A Guide to Hybrid Events
Updated: Oct 10
Over the past couple of years, businesses have seen a shift in events. When the pandemic first began, we considered: will all events now be virtual? But as pandemic fatigue wore on, consumers craved a return to normalcy, while some still craved the safety of virtuality.
Recent disruptions have made us question: how do we engage with a diverse group of individuals, whether through a screen or in-person?
The answer is hybrid events.
People who want to engage from the comfort of their homes as well as people who want in-person interaction can now engage in the same event at the same time. It is a different kind of effort to manage a hybrid event. As leaders in this space, we wanted to provide a guide to hybrid events.
Read on to learn more about what qualifies as a hybrid event, how these differ from virtual events, and how to pull off a winning hybrid event experience.
What are Hybrid Events?
Hybrid events are a combination of in-person and virtual events.
In-person events: participants gather physically in the same venue location.
Virtual events: participants join an online event platform, from anywhere, typically at the same pre-designated time.
Hybrid events blend in-person and virtual events together.
Individuals can choose how they engage with the event, either online or at the physical venue. Both options allow access to all of the content from the event and networking opportunities (when relevant).
Hybrid Events vs. Virtual Events
Let’s compare hybrid events vs. virtual events. There are three key differences worth noting.
Cost — While a completely virtual event will save you considerable cost (think: no venue cost, no food and beverage, no decor, etc.), it is worth noting that hybrid events actually offer a higher ROI than purely in-person events. So, while more expensive than virtual events, hybrid events offer the opportunity to capitalize on attendees both in-person and virtual, while not being limited to the size of your physical event venue.
Audience Engagement — Another key difference is audience engagement. In the wake of COVID-19, we are all well acquainted with the challenges of video platforms. It’s a challenge to keep your audience properly engaged when they are fully virtual. Hybrid events, while having an in-person element, offer the opportunity for several creative solutions. First, you can have in-person activity options. Second, you can engage in-person attendees with virtual attendees, offering an opportunity for virtual attendees to truly feel like they are networking in-person. Lastly, several creative platforms exist to help engage your virtual attendees with creative hybrid event designs.
Time and Planning — Hybrid is combining essentially two events (in-person and virtual) into one. While there is crossover in the planning process, understand that hybrid events do lend themselves to more time spent planning. You are now responsible for the experience of both your virtual attendees and your in-person attendees. In the case of a virtual event, you are only designing an event for the virtual attendee.
What Do You Need to Support Hybrid Events?
Since hybrid events combine an element of virtual with in-person, technology will be at the core of a successful hybrid event. Let’s look at how you can utilize technology, and what you should consider when choosing different tools for your event.
Hybrid Event Planning
How do you plan for equitable access, ease of use, technical troubleshooting, etc. when planning a hybrid event? Let’s breakdown four key areas to consider in the planning process.
1. Choose a venue with the dual ability to host in-person attendees and produce high quality broadcast coverage for virtual attendees, as well as engagement between the two types of attendees during the hybrid event.
2. Choose the best online event platform for your event. Key functionalities to consider:
Full chat options
Live quiz capability
Calendar and social media integrations
3. Consider your event sponsors.
For hybrid events, sponsors should have the ability to promote themselves both in-person and virtually. Choose event sponsors with advanced digital capabilities and the infrastructure and team to produce content for both in-person and virtual attendees.
4. Partner with a qualified event planning team with experience producing hybrid events. The Wynning Experience offers services like A/V support, assistance with online platform selection and management, and venue sourcing to ensure that your event selections set you up for a successful hybrid event.
Hybrid Event Technology
Sophisticated event technology is key to a successful hybrid event. At The Wynning Experience, we offer consultation and recommendations on the best platforms to fit the needs of your event and most importantly, your audience.
When choosing event technology, you’ll want to consider how the technology with support you in the following areas:
Sign ups–how does the platform collect and sort sign-ups? Does it integrate with platforms your business already uses?
Email communication–does the platform offer pre-event email functionality to communicate with your attendees?
Virtual space/meeting rooms/logins, etc.–what types of virtual spaces and meeting rooms will you want to have accessible to attendees? Does the chosen platform support your hybrid event design?
Event casting/video/file sharing–make sure the platform has the broadcast capabilities to share your event virtually and share any necessary videos and files relevant to your event.
Networking and chats–with a hybrid event, you’ll want a platform where you can take advantage of breakout rooms, group chats, audio/video chat, text chat, Q&A’s and more. Successful implementation of networking and chats is a key differentiator for a successful hybrid event, as these functionalities integrate virtual and in-person attendees if executed successfully.
Follow up–does the platform offer an integrated way to perform easy follow-up with your attendees?
Learning how to present to both a live and online audience is challenging but doable with the right team, guidance and infrastructure behind you.
What is a hybrid presentation?
A hybrid presentation combines virtual and physical events together into one presentation, engaging both audiences. Through a hybrid presentation, all attendees can listen to speakers, network both offline and online, and participate in a variety of activities.
What makes for a successful hybrid presentation?
A best fit hybrid event platform. Understand your audience and consult with the right experts to select a hybrid event platform with the necessary functionalities to make your event successful.
Creative event design. This is where the experts come in to bring you tried and true hybrid event designs that we’ve seen work IRL (in real life). We don’t take chances on things that don’t work–we bring our extensive experience and data-supported knowledge to help design an event that drives your sales.
Engagement opportunities. The best hybrid presentations offer creative engagement opportunities for both virtual and in-person attendees–and better yet, they get the two types of attendees engaging with one another!
Plan a Winning Hybrid Event
The world of hybrid events is a new and exciting landscape in the events industry. With The Wynning Experience on your team, your brand will be able to deliver the same level of access, functionality and quality to both your in-person and virtual attendees.