When planning a hybrid event, it’s important to think about tailoring each attendee experience as a journey. Pre, during, and post-event opportunities are all available to ensure you’re crafting a program that keeps both in-person and virtual attendees engaged, while delivering valuable insight, content and networking opportunities.
“I really do believe that if you don’t have a virtual component of your event, you’re really leaving not only money on the table, but leaving the opportunity of including a bunch of attendees who may not have been able to attend earlier.” - Will Curran, Event Industry Influencer
Consider these three points when you’re in the planning stages of your hybrid event to maximise your exposure and improve your event’s chances of success.
In-person & virtual attendees can’t have the same experience
Gaining traction during the pandemic, hybrid events are a prime example of how the industry has opened and evolved through economic and environmental change. However, it’s important to consider when planning a hybrid event that you will be catering to the needs of two audiences, both of which have different patterns of engagement, and different expectations of how your event is delivered.
While in-person attendance has more reliance on face-to-face interaction and practical hands-on activities, virtual attendance is likely to be more swayed by the program - think headlining speakers, presenters, sponsors, virtual meet and greets, and online networking activities.
Keep in mind you also have the tools at hand to facilitate interaction between the two. Successful hybrid events seamlessly blend elements of technology into the program, giving all attendees the opportunity to interact with each other. For conferences, consider implementing chat-rooms in which in-person attendees can connect one-on-one with virtual counterparts, or offering hybrid panel discussions where speakers can interact and explore ideas, regardless of location.
International Event Designer Tahira Endean believes the key is in crafting an experience for your attendees, rather than simply delivering an event.
“Design the experience. Know when and how you want people to interact – when are they listening, using a chat function, or following along with a wellness or dance or other activity, do they have an opportunity to engage – with the speakers directly, or with sponsors or with each other.
…Understand how you are using the platform and let people know the value of attending digitally live vs watching the recording later.”
Engagement measurements will look different
During the planning stages of your hybrid event, consider what metrics you are measuring for success. According to research by Bizzabo, around 70% of event planners list attendee satisfaction and engagement rates among their determinants for a successful event. a
KPIs for your virtual audiences and in-person audiences can be similar in nature, however there are going to be elements that differ. For example, since a hybrid event is opened up to a global audience, chances are registration numbers will be higher for virtual attendance.
Avoid measuring in-person and virtual metrics against each other, and instead focus on defining what success means for your event both in-person and online, and set data points up accordingly.
This could include:
- Number of attendees
- Social media mentions
- Room attendance
- Email engagement pre-event
- Materials downloaded
- Average event engagement time
- Questions asked
- Polls answered
It can be difficult to measure engagement throughout an event for online attendees, so consider sending out post-event communication for feedback on what they enjoyed, how much they engaged, and what they would have liked to see. Event management software can also provide you with the right data to analyse your audience, including where they're from, and what marketing material they found most engaging.
Consider your sponsors and exhibitors
Hybrid events open up a whole new world of additional exposure for sponsors and exhibitors. During the planning stages of your hybrid event, spend time crafting packages that combine elements of both on-site and virtual inclusions. All-inclusive packages can increase the likelihood of more sponsors and exhibitors joining your event, while also providing additional exposure for organisations.
Hybrid value additions can look like:
- Sponsors displaying banners on-site and virtually on the main event page or app
- Sponsored advertisements between virtual presentations
- Virtual booths, where sponsors can include logo, a short description, and team member available for live-chat or meeting bookings
- Sponsor-themed surveys, sponsored polls, or contests
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