Harness the Hybrid: 5 Ways to Supercharge Your Event

As the world opens back up, hybrid events have become the best way to reach your entire audience.

By Jodi Ray

woman in headphones talk on video call with colleagues

A hybrid event serves both virtual and in-person audiences, raising your revenue, relevance, and reach.  It’s a win-win-win! Harness a few of these ideas to supercharge your next hybrid event:

Have one online platform as the anchor for both in-person and virtual.

A robust, consistent, and inclusive hub for all things related to the registered attendees can be the glue to hold all relevant items like documentation, credits, evaluations, certificates, on-demand recordings, exhibitor and sponsor content, and engagement.

By using your online platform prior, during, and after the event, you will increase engagement and drive in-person attendance, value, and excitement.

Additionally, you will be able to leverage data from both audiences to better understand important insights such as which presentation most popular or what topics are no longer a focus.

Price creatively and accordingly.

Pricing models can be based on competitive market price, access level, membership status, or as product bundles. Another option, which is seen more often lately, is pricing both in-person and virtual the same. This model makes it easy to switch seamlessly, if needed, and is justified as your attendees receive the same educational value while getting some unique/exclusive experiences based on their choice. Overall, your price for both audiences is justified by expanded value with digital resources before and after event.

Dedicate resources and expertise to the event.

While your hybrid event is one event, your two audiences need unique and robust experiences, which require a producer mentality. Consider virtual attendees like viewers watching a big sports game on TV: give commentary, interviews from onsite (show floor, industry experts with session feedback or industry trends), and other communications to help them stay engaged.

Consider providing special content for only onsite attendees and some for only virtual attendees.  Maybe have an upcharge to virtual for access to some of the onsite exclusive content.

Everyone loves swag! Mail branded items to your virtual attendees to ensure they are included, and perhaps add something unique to the onsite attendees to increase the value. Also, your online platform can hold digital swag, which is a great way to engage.

While you are paying attention to safety protocols with meals on-site, you can include virtual attendees by offering a meal via Grub Hub or online delivery service. The added bonus here is that, with virtual, you only pay for what is used!

Think creatively about delivery experience options.

There are many options to deliver one event to both virtual and in-person audiences and to do it effectively. One of the more cost-effective options is to have an in-person event and then offer on-demand recordings and content in your online hub. Or you could choose to stream a portion of sessions, like keynotes, to an online audience. 

More out-of-the-box ideas could include having a small studio with VIP (or just presenters/panel) attending in-person, with the primary audience virtual. Or you could have meetings in-person in various locations that are connected to a central conference event with a virtual platform.

Focus on building engagement.

When you help foster relationships with colleagues, allow for collaboration, and encourage interactivity and content and others, you build a solid foundation of value. This means that attendees will desire further participation with your events and association.

Allow attendees to view poster and oral presentations in your online platform prior to the meeting, then have discussions and questions onsite. For virtual attendees, allow them to set an appointment to ask questions. Or presenters can have virtual “office hours” with the availability of open Zoom links.

For exhibitors and sponsors, onsite attendees get the real handshakes and discussions while virtual attendees can set appointments with links from directory (i.e., with solutions like Calendly), have virtual office hours (i.e., with solutions like Zoom), or even use tools like Remo. Both exhibitors and sponsor can access then online resources like documents, videos, and website from your online platform.

Encourage Q&A for sessions. You can request that all questions be funneled through the online platform, which allows the virtual audience to feel included, as no one can tell the difference!
Encourage Q&A for sessions. You can request that all questions be funneled through the online platform, which allows the virtual audience to feel included, as no one can tell the difference! Or you can provide microphones in the onsite room where a facilitator takes questions from the online audience and shares them in room to be sure they are included.

Another option is to use a virtual chat feature that is accessible to both online and onsite attendees before, during, and after the event During a session, attendees could be prompted to continue their conversation or to consult repositories of sessions on similar topics. Many online platforms have native tools that work, or you can consider tools like Braindate or Remo to encourage discussion, collaboration, and connection.

Pre- and post-event activities are critical for building community and engagement and extending the meeting value. Pre-event could include virtual meetups, sponsored happy hours, webinars as teasers to educational sessions to drive registration, and interest and product demonstrations. Post-event might include choosing specific recordings to post on-demand with discussions, follow up webinars, or meet-ups to discuss more.

Encourage fun! Use gamification like scavenger hunts or bingo with prizes and leader boards in which both onsite and online attendees can participate. Have “photo booths” where attendees can take selfies and post (maybe even with a theme).

Harnessing the hybrid.

The above examples are just a few small ways that you can create a win-win-win with your next hybrid event. Increase your revenue, your relevance, and your reach today!

About the Author

By Jodi Ray is Customer Success Manager at Blue Sky eLearn.

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