After COVID-19 shook the world, meetings, conferences, and other large events changed dramatically. Companies have turned to hosting hybrid events.
If you’re an event planner or organizer, read on to learn more about hybrid events and how to host one successfully.
What Is a Hybrid Event?
A hybrid event combines the experience of virtual and in-person events. These events are set up as a virtual event and are designed to include a live component. Basically, the content is planned around an online audience, considering the digital aspects that will best bring both live and remote audiences together.
This kind of arrangement has benefits over traditional live events:
- Improved content engagement
- Improved ROI
- Safer participation of remote audience
- Wider reach
Even with the obvious advantages, hybrid events also pose challenges. Here are some things you must keep in mind when planning and hosting a hybrid event.
Hosting a Hybrid Event: Staffing Needs
Surely you want the event to be flawless, so you must take note of all the staff roles and responsibilities. Hosting a hybrid event entails a bigger team. Set the duties of team members to ensure that there’s no overlapping.
To make a hybrid event successful, you’ll need on-site and virtual teams.
Your Virtual Staff
- Event Producer: This member works to ensure that the virtual part of the event runs smoothly. They want to produce something that’s both engaging and entertaining. A virtual event producer can give your event the appropriate look and atmosphere.
- Event Technologist: The event technologist plays a crucial role in hybrid events as they’re responsible for developing a comprehensive tech strategy to make the event successful. They work to manage the technical side of the event including sourcing suitable equipment vendors and managing online registrations. During the event, they also work by providing on-site tech support.
- Sound and Camera Operators: These members ensure that the live audio and video feeds are of the best quality.
Your On-Site Staff
- Event Manager: Event managers are tasked to set up the event, delegate tasks, send the invites, plan and schedule the event.
- Event or Social Media Moderator: This team member works by connecting to your remote audience. They’re responsible for managing the live streams of the event and managing the Q&A portion. It’s their role to keep the audience engaged during the event.
- On-Site Organizers: Depending on the hybrid event model that you’re adapting, you may need on-site organizers positioned in different locations. Determine if you need in-person staff in different locations and what their duties will be.
- Technicians: Whether it’s a virtual, face-to-face, or hybrid event, a technician helps ensure that the audio-visual aspect and other tech-related concerns are running smoothly. In your venue, you need to ensure that the microphones and working and streaming works correctly. Should there be any technical problems, the technician will help smoothen things out. Part of the technician’s role is ensuring that the event is free from hackers and security threats.
- Emcee or Host: The host’s responsibilities are like that of a traditional master of ceremony or emcee, which includes introducing the speakers and assisting in the slide presentation.
In drawing up your hybrid event’s budget, it’s best to consider your event objectives and vision. Your objectives will serve as your guide in allocating budget priorities and ensuring that you invest in things that will help you achieve your goals.
For example, you’re planning an event aimed to educate your audience. This could mean investing in the best speakers in your field. If you’re running an event to promote networking, then it’s sensible to invest in a reputable networking tool.
Here are some budgetary considerations to include.
- Event check-in
- On-site and virtual engagement and networking
- Sponsorship management
- Data analytics
- Post-event reporting
- Event mobile apps
When hosting a hybrid event, this component is likely one of the most expensive ones. Choose suitable venues for your hybrid event, including finding one with an excellent internet connection and big space to allow for social distancing and observation of safety protocols.
This budgetary consideration can depend on your event. Whether you’re planning a small team-building event for a few days or a large industry-wide trade show for a few weeks, you may need to find appropriate accommodations for your staff and guest speakers. Even a “fully virtual” event can have these logistical needs
This cost includes food and refreshments for on-site attendees, which can vary depending on the chosen type of meal. However, event organizers have also been including virtual attendees in their budget through vouchers for food deliveries.
Your event speakers hold the face of the event. Consider getting renowned experts in your field to help attract an audience. The best hybrid speakers should have excellent engagement skills, which makes both the virtual and in-person audience feel involved.
Audio Visual Aspects
Even for hybrid events, having reliable audio-visual technology and equipment is crucial. Surely, the last thing you want is a poor quality audio or stream to your remote audience, or they will feel neglected.
To make your event more eye-catching and glamorous, you may consider adding an extra budget for décor. This may include balloons, flowers, candles, or special event lighting.
Branding is essential for providing an effective brand personality and improving brand awareness. Hybrid events may require physical event signage, which can make the event recognizable. Consider also getting COVID-19 safety measures signages that remind attendees of social distancing and wearing masks.
Next, you want to consider getting entertainment items for your event. This may include magicians, comedians, and a band or DJ to help spice up your event and make memories for the attendees.
A hybrid event may call for travel expenses for the staff, entertainers, or speakers to get to your venue.
Safety and Security
Set aside some funds for security and safety measures. This can include security teams around your venue as well as safety supplies such as thermometers, hand sanitizers, and hand-washing stations. This can also include ramping up cybersecurity efforts.
Consider setting aside a budget for gifts including wellness kits, vouchers, or other gifts you like to share.
Promotions and Marketing
To help attract attendees, you may need to factor in some costs for promotions and marketing. This can include advertising costs, press releases, content marketing, and other related items.
For a large-scale event, you may need to hire additional event support staff so this should also be part of your budgetary considerations.
Despite proper planning, there will always be unexpected costs at the last minute. These may include costs for equipment that failed to work, delivery costs, furniture or other things. Your backup fund should include around 5% to 20% of your overall budget.
Streaming Your Live Presentation
In a hybrid event, the main way to share your content is by streaming it. Although this differs from the engagement factor provided by face-to-face sessions, you can still achieve your objectives using technology. You can still use the important elements of a physical experience and apply them to the digital field to ensure your virtual content is king.
Here are some ways to deliver content to your remote and on-site attendees.
High-Quality Video Production
You can choose to pre-record your video and stream it to your event audience. This way, you can enrich your presentation with visual effects, animations, or go 3D. Editing your video will make it more concise and powerful.
Live broadcasting is best if you want to combine presentations and panel sessions with the participation of a live audience. There are many providers who can provide interactivity tools to boost voting, real-time networking, and Q&A. This should depend on your event objectives and budget.
This option provides more interactive elements than live broadcasting. It also allows multiple locations to communicate simultaneously. In this option, the video feeds of attendees will be visible, adding to the feeling of a group dialogue. However, video conferencing is best suited for scenarios in which all attendees have the necessary equipment and internet connectivity.
Virtual reality is useful in immersing your attendees with your content. This leads to the best engaging experience for them. With virtual reality, you can bring your audience to the location. You can do this by setting up virtual reality stations in different locations.
Engaging Your On-Site and Remote Audience
Engagement is one of the biggest challenges in hybrid events. Unlike in face-to-face conferences or meetings, you need to double your effort in keeping the attention of your remote audience.
Here are some ways you can promote engagement in your hybrid event.
Keep Speakers On-Site
Having speakers with your live audience will add professionalism to your brand. It also adds to the credibility of your event, especially if you place your event or company logo in the background on the stage. The virtual attendees will see and appreciate the energy and interaction of the speakers on stage.
Connect Both the Remote and the On-Site Audience
Bridge the gap between your audiences. In this step, your chosen hybrid platform should help. Choose something that provides different ways to engage both audiences. It can be chat rooms, live polls, or direct messaging. Consider also having virtual booths for exhibits and sponsors.
The speakers should also help engage with the remote audience as well. You can add Q&A on both virtual and live locations.
Use Social Media
Social media is a useful tool to encourage engagement to both sides of the audience. Some ideas are to have the live attendees post selfies with the remote audience. You can also use social media to connect with remote and live audiences by sharing photos.
Hosting a Hybrid Event: Key Takeaways
Hybrid events are an exciting way for event planners to showcase their versatility and creativity. With the proper planning and event management, you can create and execute a hybrid event that delivers a positive ROI while delighting attendees near and far.
Put the AMP Event Group team’s 17+ years of knowledge and expertise to work for you today to ensure your hybrid event is a success. Let’s get started!