Big sporting events like the Superbowl have stadiums that can seat 25,000 guests. But, 96M watch the games from screens at home. Hybrid events deliver broader audience reach, increase monetization opportunities, and a better customer experience with minimal effort.But just because events feature a hybrid component doesn’t mean that the audience is listening. Engagement is the epicenter of success for any event. And for event profs, organizers, and planners, virtual event attendees dropping off is one the biggest nightmares. How can you keep this to a minimum for your hybrid events and engage both in-person and virtual attendees all the same? Here’s our take on 20 easy engagement ideas for hybrid events.
1. Set the right expectations
Attendees can be confused about what to expect from a hybrid event. You want your in-person attendees to enjoy the event to the fullest. At the same time, you do not want your virtual attendees to feel like they’re missing out on something.Engage your audience with an animated video that walks them through the event and explains what their hybrid experience will look like. You can also host a pre-event session to help attendees navigate through the lounges, networking rooms, polls, Q&A, activity feed, and more.
2. Segment the event agenda into videos
Agendas outline each of your session’s purpose, duration, date, and time. They help attendees get clarity about what their time at the event may look like. The best way to get your attendees to pay attention to this crucial information is through short-form video content, 30-45 seconds each, that explains your agenda. Capture the user’s attention by drilling a hook in the first 3 seconds of your video. By doing this, you can intrigue and excite our audiences about your event agenda. This can help you increase in-session engagement.
3. Explore the power of pop-ups
This is a great engagement idea for virtual attendees. Use the main stage of the virtual event to explore the power of pop-ups. Use a pop-up only after an attendee has been on your event platform for more than 60 seconds. Don’t use pop-ups to sell anything. Use them to invite attendees to participate in a contest, networking lounge, a sponsor’s demo session, or more. By doing so, you’ll help attendees understand the platform better, get an idea about what’s happening in different areas of your event, and also encourage them to explore many features you make available for them.
4. The sponsors’ magic corner
Sending sponsors home happy is every event prof’s dream. A dedicated sponsors’ corner at the physical venue can help you realize this dream. This corner can be built as a networking lounge, a chat room, or for live streaming from the event venue onto the hybrid event platform.You can gamify product demos, organize a workshop, use AR/VR to unveil products, and so much more. By developing this space on your virtual event platform, you can not only deliver great engagement for your sponsors and exhibitors but also earn event revenue.
5. Live updates on the mobile app
A mobile application where your in-person attendees can log in is a must for hybrid events. It comes as an actionable engagement idea for hybrid events. Sending live updates to both in-person and virtual attendees is a smart engagement idea that event profs can use.The opportunities that result from a mobile app are endless - run contests, virtual booths, polls, Q&A, networking activities, and more. This way in-person and virtual attendees both participate in activities together.
6. Matchmake attendees and offer 1:1 live chat sessions
This particular suggestion will make your attendees’ experience truly hybrid. Matchmaking attendees is an activity that can be carried out both in-person and virtually. You can use the event app, that’s connected to your hybrid event platform, to connect in-person and virtual attendees. This will highly boost engagement since attendees love to connect with each other to expand their network. Enable 1:1 meetings by integrating third-party video conferencing applications and chat panels.
7. Leverage gamification as much as possible
A healthy mix of activities and interaction makes for a great hybrid event. Gamification allows your attendees to have some serious fun during the event, and earn rewards and recognition on the leaderboard. Here’s how you can do this for both in-person and virtual attendees:
8. Host workshops
Host workshops to keep your attendees from dropping off. Workshops are a great tool to engage attendees in learning activities. Hands-on workshops are a good way to break the monotony of listening to speakers. Workshops are high-value trump cards that event profs should use. So, notify your attendees in your pre-event communication of the various workshops they can participate in. You can also use exit pop-ups about workshops to try to stop virtual attendees from dropping off.
9. Minimize the session length to a digestible amount
Finding a balance in the attention span of an on-ground attendee and a virtual attendee is a tough bargain. For a true hybrid experience, cut the length of your sessions to as short as possible. The smaller the session length, the more mentally aligned and invested attendees will be. Also, it will help your attendees explore other aspects of your event. We suggest you keep the average session length under 30 minutes.
10. Live stream speaker interviews with hosts and open Q&A
Interacting with a speaker backstage or after the session in person is common practice for attendees. How can you achieve this when the event is in a hybrid format? Host a special speaker interview for virtual attendees and allow for Q&A. By doing so, both in-person and virtual attendees can experience exclusive interaction with the speakers.
11. Stream a short video/movie/song during longer breaks for virtual attendees
For in-person attendees, this can be aired in an amphitheater or entertainment room. For virtual attendees, this can be aired on the hybrid event platform.To make it even more engaging, you can create rooms of five attendees on the mobile app and air the movie. This will help in integrating the event experience of in-person and virtual attendees. They can engage and network with each other while having lunch or coffee.
12. Give a virtual tour of the on-ground venue and stages
Giving a taste of what the on-ground event venue looks like can engage your attendees immensely. It brings about familiarity with the venue for those attending virtually. Simultaneously, on-ground attendees who decide to come only for a few sessions can be lured to explore more and stay longer. You can put up a pre-recorded video on the mobile application. Or you can live stream this walkthrough, interview on-ground attendees, and invite virtual attendees to attend this stream.
13. Create chat panels for attendees to share insights
Chat panels engage attendees endlessly. They act as Tweet chats or Instagram text stories that can be shared with every attendee. You can enable this feature beautifully on-ground by installing kiosks or tablets where people can share their experiences via the hybrid event platform. For virtual attendees, this feature will anyway be present on the hybrid event platform. Thus, engaging both in-person and virtual attendees to take part in sharing thoughts, ideas, and experiences. Another way to do this is to enable this feature on the mobile application.
14. Integrate social platforms with your hybrid event platform
Social media is a powerful tool to take your event to the world. While in-person attendees can easily upload pictures, videos, boomerangs, reels, and snaps, what about those attending virtually? Integrate at least one social media platform into your hybrid event platform. This will help event you gain traction with virtual event attendees and encourage as much engagement as possible. Here, gamification can be put to use. Whoever posts more on their social media gets awarded extra points and prizes.
15. Host a live quiz contest
Host a live contest and your engagement will soar high. You can divide your audience into smaller groups and host a live quiz contest on the mobile app. It can be aired on the hybrid event platform and on-ground attendees can play the quiz in groups with virtual attendees.
16. Enable face-to-face interaction
The charm of face-to-face interaction never fades away. You can designate a room or a few areas across the event venue for your on-ground attendees to interact with virtual attendees. Request virtual attendees to enable their cameras and set up the required equipment at the physical venue for your on-ground attendees. This will not only be immersive but fun to do with your hybrid attendees. You can also enable face-to-face interactions in 1:1 meetings, networking lounges, and live Q&A with the speakers.
17. Host an auction
Auctions can be fun if you get creative with them. All auctions need not have participants bidding just money. You can decide the rules and regulations of your auction. Think of auctions at Masterchef Australia where participants bid with their time instead of money.You can auction items on-ground within a set time and bidding limit for on-ground as well as virtual attendees. Use your hybrid event platform to live stream the auction and allow virtual attendees to participate too. Gamify the experience. You can ask on-ground attendees to click a selfie at the auction and put it up on the event app or social media to gain points. For those attending virtually, you can reward points for bidding or simply entering into the auction online.
18. Expand your community
In a hybrid setup, how can you create a healthy community of in-person and virtual attendees? Ask your audience to take a screenshot of their favorite moment from the event and share it with you to feature it on your company's social media. This will help you reach more audiences, and create a community of individuals who turn into influencers for your brand and event.
19. Organize a virtual photo booth
Photo booths never go out of fashion. They help attendees create memorable experiences for themselves and for fellow participants in the most interactive way. You can organize a virtual as well as an on-ground photo booth for both types of attendees. The on-ground attendees can get a printed copy of their photos while virtual attendees can get a specially designed copy.
20. Send swag or meals to your virtual attendees
The in-person experience of enjoying meals or just grabbing a coffee in between sessions and catching up with fellow delegates is incomparable. How can event profs replicate this in a hybrid event? Send welcome kits, lunches, dinners, gift boxes, or free product samples to virtual attendees. This makes them feel a connection with the event and piques their interest to engage with the event and brand even more.We hope you found these engagement ideas to be useful. Keep these tips in mind while hosting your next hybrid event to enhance the event experience. And if you’re looking for a hybrid event platform that’s built to deliver deep engagement, check out Hubilo today.