Hybrid events have caught the fancy of the marketing world. Being able to combine the networking and engagement opportunities of a live, in-person event with the reach and accessibility of a virtual one has convinced event managers worldwide that hybrid events are the future. Over 70% of the respondents of a survey conducted by the Meeting Professionals International Organisation agreed with that fact. And for good reason.
Hosting a hybrid event helps you connect an internationally dispersed audience over a single platform, pushing your brand reach to new highs. Additionally, they generate more leads, give up to 3X ROI within a year, and offer unique sponsorship opportunities that would have otherwise been unavailable.
Unfortunately, most marketers continue to scratch their heads when faced with hosting a hybrid event successfully. There are many unanswered questions.
How to manage an at-venue as well as a virtual audience simultaneously? How to create and maintain engagement levels of the audience? How to create networking opportunities between your at-venue and virtual attendees? How to analyse and gain valuable analytical insights from the attendee behaviour ?
There are simply so many doubts that need to be addressed before one can plan and host a hybrid event.
Here are the 6 questions that you should ask before you host a successful hybrid event that not only engages your audience but also fills up your lead pipelines.
6 Questions to Ask Before Hosting A Hybrid Event
What is your budget?
While hybrid events are not as expensive as in-person events, there are budget allocations that need to be kept in mind. Since you’ll be interacting with both, a live audience as well as a virtual one, you’ll need to ensure that the software and equipment needed for both are in place.
For the digital part of your event, you’ll need to invest in a robust event management platform that offers more than just live streaming. Many advanced software include data management, engagement, and networking features.
For the offline version of the event, you’ll need to account for a venue, logistics support, audio-visual, equipment, speakers, refreshments, and other miscellaneous expenses that are usually required.
Which platform will you use to host the event?
Since virtual audiences will form a huge chunk of your agenda, it’s necessary to ensure that they are given high-quality live streaming along with session recordings and other engagement pushers. They need to be treated at par with the people sitting in your live event. The best way to do this is by investing in the right hybrid event platform that offers the required functionalities.
Highly rated hybrid event platforms include a whole suite of features – event apps, networking rooms, pre and post-event marketing, recordings, chatrooms, virtual emcees, sponsorship opportunities, and valuable data and reports.
Each one of these characteristics goes into turning your event into a successful one.
What is your event app strategy?
One of the key challenges faced by hybrid event managers is integrating the two disparate audiences into a single, unified platform while catering to the different needs of the two.
This can be achieved by introducing a mobile application specifically designed for your event. This app can act as a bridge between your live venue and the virtual platform, connecting them seamlessly.
Your app shouldn’t just be a simplistic version of the event agenda and itinerary – it should be an intricate interface for both the sets of audiences to learn, interact, and engage with each other as well as the speakers.
It can be used to relay information to the audience before as well as during the event. It can be personalized for the attendees based on data points such as interests and goals. It can act as a common platform for the speakers to interact with the listeners. Moreover, it can also allow networking between the two factions by acting as an enabling platform.
How do you plan on marketing the event?
Conventionally, in-person event marketing has been done through channels such as radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, billboards, and localized digital ads. Not only are these mediums expensive, but their reach is also limited to the local area.
Hybrid events circumvent these issues by harnessing the benefits of a virtual event. Your audience isn’t local anymore – it’s spread out all over the world. Similarly, your marketing approach, too, needs to be geared towards reaching the maximum number of relevant people, no matter their location. Use a combination of a content marketing strategy and a paid ads strategy to strategically position your event for success.
What is your approach to garnering sponsorship for the hybrid event?
Hybrid events have scaled in the last couple of years for many reasons, one of which is sponsorship.
With hybrid events, you can leverage untapped sponsorship opportunities. Apart from the title and banner sponsors for the live event, your digital platform and event app can also attract sponsors.
Many platforms have a tiered sponsorship feature. For instance, there could be table sponsors, room sponsors, talk sponsors, tech sponsors, as well as gifting and hospitality sponsors. The app can also host another cohort of sponsors that want to gain more visibility within the audience.
How do you plan on keeping the virtual audience engaged?
Your virtual audience is fickle – they’re constantly distracted and have a tiny attention span. Keeping them engaged is key to maintaining the integrity of the event.
The first point to look at is the agenda or itinerary. Create a separate agenda for the offline and virtual attendees. This way you can cater to the special needs of both sets. Limit the events wherein both the audiences are attending together. If there is such an event then educate the speaker on how to keep the virtual audience interested. Simple things such as interactive presentations, commentary, and chat rooms can go a long way.
The event app can act as a connecting medium. Since even the live attendees will have phones, both the sets of audiences can interact with each other as well as the speaker via the app.
Hybrid Events Are The Future
Live events are known for their high levels of engagement and interaction while virtual events are known for their insane reach and low operating costs. Combining the two gives you the chance to multiply the advantages of both while negating the cons. But this is only possible if you host a hybrid event the right way. Answering all the above-given questions while planning your event will not only give you a competitive edge but also put you and your brand on the fast track for more leads, more conversions, and more profits.