While it doesn’t require sophisticated technology or additional expertise, proper planning is crucial to successfully host a hybrid event. Since you are dealing with two types of audiences – live and virtual – it is vital that you manage the flow of the event and its content to ensure that it is beneficial for both types of audience. So, why is a hybrid event worth the extra effort and planning? And why should you incorporate it as part of your event strategy?
Hybrid events are more than just a trend. They are a must if you want to reach a wider audience. If executed properly, you can experience plenty of benefits from a successful hybrid event.
There is a misconception that you should only host a live or virtual event and that opting to mix both (hybrid) will only split your attendance and fail in your objectives for holding such an event.
But the reality is the opposite. If planned and executed correctly, hybrid events are beneficial in targeting a wider audience. It can help expand your reach and boost the attendance rate.
Most attendees to a hybrid event were people who weren't planning to or could not attend the live event in person. Therefore, bringing the virtual audience to your event will significantly boost your attendance rate.
At the same time, it allows you to expand your reach by encouraging new people to join the event. Once you can get these new attendees to participate, it lets them experience what your event will be like and encourages them to join your future events.
Providing a virtual channel for attendees to your event lowers the barrier of entry, especially demographically. Even those who are located far from the event venue can participate. It allows you to optimize your live audience while releasing the cap on the number of virtual attendees.
One of the criticisms of a hybrid event format is the possibility that engagement will fail in both live and virtual audiences. But, again, it's not true as long as you have a well-planned event format.
On the flip side, adding a virtual audience into the mix will make the event more engaging since the virtual platform provides more ways for participants to engage.
For example, you can create polls for live and virtual audiences. You can also provide different engagement opportunities for each set of audiences. For example, you can hold a live Q&A session for the live audience, while you can collect questions from the virtual audience that you can respond to at the end of the event.
The secret to increasing engagement is using the audience-first approach in building the event format and content delivery. Find ways to weave your content where you can find engagement opportunities.
More corporate sponsors are invested in hybrid events as long as the event can achieve a few things.
First on the list is increased audience reach. Corporate sponsors would want to be part of a hybrid event with a massive audience reach. The more attendees you have, the more potential target leads the sponsors have.
The best part about a hybrid event audience is that it is both live and virtual, opening up your event to more dynamic sponsorship opportunities. The interested corporate sponsors won't be limited to the audience within your physical location as that expands with your virtual audience reach.
Another reason your corporate sponsorship opportunities expand with a hybrid event is that you can access reportable metrics. Measuring a live event's performance is challenging, while hybrid event platforms can provide valuable metrics and insights. You can use this data reporting to determine if you've reached your KPI and show that to your current and prospective sponsors.
As corporate sponsors are more selective about where they place their budgets, you can put your event at the front as a potential opportunity for them to reach their target audience.
Your hybrid event allows you to provide on-demand content for your audience. Even those unable to attend the live event can access the content from your website or other online platforms.
Thus, you can make your content work harder for you and aid in your marketing initiative. In addition, you now have digital content that can be re-shared or re-purposed to bring awareness or promotion to your event or brand.
The environmental impact of a hybrid event is one of the leading reasons to consider in this format. Going hybrid is an excellent solution for attendees conscious of their carbon footprint. Instead of encouraging your attendees to travel to your venue, they can log on to their computers to attend the event without causing a significant environmental impact.
At the same time, keeping your in-person attendance low can also lower your event costs. You don’t need to rent a large venue or pay for catering at the event venue.
The reduced costs for event planning can help increase your ROI for the event. Hybrid events might require certain technologies, but they are still more affordable than hosting an event at a large venue. In addition, the technology needed for hosting a hybrid event only needs to be set up once. It won’t require a whole crew to set it up or take it down once the event ends.
Considering that you can attract more potential sponsors and you won’t have to pay for travel and accommodation expenses, you will see an improvement on your ROI.
There’s no need to fear hybrid events. Even with a lack of sophisticated technology or expertise in hosting this event format, it’s straightforward to execute with adequate planning. Therefore, you must evaluate the critical elements in the planning process to ensure you can deliver the best experience to the live and virtual audience. You will be rewarded with the above benefits if you can do that.