The year 2020 marked the time when the world shifted from face-to-face gatherings to virtual events. Initially, it was challenging adjusting to the new normal, but people quickly became comfortable with digital setups.
Now that the world has opened up again, the event landscape has shifted. There is no denying the benefits virtual events provided (wider audience reach, higher attendance rates, etc.), and those in the industry want to keep capitalizing on these positive effects. This means another change is looming ahead—the shift from virtual to hybrid events. A hybrid event isn’t by any means a new idea. However, many are still unaware that it’s the best solution to accommodate both in-person and virtual attendees.
But how do you keep your audience happy and engaged in a hybrid setting? In this post, we’ll share our top insider tips!
1. Give Your Attendees Control
By giving attendees a choice on how they can attend events or consume your content, you will give back what the pandemic has taken away from them: control.
A hybrid event where the audience has the freedom to decide whether to join live or view the event on-demand, choose their seats, or how they want to engage is a lot more appealing than an event that doesn’t give them choices.
Provide options on how attendees can interact with one another—things such as chat functions and discussion forums.
Whatever experience you want to incorporate in your hybrid event, it’s important to try to accommodate as wide a variety of comfort levels and preferred options as possible for your attendees.
2. Align The Experience for Both Virtual and In-Person Attendees
Replicating an in-person experience is perhaps a virtual event’s number one challenge. For hybrid events, the challenge is almost similar: it’s about ensuring that virtual attendees don’t feel like they’re getting “less value” out of the event compared to their in-person counterparts.
How can you align the experience for both virtual and in-person attendees to avoid this?
Opt For Two Hosts
If you hired someone to host your event in person, why not have a second host who would actively address the virtual attendees at the same time?
Create A Virtual Attendee Interaction Space
Another tip is to leverage technology that will allow virtual attendees to participate and interact with other event-goers. This can be as simple as a chat box where virtual attendees can post their questions to conference speakers so they can be answered during Q&A portions.
Include Virtual Tours
You can also include remote event hall tours similar to already popular virtual museum tours for online attendees so they can look around and immerse themselves in the space just like in-person attendees.
Create A Virtual Swag Shop
Roll up your creative sleeves and incorporate experiences that all attendees—whether onsite or virtual—can enjoy. For instance, you can set up a physical and virtual swag shop where attendees can buy souvenirs and other merchandise.
When putting together hybrid events, always consider crafting the same experience in two formats. This may not always be possible—there are aspects of live events that cannot be completely replicated after all—but as much as possible, try to design as many shared experiences and interactions for both types of audiences.
3. Use Various Engagement Strategies
Engagement success in hybrid events depends on how you creatively bridge the gap between virtual and in-person experiences. After all, you want to give your audiences more than just a PowerPoint presentation or simply live stream what’s happening on-site from a camera at the back of the room.
Set Up Connection Booths
Allow both hybrid worlds to merge by setting up on-site booths where in-person attendees can call or connect with someone who’s virtually attending the event.
Include Live Entertainment and Dynamic Screen Production
Another tip is to include live entertainment, music, and dynamic screen production that both in-person and virtual attendees can clearly tune in to.
4. Master Your Venue and Tech
Two other basic things hybrid events need to be successful are excellent technology and a proper venue.
You need to do your homework to find the best technology to use for your hybrid event, such as audiovisual equipment, streaming tools, and reliable Wi-Fi. On-site tech experts who can operate the equipment and fix issues in case of technical hiccups are also necessary.
But aside from having the right technology and experts, you’ll also need a venue that has the capability to facilitate and support hybrid events. Make sure to bring your IT team onsite in advance so they can carry out the necessary tests to foolproof the event. Don’t forget to create a backup plan in case of network issues!
5. Make In-Person Attendees Feel Safe
After being cooped up indoors for almost two years because of the pandemic, people are eager to experience live events again. However, they still need to be reassured that it’s safe. Otherwise, they will hesitate to go.
Let attendees know that masks, temperature checks, social distancing, touchless event registration, and other safety measures will be enforced during the event. Make sure all these protocols are clearly stated in your marketing campaigns to help event-goers feel more at ease.
6. Allocate Sufficient Time for Planning
Hybrid events require a lot of planning. You need sufficient time to negotiate with vendors and suppliers, search for sponsors and stakeholders, invite exhibitors, etc.
A great hybrid event can’t be designed in just a few days. So never underestimate the time needed to bring the right partners who will support your event.
We Craft Hybrid Events That Drive Business Goals
Designing a hybrid event isn’t an easy feat. That’s why you need a team of experts who can plan and execute it without a hitch.
The Concierge Club is one of the leading experts when it comes to creating captivating hybrid events. We’re a premium, full-service events and experiential marketing agency that takes pride in bringing immersive experiences all across North America.
If you’d like to know more about our processes in designing hybrid events, contact us today.