Within the event industry, hybrid events are increasingly popular but what is a hybrid event? Should I hold a hybrid conference and how do I plan a hybrid event?
These are all the common questions you guys have been asking when visiting our conference venue in Milton Keynes. This article aims to guide you through all the essentials in regard to hybrid events.
As opposed to physical events, hybrid events are quickly becoming the future of meetings as they are cost-effective, lower your carbon footprint and can improve your ROI! But what is a hybrid event?
What is a Hybrid Event?
A hybrid event is a conference, meeting or event that takes place in person and virtually.
A common hybrid event example is an AGM meeting, where the board members are in a venue, broadcasting via a virtual platform to viewers across the country.
Leading corporations have been utilising hybrid events for the past few years. Take Apple for example, with the technology available, they are able to live stream the unveiling of new products to viewers across the world, whilst also having a live audience! This gives the user the same experience as the journalists and reviewers who are attending the event.
Or how about Moz Con? This was a hybrid conference that recorded all sessions taking place at the venue. This worked well because it meant viewers could go back and rewatch the seminars and workshops. It also made the event affordable to a wider audience, as digital passes were cheaper than tickets for the in-person event.
These hybrid event examples proved the importance of hybrid meetings and how they are quickly becoming the normality for event planning.
Types of Hybrid Events
The two main types of hybrid events are internal and external.
What is an internal hybrid event?
Internal hybrid events are, well, an internal event. They are designed to benefit your internal stakeholders, employees and staff. With working from home becoming normality, the pool of talent when hiring can be spread out to wider areas.
Your company may have employees across the UK and for larger corporations, across the globe. This can make it extremely difficult to get employees together in one meeting room. This is where hybrid conferences come into play.
You can pick a conference venue to host the board members and then live stream the event to the rest of the company. Common internal hybrid conference examples are:
- Sales kickoffs
- Company-wide meetings
- Company spirit weeks
What is an external hybrid event?
External hybrid events are targeted at your customer base and prospect clients. This is a great way to entice more people to your event. You can offer discounted prices for digital passes, meaning guests who were either unable to afford the in-person event or were unable to travel are now able to attend.
An external hybrid event will also lower your carbon footprint, and with sustainability now on everyone’s mind, you can utilise this as a great marketing strategy. Some popular external hybrid events are:
- Trade shows
- Product launches
- Gaming Events
Benefits of a Hybrid Event
Hopefully, by now you understand exactly what is a hybrid event. We have touched upon a couple of the benefits of a hybrid event such as lowering your carbon footprint and increased attendance, but there are so many more benefits! Benefits of hybrid conferences include:
Increased Reach & Higher Attendance
When hosting a hybrid event, you are opening up to a whole new audience. When executed correctly, you will increase your reach and engagement.
A hybrid event can help boost the attendance of future events as it gives the audience a choice to ‘sample’ your event.
You also have to remember that no matter the type of event you host, there will always be potential prospects who are unable to attend. Whether that’s due to affordability, travel restrictions or other circumstances.
A hybrid event allows the people who want and can be at your event to attend, whilst still allowing the people who want to attend but can’t in-person still to view the event online.
It also allows the people who are on the fence about whether you are worth their time or not to attend in the comfort of their own home – much more appealing than having to travel to a venue for something that is potentially of no relevance to you.
A study found that 70% of respondents feel that hybrid meetings will be important to future meetings, and 23% of respondents said that attendance was up in future years at their face to face events.
Hybrid Events Help To Lower Carbon Footprint
It makes sense really, by reducing the number of attendees onsite, you are reducing your events carbon footprint. How do hybrid events lower carbon footprint?
- Less travel by attendees
- Fewer meals are thrown away
- Less transportation of rental tables and chairs
- Less disposable accessories
Hybrid Events are a fantastic way to promote your company as an environmentally conscious organisation. It also gives attendees who feel guilty about their own carbon footprint the opportunity to view the event online rather than travel to a venue.
Increased Sponsorship Value
Did you know that 72% of sponsors are interested in hybrid solutions that combine in-presence with digital events?
Sponsorships now have the ability to effectively reach two audiences. The in-person audience and virtual audience. They have the ability to connect one on one with your in-house attendees whilst still interacting with online audiences. It’s a win-win!
Not only is this great for the sponsors, but it’s also great for your business too! You can opt for multiple sponsorships – one to target your attendees and then online sponsors.
As we’ve been aware for a while now, digital is the future. A hybrid event will often be the preferred choice for millennials who prefer interacting virtually.
What was that magic sentence? Improved return on investment! We know that calculating ROI can be extremely difficult for events because of all the jigsaw pieces.
However, we know for sure that hybrid events can improve your return on investment due to increased reach and scalability. As you are reaching a wider audience, this will naturally result in more signups, more views for sponsors and more enquiries to convert into business!
Once you get into the swing of hybrid events, the technology typically only needs to be set up once and from here it’s easy to replicate across multiple events.
For an even greater ROI, you have the ability to reduce onsite costs by expanding your online presence.
This is one of the most important benefits of a hybrid event. Data is becoming harder to acquire, and a hybrid event is a brilliant way to get insights into your shows or conferences.
A live event is really hard to gather valuable information. You can do a headcount, but how much were your attendees engaged?
A hybrid event will let you see metrics from users such as when they dropped out of a session and how many attendees were at which seminars. This data is highly valuable as it allows you to improve future events. You’ll get specific information on what parts of the event the audience participated in and which parts they dropped out of.
Should I hold a hybrid event or an onsite event?
I know we are raving about hybrid events. They are great. However, how do you know if you should host a hybrid event? Sometimes onsite events are a must and sometimes a fully virtual event will be the most beneficial.
Hybrid events are the perfect combination of in-person and online events but can take a lot of planning and preparation. You need to tailor the experience to two completely different audiences which can be extremely difficult.
There are two sets of audiences that you need to engage with and this will require two completely different strategies. A hybrid event should only be used if you have the time to execute it perfectly. Hybrid events are great for:
- Trade shows
- Sales kickoffs
- Global events
Hybrid events are a great way to expand your audiences whilst still engaging face-to-face with the attendees who are willing to travel to a venue. A pre-event survey is a good way to gather information on whether a hybrid event is a right choice for you. If you have a good mix of people wanting a virtual and in-person event, you know hybrid is the way to go!
Sometimes, you just can’t beat an onsite event. The anticipation and excitement just aren’t the same with a virtual event. If you want an entirely onsite event, then it will be because you know that you can’t properly translate or communicate the event properly over virtual platforms. This can be event types such as:
- Small customer luncheons
- Team activities or building
- Awards ceremonies
An onsite event will require a lot of planning and forward-thinking. If you are looking for a hybrid event venue then contact Kents Hill Park, we are experienced in hosting large corporate events, from training to conferences and team building days.
Virtual events are great if you have a low-budget but still want to reach a large pool of delegates. They are perfect if the information you want to share can easily be done so over an online platform. People hate to have their time wasted (ever been in a meeting that could have been an email?), so if it is something that isn’t valuable enough to host an onsite event, then do it virtually. Some great examples of virtual events:
- Team meetings
- Study groups
Virtual meetings are something that will forever be useful for saving both time and money.
How to plan a successful hybrid event
How do you make sure that your hybrid event is a success? There are so many factors to consider within your event strategy. It isn’t just simply hosting an event with a camera recording in the background. You need your event management team to ensure that both audiences are constantly engaged with your content.
One event, two experiences
This is the primary thing to remember when planning a hybrid event. You now know what is a hybrid event. But knowing how to plan a hybrid event is something completely different. How do you target two separate audiences within the same event?
You will have to deliver your content differently to both groups. Make sure your streaming service is working correctly and that your speakers are happy to be recorded and filmed. Your speakers will also have to perform a balancing act between speaking into the camera to gain the attention of the online attendees, whilst still engaging with the audience right in front of them.
You should make sure that the content you are providing is relevant to both the in-person audience and the online audience. Remember, it’s one event, two virtual experiences!
To keep two different audiences engaged, your content has to be interesting. With home comforts all around the virtual attendees, it can be even harder to keep their attendance than those who are attending the event live. Make sure your content translates well over online platforms. Incorporate Q&As that keep the online audience involved.
You should also make sure your content is digestible. No one, online or in-person wants to sit through a 3-hour talk. Keep your presentations short and sweet with interactive activities in between.
Of course, as with any event, a great marketing strategy is a must-have. What is the point of hosting a hybrid event if nobody knows about it? We’re talking about social media posts, flyers, blogs and news articles! Go nuts!
Let people know that it is a hybrid event – target those who may not be able to afford or attend the onsite event with discounted digital passes.
Let your primary audience know that the event is still going to be hosted onsite, where they can get face to face interaction.
Your marketing plan is critical in creating a successful hybrid event.
Navigate time zones
A common problem you may encounter, especially if you are a global business is time zones. 10 am is a great time to kick off your conference, but someone overseas isn’t exactly going to be up at 1 am to attend your event. Make sure all of your seminars and sessions are easily accessible after the event and can be accessed on-demand.
If you have large audiences on either side of the globe, then think about hosting multiple live sessions so that everyone can attend your hybrid conference at a sensible time.
Where do I host a hybrid event?
Where do you host a hybrid event? Lots of places can help with this. At Kents Hill Park, we are experienced in hosting an array of hybrid events with our large event space. Whilst we believe that face to face meetings cannot be replaced, we also understand the importance of attending virtually has in today’s digital world.
Our event organizers will help you plan the perfect hybrid event and give you the guidance you need for a successful conference or event. We can help with the physical space, event registration websites and payment processing, delegate management, sourcing the right hosting software.
For more information, visit our hybrid events page and get in touch today!
What is a hybrid event? A quick recap!
We hope that you are now knowledgeable in all things hybrid! The aim of this article was to teach you the basics in hosting a hybrid event, why it’s the future of meetings and how balance is key when creating an online and onsite event.
As a quick recap we discussed the following:
- What is a hybrid event?
- Types of hybrid events; internal and external
- Benefits of a hybrid event
- When you should host a hybrid event
- How to plan a hybrid event
Have you booked your hybrid event and now need help ticking off a few essentials on your checklist? Then we think you’d love this blog post! Essential checklist for planning a conference or an event
If you need any more information on virtual hybrid events, then get in touch and a member of our friendly team will be happy to get in touch with you to discuss your requirements.