Running a hybrid event was never a consideration of the average marketing team a few years ago. It used to be all or nothing, you were there in person or that was it. But due to the new virtual landscape, marketing teams have had to overcome, pivot and adapt.
But is a hybrid event always the right thing to do?
This is the question we were faced with when we were putting on our first in real life event earlier in the year. Would this format lose some of its sparkle? Would it take away from the in-room experience? Will it distract from the event? It was always great having everyone in the same room as they were in the same space, having the same experience.
The million-dollar was, would our IRL and virtual attendees get the same experience and enjoyment out of our event?
It was a decision we didn’t take lightly, and took a boatload of planning sessions, as you can imagine. But we got there in the end and were able to pull off one helluva event for all parties involved! Putting on a hybrid event in this new virtual frontier can be a real conundrum so we wanted to share our top tips on navigating the process of putting one on..
1. Decide whether it’s right for your event
A hybrid event, even though more common now, isn’t always the right way to go. It’s so easy to go in thinking this needs to be an element you MUST offer, but that’s not necessarily the case for every event. Look at what you are trying to achieve from your event and what you want the experience to be for your attendees.
As a note though, with a lot of uncertainty with events, it is great to have a backup!
2. Do your streaming research
Like any partners, you team up with, make sure that a streaming company takes the burden away from your internal team (unless you already have the skills needed!). We didn’t have the capacity, nor expertise in the streaming realm, so our initial trepidation and research into what we needed to do to run a seamless stream quickly showed us that going with an outside company was the way to go!
We got high-quality footage for the event aftermath, and it also took the pressure off of the marketing team so we could all really focus on our individual tasks and making the event the best it could possibly be the day of.
It is also important to bake this into the cost of the event as a few years ago this wouldn’t have even come into consideration! When we ran our hybrid event in October, we created the streaming onto our own website to ensure that people were navigating onto our website and were able to find out more about us if needed!
3. Have a covid sense check
Hybrid events have become a ‘thing’ due to the pandemic, however, it is also vital that your IRL event has been thought out to ensure people feel safe. As we have all seen over the past 20 months, anything to do with COVID is constantly changing and evolving. Make sure you are keeping an eye on current government regulations and your event “reads the room” when it comes to having measures in place to make attendees feel safe and comfortable.
Hiring out a larger venue than needed and having hand sanitiser at the front door are a couple of small steps you can take to ensure that your guests are worried.
4. Make it a memorable experience
When you have a hybrid event, you have two different audiences so you need to make sure that both experiences are great. Use platforms like Slido so that both audiences can get involved as it is as interactive as you can make it. Also, a key element is engaging with both audiences, so giving the virtual attendees a little shout out is a must!
5. Information is key
Both audiences need to have the right information to make joining the event, whether virtually or in real life, as easy as possible. In this case, we are firm believers that more is more! Whatever platform you use to communicate with your attendees, give them every little bit of information they could possibly want. As we had two different audiences we made sure the IRL and virtual attendees had their own communication sequence to make their attendance as seamless as possible.
You want it to be a delightful experience to make sure that the audiences think highly of your event and organisation, rather than a frustrating experience. Give them as much information as you can so that the event is a complete success!
But as is the way with events, you know you can expect some sort of zero-hour issue to crop up and stress you out. Just remember to keep calm, and get your event on! You’ve done your homework, prepared within an inch of your life and have all contingencies covered. Don’t sweat the small stuff and enjoy your event as much as you can because it’s over before you know it.
When we approached our IRL event in October, we really weren’t sure if a hybrid event was right. It felt daunting and unknown as well as an element of an IRL event that we had never dabbled in. However, after mulling the pros and cons over, it was clear that due to the new virtual landscape, it really was essential to reach a larger audience and make people feel safe to join.
This is definitely the future of events and we really hope our tips can help you run amazing events for both IRL and virtual audiences.