4 Questions that may save your hybrid event

Event Trends

April 5, 2021

Julia Sousa

Hybrid event production

Hybrid events are not new – if you think about it, you have likely participated in many hybrid events in the past. Most live TV programs, for instance, are part face-to-face and part virtual: they may have an in-person audience and most definitely they have a remote audience watching through their screens. 

Some conferences were already offering hybrid formats prior to the pandemic. The main program would be in-person;  those who couldn’t commit (or afford) to travel and multi-day stays would watch the conference program online through a more affordable ticket option.

But as we speak more about hybrid as a normal evolution of events in a scenario of pandemic and recovery, this buzzword is causing discomfort among planners who are unsure about how to put their best foot forward as in-person events start to slowly make a comeback. 

If you are still not sure about how to put together your hybrid event, ask yourself these four questions.

1) Is hybrid the right format for this event?

For those who were not managing hybrid events pre-pandemic, being forced to pivot into this format can be scary. But going hybrid is not a must – it’s just an option, if and when it makes sense. Before jumping on the bandwagon and hosting hybrid events, the real question you need to answer is: do you actually need to host a hybrid event?

In our latest Ask Me Anything session with industry experts, panelists seem to agree that hybrid is not the right answer for every single type of event. 

Howard Givner, CEO and Founder of the Event Leadership Institute, shared that “Thinking about hybrid, it shouldn’t be that you have to go in-person and virtual for every event. It might make sense in some, or it might make sense to do just an in-person event. And it might make sense for other situations just to do a virtual event, There’s not going to be a single playbook that gets you forward. And this is where there’s an opportunity for event professionals to be able to command a series of vehicles that they can tap depending on the goal of the organization, depending on who the audience is and how they want to reach them, and how that content and experiences are delivered.” 

Consider the objective of your event. Then choose the best format to use to achieve those objectives. 

Howard Givner quote on hybrid events

2) Do you have the buy-in you need?

If you decide that hybrid is the right format, then you may run into another challenge: getting buy-in. Because hybrid formats will likely be more costly to produce than a straight-up virtual event, it creates yet another barrier for event professionals to solve when hosting meetings and events in 2021 and beyond.

To Howard Givner, the deeper question is around how to get buy-in for a hybrid event and how to make it feasible. It’s all about how you position the benefits of running a hybrid event. For instance:

  • You can reach a larger audience
  • You can have sponsorship packages that leverage both virtual and in-person components

“Although hybrid events are going to be more expensive, I also think they open up a lot more monetization opportunities. We’re seeing that conferences that used to be for 250 people now have an audience of 2,000 people online. If you can do that very well and monetize that, you can make a lot more money in your ticket sales and in your sponsorship sales,” says Givner. 

Showing these benefits to key stakeholders will be key to successfully get support to go ahead with a well-produced hybrid event. 

Howard Givner quote on hybrid events

3) Are you partnering with the right vendors?

Managing a hybrid event is like managing two events in one: you have the virtual and the in-person components, but they have intersecting points. Having a technology that can connect these two points is essential both for planning the event and providing a cohesive, engaging experience for your audience.

Choosing a versatile event management solution, like Attendease, will be a smart decision to support event planners in managing a portfolio of varied events, whether in-person, virtual or hybrid – without having to switch tech depending on the event format. This will also be key to keep your efficiencies up while lowering overall costs. 

4) Do you have the right team for your hybrid event?

With a hybrid event, your event team may need to broaden as well. As Sarah Eaton, Senior Account Director at Crawford Group, shared at our Ask Me Anything panel: “Hybrid needs to be supported by a much bigger team, because you’re going to have a team that’s managing that live, programmatic piece, and then another team that’s managing that virtual piece. So in terms of resourcing, there’s going to be a lot of challenges in determining who’s going to support each side of that event, and working in both a collaborative manner as well as an independent manner to make those two events work together.”

Contracting an external workforce may be a good solution to find skilled professionals that can support your events team when needed, rather than hiring permanent employees.

Sarah Eaton quote on hybrid events

Set yourself up for success

Planning a hybrid event can be a challenge for most planners who were used to the in-person or virtual event formats. Before you take on what are essentially two concurrent events, make sure you are set up for success. Deciding if this format is appropriate to achieve your goals is the most important question you can ask. If the answer is yes, clearly communicate the benefits of this event format to stakeholders, and make sure you have the technology and team to put on a great show!

Find out how an award-winning event management platform can raise your game in any format – virtual, in-person or hybrid.

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