Our world has undergone a pivotal shift this past year in many ways. In the world of events, virtual has reigned supreme this past year and that’s not going anywhere. But just as many companies are starting to bring in hybrid work settings, hybrid events are on the rise as well—and we’re pretty excited about it at EBA. Nearly 75% of event marketing professionals think that incorporating virtual elements into live events (ahem, hybrid events) are the way of the future. Now is the time for your business to be a trailblazer in the event space and get to planning your first hybrid event!
Here are 10 tips for how to boost your hybrid event strategy. And ultimately, provide you with greater event revenues in 2021 and beyond! Ready to take some notes?
#1. Choose a Venue Equipped for Hybrid Events
Whatever you do—when planning a hybrid event choose a venue or hotel property with a talented audiovisual team. Or choose one that allows you to bring in your own trusty A-team! You don’t want a limited-service brand with a team that has never handled live streaming before. Bigger brands like Hilton, Marriott, and Convene are offering solutions for hybrid events that you can trust to be executed well. Even better, hire a team like EBA to handle all this for you!
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to negotiate the venue contract or have a pro do it for you. A lot of the time the audiovisual terms can be negotiated upfront to save you time and money once a contract is signed! Think lessened shadow fees if you’re brining in your own team or steeply discounted rates for using their audiovisual team as the exclusive provider.
#2. Choose a Virtual Event Platform Equipped for Hybrid Events
Now there are two types of “venues” with a hybrid event. The virtual event platform is just as important as the live event venue. So, choose wisely! Not all virtual event platforms are the same. You want to ensure you’ll have all the capabilities you need—especially when it comes to virtual attendee experience and sponsor experience!
#3. Create Two Separate Event Experiences & Market Them That Way
At the end of the day, a hybrid event is combining two totally separate events. Each event with its own audience and planning needs. Then, you’re turning it into one cohesive program. Your in-person attendees are going to have a different experience than your virtual attendees. And each group is going to have a different reason for attending. Understand those reasons with pre-event surveys to your audience. Then, plan two separate agendas. But ensure they’re crafted in a way that virtual attendees don’t feel left out on site. Appoint a lead for the virtual and a lead for the in-person event and ensure they work together seamlessly.
#4. But Hybrid Events Also Require Engagement for All Attendees
That being said, while they’re two different experiences, attendees are going to want to interact! Schedule small breakout sessions for groups of in-person and virtual attendees. Or do quick 5-minute round-robin networking calls with attendees on-site and logging in from home. If you really want it to be neat, take it up a notch. Deliver a boxed lunch to the attendees at home to participate in the Awards Luncheon from afar and share in the same experience!
#5. Don’t Skip the Dress Rehearsal
While it may be a bigger investment, running through the virtual components of your event while on-site is critical to ensure everything goes as planned. Just as you wouldn’t let your CEO step on stage for their keynote without a dress rehearsal, don’t launch your hybrid events without total tech checks and run-throughs first.
#6. Sponsors, Sponsors, Sponsors!
One of the most unique opportunities with hybrid events to boost your event strategy is sponsorship. Since you’re offering virtual and in-person, sponsors can choose which platform they see the greatest opportunity for ROI on their goals. This means way more opportunities for branding, promotion, and leverage on-site and virtually. In fact, over 70% of corporate sponsors want to participate in hybrid events to reach both audiences—so that’s pretty promising.
#7. Send Out Pre-Event Communications to Set Expectations
Hybrid events are new for everyone. Make sure your attendees know what to expect! Send out communications beforehand so all attendees know exactly what they’re getting regardless of how they’re attending your hybrid event.
#8. Use In-Person Breaks as Virtual Sponsorship Opportunities
When your in-person attendees are nibbling on tasty catered breaks and networking, use those pockets of time to promote sponsors or offer unique sponsor opportunities for the virtual audience. This could be movement breaks with yoga, or a dance party led by a sponsor, fun commercials that offer entertainment value, or virtual breakouts of their own with fun goodies sent to VIP groups before the event to enjoy during the session.
#9. Host Your Speakers Live
In general, many studies have found that attendees are much less likely to travel to the event, or if they do, more likely to be disappointed by the event, if the speakers log in virtually. If you want your hybrid event to be a success, have all your education delivered live. Then, ensure for those streamed sessions you’re offering a moderator to engage your virtual attendees for Q&A.
#10. Leverage Content Post-Event
One major plus of streaming content virtually that’s presented at a live event is it can be recorded. Use video post-event for marketing purposes, additional paid sessions post-event, and more! The opportunities to create ROI are only beginning at hybrid events. You can leverage them all year round until the next event.
Let EBA Help You Design Hybrid Events That Produce ROI
Feeling overwhelmed by the opportunity hybrid events can provide for your organization? You’re not alone! EBA has mastered the art of hybrid and is ready to help your team. Let’s chat about your vision and how we can make it impactful and profitable!