We all know the events industry has shifted, and another shift is on the horizon to hybrid events. Most event planners had never planned a virtual event until a couple of months ago. Additionally, most have never planned a hybrid event. To provide guidance, our Lead Virtual Event Producer, Margot Sikorksi, created this beginner’s guide to hybrid events.
- Consider both audiences. This is the first step when planning a hybrid conference. While you build experiences for the audiences separately, keep in mind attendees should feel like one audience. While this seems obvious, a meeting planner’s expertise is generally in the live event space. As we transition to hybrid, it is easy to forget about virtual attendees once live audiences are incorporated simultaneously. Always consider both audiences.
- Utilize networking features. Networking is among the top reasons why people attend events. It is important not to lose this element despite having audiences in multiple locations. All digital event platforms have networking tools, however the best way to ensure strong networking amongst attendees is with a mobile app. Most virtual platforms have a mobile application that enables attendees to network whether virtual or live.
- Focus on speaker training. Most speakers are professionals who have adapted to the virtual space. Regardless, it is worth working with each of your speakers to ensure they understand how to speak to both audiences. Whether they deliver content in person or via livestream, speakers must get their message across effectively. It is the event producer’s responsibility to ensure speakers are prepared for both mediums of content delivery.
- New sponsorship opportunities. With a virtual tradeshow comes expanded sponsorship opportunities. This includes banner ads, scrolling ads, on-demand sessions and more. Train sponsors on the virtual platform so they know the best ways to capture leads. To take full advantage of the hybrid model, ensure there is a full list of the opportunities available to your sponsors online and onsite.
- Consider exhibitor teams. Another factor to consider when planning a hybrid tradeshow is exhibitor teams. Their main focus during the tradeshow is to meet people, schedule meetings and make connections. Make it easy for exhibitors to schedule meetings onsite and online by offering a calendar plug-in or exhibitor rooms where they can take meetings.
Hybrid Training Sessions
- Experiential activities. A split audience does not mean there cannot be organized, fun activities to boost your event message. Always ensure there are activities for both audiences. Schedule a DJ or happy hour for both onsite and virtual audiences. Whether this means an evening or day-time activity like matcha making, activities guarantee both audiences are kept engaged and networking throughout the course of the event.
- Incorporate a social feed. During training activities, it is important that attendees feel connected to one another. An excellent solution to this is a social wall built within the virtual platform. A social wall hosted on the platform acts as a news feed of the various training sessions and activities. Attendees can post hashtags, gifs and images from their activities. This encourages networking from the virtual to in-person audience and guarantees attendee connection at your event.
- Share educational materials. An advantage of a hybrid event is the ability to continuously share materials with attendees. Whether this means handouts, worksheets, or training videos, materials can be shared with both audiences through the virtual platform. This is a fantastic way to keep all materials in a convenient place for attendees to refer to. A central place for resources offers a seamless attendee journey.
This guide should jumpstart your thoughts around hybrid events. No matter the type of hybrid event you plan, always remember you now have two different audiences with two different types of needs. When these audiences are considered both separately and together, a successful hybrid event is sure-fire. If you are interested in learning more about MGME or have questions regarding your hybrid event programs, get in touch with us today!