How to network at a hybrid event

The Ultimate Guide for Hybrid Events

Debating whether to host an in-person or virtual event? Choose both with a hybrid event! Learn everything there is to know about hybrid events in our blog.
August 30, 2022

Considered the “new normal,” hybrid events have evolved and have become so versatile in recent years. By providing the public with the option to attend your event in person or virtually, you now are responsible for catering the needs of both your live and virtual audiences. 

What is a Hybrid Event?

Serving as a “middle ground solution,” a hybrid event is the combination of a virtual and an in-person event. This dual event allows people to enjoy this experience based on their own comfortability and preference. Hybrid events also give event planners some creative freedom and flexibility to switch things up and discover new meeting standards. Some examples of hybrid events include: staff/team meetings, conferences, training seminars or even music concerts.

Benefits of Hybrid Events

As you could assume, hosting a hybrid event can come with several, different perks. Continue reading to learn how hosting a hybrid event can be most beneficial for you!  

  1. Increase in Attendance 

Because the audience members have the option to attend in person or online, this potentially can result in a large crowd and receive a big turnout in attendance for the event. In addition, hybrid events have an advantage over in-person events because it is available for people who may be incapable of attending physically. 

  1. Measurable Metrics and Results

The technology used for hybrid events is a helpful tool overall because they are able to collect data from both types of attendees. Data and metrics can be tracked through features such as questionnaire polls and surveys which can eventually help the event planner. The feedback given from audience members can help the host and event organizer understand data-driven insights and make strategic decisions and improvements based on the audience’s behavior. 

  1. Two Experiences in One Event

Yes, a hybrid event is technically one event but essentially offers two different types of experiences. With the ability to provide the best of both environments, live and virtual attendees can enjoy some of the same and completely different benefits. For instance, both audience members can enjoy casual interactions with others, entertainment, and networking. On the other hand; the attendees who choose to attend the live event may enjoy lunch that is catered, whereas the virtual attendees may receive an e-gift courtesy of the host to purchase their own lunch. Virtual attendees can also enjoy a catered meal, but it will lack the in-person experience of enjoying it with others.  

  1. Higher engagement with your audience

Because your virtual audience is actively participating from mobile phones, tablets or computers, they are able to further engage compared to in-person audience members. For example, your online audience is able to communicate, share, like and comment on content that was presented.

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  1. More powerful sponsorship opportunities

Hybrid events can be extremely valuable for sponsors for quite a few different reasons. For one, depending on the size of the event; sponsors are able to expose themselves to a large crowd while personally and virtually connecting with people who are interested. Sponsoring a hybrid event can also increase opportunities for sponsors as well as reportable metrics.  

  1. Reduced environmental costs

A major benefit when hosting hybrid events is knowing that you are reducing the carbon footprint. Since audience members have the option to attend in person or virtually, the environment will be positively impacted due to less emissions in the air from travel and the lack of using disposable supplies.

  1. Reduced travel costs

In addition to the attendees, travel costs can also be reduced for sponsors and staff members who are assisting with your event. With it being hybrid, not as much physical assistance or sponsorship should be as needed and whatever tasks are left can be accomplished with a small team. You may want to even consider including virtual sponsorship packages in your prospectus, while that may be a more convenient option as well. 

  1. Greater flexibility

Hypothetically speaking, if an emergency or impulse change were to occur with your event, the hybrid event format is flexible enough to keep things on track and potentially still support the launch of your event. 

 How to host a hybrid event

4 Types of Hybrid Events

Since a hybrid event is already the combination of two types of events, you may assume that’s all there is to it. Fortunately, you can specifically plan out your event depending on the occasion and if you want it to be internal or external!  

1. Simultaneous Events

Simply put, this is the general type of hybrid event. It embodies both of the live and virtual elements and caters to the different types of audience members. 

Simultaneous Event Example: Sales Kick-Off

Perfect for internal sales kick-offs, simultaneous events allow attendees to receive information all at the same time as while also interacting amongst each other. 

2. Hub and Spoke Events

As a host, you may choose this meeting layout if you’re looking to share professional information from an internal superior or would like for an expert to speak on behalf of their service or products. This is an ideal meeting format for training seminars, Q&A sessions or team meetings. 

Hub and Spoke Event Example: Team Meetings

Hub-and-spoke events are a great format for training seminars, staff meetings, or Q&A sessions. This hybrid event format may be ideal if you want to share a professional message from the company’s CEO or from a product expert.

3. On Demand Events

Experienced by a live audience yet captured with the intent to be broadcasted to a wider audience, on demand events are a great opportunity to transform your event into a marketing opportunity. 

On Demand Event Example: Live Demonstrations

On-demand events are ideal for demonstrating expertise in a specific setting. If you host an event where popular topics are explored in the industry, this format offers an opportunity to extend your reach and capture a wide audience. 

4. Live Studio Audience Events

This type of event is arranged like a talk show where the host and guest speaker speak before a small audience but is also broadcasted live to a wider, virtual audience.

Live Studio Audience Event Example: Product Launches

The well known Apple Events for example, gives off the energy of the live audience hearing the presentation in person transmits to the virtual audience, bridging the gap between attendee locations. Production quality is of high importance here because, with the right camera work, the digital experience can feel as intimate as the in-person one.

Hybrid Events vs. In Person Events

The primary difference between an event that’s hybrid and an event that’s live, is that in person events are typically hosted in a venue where attendees come together to connect and network. A hybrid event caters to both virtual and people who physically attended the event so more planning and equipment may be required when organizing this type of event. Specifically for virtual events, you’ll need reliable technology so that your remote audience is able to join and participate.

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Hybrid Events vs. Virtual Events

The primary difference between hybrid and virtual events is that virtual events and the audience members who attend are completely hosted online. A virtual event can consist of content that is pre-recorded or live streamed and allows attendees to join in the comfort of their favorite place. Virtual events can also be cost efficient compared to a hybrid or in person event. With virtual events, you don’t have to book a venue, supply any food or purchase any physical decorations or signage. 

How to plan a hybrid event

What Does a Hybrid Event Look Like?

The beauty about hybrid events is being able to accomplish organizational goals based on the versatile meeting format you select. Continue reading to learn more about examples of different hybrid event structures. 

1. Job Fairs

With a hybrid job fair, you are able to connect corporate recruiters and job seekers together in both a venue and a common virtual space. While individuals come together to network in-person; setting up a virtual exhibition booth to assist with job searching and applications could be a great way to interact for the online guests. 

2. Trade Shows

Hybrid trade shows are a unique way for companies and consumers to come together for retail purposes even if everyone isn’t able to physically attend. During a hybrid trade show, representatives are able to showcase their services and products in addition to a live demonstration. This opportunity also allows consumers to place orders which can essentially help with sales and reach. 

3. Hybrid Presentations

Hybrid presentations is a type of event where in-person and virtual audiences members join together to participate in activities, listen to expert guest speakers and connect amongst a shared concept. Some virtual elements that could be integrated in the presentation include breakout rooms, trivia questions and exchanging digital business cards. 

4. Conferences

Hybrid conferences can serve as a networking outlet for both virtual and in-person audience members because they are able to share knowledge, receive insight from expert speakers and ask questions amongst a professional panel. Two event tools that are helpful when planning and implementing a hybrid conference are live streaming and event management software.

5. Exhibitions 

Hybrid exhibitions are specifically ideal for brands and companies who would like to showcase their craft, skills or content. You can have it arranged where your exhibit is hosted in a physical venue for an intimate group of people as well as broadcasted to a wide virtual audience. Hybrid exhibitions are most appropriate for spaces such museums or art galleries.

Core Elements of Hybrid Events

To ensure you are hosting an effective hybrid event, it is a must that you meet the needs of your virtual and live audiences. Here we will discuss important fundamentals that should be considered for hybrid events.

1. Time Zone Considerations

One of the most tedious factors to consider when hosting a virtual or hybrid event is considering all of your attendee’s schedules so that they are available to attend your event. It may seem easier to satisfy their availability because the event is hybrid, but that also can make it more difficult. For your virtual audience, you’ll have to take into account the time zone people reside in. 

2. Venue and Technology

Utilizing high quality technology and a well spaced venue are important aspects to help you host an effective hybrid event. The technology and hybrid event platform you choose is especially important because you want to make sure the connection is cohesive and virtual attendees are able to engage. 

3. Event Committee 

Hosting a successful event unfortunately cannot be achieved alone. Forming a small event team or committee can go a long way and may help the planning process run smoother. By establishing a mutual guideline and open communication for everyone to follow, your hybrid event should be on the verge of success. 

Event Committee Tasks:

  • Designing/decorating the virtual space and physical venue
  • Solidifying sponsors and exhibitors and assisting with booth set up
  • Troubleshooting technical issues 
  • Managing attendee registration for both types of audience members

How to Host Hybrid Event - 7 Steps

Once you believe you are ready to host, this step by step guide can be a reliable hybrid event checklist to refer to. 

1. Create a Clear Vision

Creating a vision for your hybrid event will give you clarity as you prep and organize. This will also give your virtual and in person audience members an idea of what to expect and build excitement. A method you could try to help distinguish you event vision are answering the “six W’s:”

  • Who is the event for?
  • What information will the audience take away from this event?
  • Why will they find the event interesting?
  • Where will the event take place?
  • When will the event occur?
  • Who will conduct the event?

2. Create an Event Plan

Since you are the host of this hybrid event, you have creative control over how each session transitions and what all you want to be presented. Incorporating fun activities and expert tips while still teaching the main concept of the event should be one of your goals as a host. Other valued, minor details you could include in your presentations are the duration time of the session, tech details or information about partnered sponsors. 

3. Assign Roles and Responsibilities

Event management plays an important role in your event planning process. Because you will be hosting a hybrid event, you most likely will need a bigger or multiple committees to help assist with the launch. The event coordinators and managers you assign would be responsible for assigning roles and responsibilities and making sure deadlines are met. 

4. Create Content

When you’re creating the content for your hybrid event, be sure to invest time and planning. Hybrid events are the future so keeping up with the latest trends, features, and platforms will give you an advantage to stand out to your audience. It’s also important to grasp the attention of both your live audience as well as the ones who will be attending remotely. 

5. Consider Different Time Zones 

Hybrid events have an advantage because they are able to cater to a wide group of people’s schedules despite the time zone they may be in. 

Even if it happens to be a conflict with the initial time you scheduled your event with some of your guests, you have the option to live stream your event simultaneously. That way, different people are still able to join together & consume the content at the same time. 

Another option you have is to record your hybrid event and present it as a series for your virtual audience to enjoy on demand.

6. Event Venue and Technology

One of the most important decisions you can make when planning your hybrid event is choosing an event platform and venue. These are the components that make or break the audience’s experience. You’ll want to make sure that you secure reliable technology that can cover the online and on-site aspects of your event. 

7. Seek Sponsorship for Your Event

Once you’ve almost completed your planning process, a final touch is to seek sponsorship for your hybrid event. Securing a sponsorship is an opportunity to collaborate and form a beneficial, business relationship with another company.  It’s best to seek sponsors who relate to the theme of the event or within the same industry.

3 Types of Sponsors to Approach

  1. Large organizations who can meet the needs of a big crowd and potentially broaden your reach. 
  2. A tech company that can assist with technical tasks and event strategy. 
  3. A company that can assist with giving gifts, giveaways or incentives to participants and attendees. 

Hybrid Event Marketing

The marketing behind hybrid events is significant because you are essentially attracting twice as many audience members as you would if you hosted strictly a virtual or live event. Creating a website, emails and digital marketing advertisements are great tactics to use when promoting your hybrid event. 

Marketing for a hybrid event

7 Hybrid Event Marketing Tactics

1. Promote on Your Site

Having a landing page for your hybrid event is a key factor in your marketing campaign.  This is where you are able to explain your mission behind the event and allow the public to register or purchase tickets.

2. Engage on Social Media

Using social media to engage with people who are interested in your brand is an excellent way to promote your event. With being active on your social media account, you are able to share relevant content related to the event, reply to comments and answer questions.  Creating hashtags is a great way to encourage like-minded people to have conversation and express support. 

3. Opt for Paid Media

Utilizing paid media advertisements is an efficient way to get the word out about your event while collecting data with those who interact with it. These types of ads can establish high traffic and analyze different demographics and geological locations. 

4. Email Marketing

Along with social media marketing, email marketing can play a significant role in your hybrid event marketing plan. Sending out updates, resources and content is a method you can apply to keep in contact with your prospective audience before and after the event.

5. Involve Sponsors, Special Guests and Audience

Acting as the most important stakeholders, your guest speakers, sponsors and attendees play a valuable part in your event marketing campaign. Once securing sponsorship or special appearances, you’ll then want to brainstorm collaborations that can be implemented. Such activities can help with reach and brand awareness.  It’s advised to partner with a sponsor or a high profile individual that shares the same audience as you so that you both can take advantage of the event exposure and gain connections. 

6. PR

Just as important as social media and branding, public relations is used to form relationships with potential consumers, investors, employees and the media. While your brand messaging focuses on your customer’s needs and wants, your PR tactics ensure those expectations are met and satisfied.

7. Website Content

Utilizing website content such as call-to-action buttons, blog articles and pop up alerts can assist with directing event registration and building anticipation. Pop up alerts and call-to-action buttons are a flashy gain to grasp your online visitors attention whereas blog articles can serve as a credible resource to answer FAQs.   A new website feature that has come about are “sticky bars” which is a website tool found at the bottom or top of your webpage. A sticky bar can be customized, assists with website subscriptions and essentially helps with website conversion. 

Hybrid Event Engagement

By live streaming your event’s content and presentations, you are able to record and send them to people who weren’t able to attend. With recording your sessions, you can also save and showcase them on a platform for people to rewatch later and engage.  That way, you’ll still be relevant to your audience even once the event has concluded. 

10 Hybrid Event Engagement Ideas

1. Virtual Exhibit Booths

The hybrid exhibit booths at your event are decorated virtual spaces for sponsors to connect with the audience and spotlight their brand with media, exclusive offers and marketable materials. On the other hand, physical exhibit events can reflect the same practices with only the difference being face to face interaction.

2. Leaderboards

Leaderboards are a great way to keep track of internal tasks that have been accomplished amongst the group.  Once a goal has been completed, a person a certain amount of points until reaching a certain achievement status. What’s great about leaderboards is that any task such as downloading a document or watching a video; can be assigned and rewarded for completion. 

3. Surveys and Polls

If you are looking to receive feedback immediately from your guests, sending out surveys and taking polls.  As an icebreaker for the beginning or intermission of your event, present a poll with a series of questions to prompt engagement and discussion. Using surveys once your event has concluded is a great way to collect data and receive suggestions of what your audience did and didn’t enjoy.

4. Scavenger Hunts

A way for you to encourage interactivity amongst your audience members is by planning a scavenger hunt. Being a host, you could offer a series of clues that leads the participants to collect items and essentially claim a winner. 

5. Chats

Whether in person or chatting via a live chat room, discussion is a traditional way to bring people together who share a common interest. Having a chat space available throughout your event can allow attendees to share facts, their opinions, and ask questions. Essentially, this is an effortless way to bring people together from different backgrounds who share an interest relevant to you. 

6. Photo Booths

Having a photo booth at your hybrid event is significant for guests to interact with sponsors and hosts. Along with taking pictures and using a central hashtag, a responsive team can be assigned to hosting live video calls and chats for the virtual aspect of this feature. As for the physical photobooth, photo props will be available and attendees will have the chance to take a series of photos and retrieve their photo strip instantaneously.  

7. Breakout Rooms

As a focal component of innovative technology, breakout sessions are a great way to utilize time out of your event for audience participation.  This is an opportunity for attendees to express key takeaways and their overall experience from the event. 

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8. Moderated Q&A

Moderated Q&A sessions are an outlet tool to publicly answer questions that are asked by attendees.  This feature can be set up where the questions are asked anonymously or openly. It is recommended to have an administrator moderate the Q&A session to distinguish which questions are relevant and appropriate. This tool is a way for individuals to learn additional takeaways that possibly weren’t covered during the event.

9. Social Media Walls

Creating a social media wall is an artsy engagement tactic where audience members can come together to share and admire valuable content.  This type of content can be used to promote the event, share major moments during the event and key takeaways that were gained. To help keep track of online event engagement, create a hashtag and this can serve as a common space for related event content to easily be found. This tactic can initiate conversations amongst sponsors, attendees and key speakers and can later be displayed online or at the physical event. 

10. Host Live Contests or Quizzes

Contests and quizzes are a great way to be inclusive with both your online and in person attendees.  You could divide your audience members into equal groups where they casually compete amongst each other while learning valuable information.  At the end, you can reward participants with tokens of appreciation while the winning team receives a prize.

The Future of Hybrid Events

Hybrid events are the future because they are convenient, schedule friendly and able to meet several people’s needs. This experience is great because both virtual and in-person individuals are able to share common interests in a common space that best suits them. Now that you have learned steps on how to host a hybrid event, different types of hybrid events and key elements, the fun starts now as you begin planning for your next event!

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