using the online contact form.