If your event was cancelled due to social distancing and safety measures regarding COVID-19, a fully online conference used to be the best option. But now, when the restrictions have been toned down, a hybrid event will give you the best of two worlds.
If you’re planning a hybrid event for the first time, you’re not alone. Here is what you need to know about hybrid event organization, and 5 of our best tips and tricks that will help you succeed.
Managing a hybrid event
Hybrid events are organized at the venue, with the use of online technologies to reach the virtual audience. Attendees love hybrid events because of the flexibility - they can choose how they want to participate in the event and how to interact with it.
Organizing a hybrid event, you should at least be aware of what your attendees want to gain from participation. You should also be prepared to manage both physical and online sessions yourself.
In order to succeed, you need an event management platform. Such a platform is a tool designed to enhance many organizational aspects of the event, so that both the organizers and attendees can focus on the content. It can handle selling tickets online and attendee registration, but also help you organize an online event.
Since hybrid events grow due to the high quality of technology, you will need an advanced event management platform. It will ensure that the event is going according to plan.
What attendees look for in hybrid events
Hybrid events are a great way of bringing people together in the best moments. With the virtual component, hybrid events create more opportunities to participate, and with elements like gamification, virtual maps, lobby, or live stream, many people will feel as if they were actually there.
However, there are some things your attendees expect from a hybrid event.
The first thing is the possibility of full virtual participation. Your hybrid event should cater to online attendees, meaning that they must be able to participate in any session, online events, and talk to vendors and speakers. Online attendees should also have the ability to participate in online sessions and some sessions which are exclusively available online.
If possible, use an event app. Event apps are plenty useful for attendees participating on-site.
Typical complaints regarding hybrid events
As an event organizer, before you start planning your hybrid event, you need to know what can go wrong. Some of the more common problems with hybrid events:
- Poor transmission quality. The quality of an online event depends on internet connection, hardware, and software. Low transmission quality can greatly decrease attendee satisfaction and general impression of the event. Stuttering video feed and interrupted speaker sessions can distract attendees from the content. As the organizer, you need to make sure that the virtual component is fail proof and you have access to IT specialists who will support you in technical issues.
- Too few options. A hybrid event is targeted at both on-site and online attendees. Thus, when organizing a hybrid event, you need to make sure that there are enough options for both, giving your attendees the value they expect. Problems in this regard usually include difficulties in accessing the video stream, lack of online chat, or limited networking options. Remember that organizing a hybrid event is like organizing two separate events in one. You need to cater to both groups of attendees.
- Weak impression. Attendees who feel the delivered experience was subpar will do one of two things: they will either go to social media and share negative comments about your event, or they won’t mention your event at all. You want your attendees to love the event and share how awesome it was! In order to reach this goal, keep attendees engaged and give them what they want.
Just like with any offline or online event, there are moments when things go south or the event simply doesn’t deliver. It happens. However, with proper preparation, you can minimize the risk.
Tips for organizing hybrid events
Even though every event has a long checklist, we thought it would be best to draw up a list of 5 things, which are absolutely necessary for your hybrid event to stand out and succeed.
1. Get the right online event platform
Event management software is of utmost significance for staying organized. But when you pivot to hybrid, you need to make sure that the platform you use can handle the online audience. It should allow you to stream video, launch a live chat for attendees, and generate leads for sponsors and vendors.
A high quality virtual event platform can offer you all this, while keeping the attendee engagement level high.
Features you should look for in online event software include: live chat, lead generation, social media integration, streaming pre-recorded video, live video, and recording the stream.
2. Hire a virtual host
As an event organizer, you are perfectly aware that a traditional event will have an emcee, a host or someone who will encourage attendees to be engaged.
This is why it’s vital to hire a virtual host. A virtual host is a guide for online attendees.
Hiring one for your team will allow attendees to better focus on the content.
3. Test, test, test
Even if you’re an online event veteran, you need to test and try your systems to make sure that the online experience you provide will satisfy your attendees’ expectations.
Test everything at least twice before launching the event. This will give you a time margin for last-minute fixes before attendees start pouring in. Review the entire programme to identify any problems that may arise. Pay particular attention to the online chat - its features should work flawlessly.
4. Hire help
Any time you’re organizing an event with the virtual component, it’s important that you have immediate access to competent event organization experts, who will support you. This includes technical, customer relation, and marketing support. Should something go wrong, these experts will help you fix any issue.
5. Survey your past and future guests about the event tech they would like to see at your event
Your future virtual attendee may not understand the details of your online event platform or how exactly your hybrid event is organized. But they do understand what they like and what they dislike.
Sending surveys to past attendees will help you prepare for future events and pin down expectations of a virtual attendee. Moreover, such a survey can help you hype up the attendees for the future event. It can be a form of subtle event promotion. It shows the prospects that you care about their opinions.
Simply publish the survey in social media or include it in your mailing campaign.
Organizing a successful hybrid event
Running a hybrid event is like organizing two different kinds of events. First, you need to make sure that the classic component goes smoothly and is safe for attendees. At the same time, you must ensure that virtual components are supervised at all times.
Fortunately, acting in accordance with our tips and using a flexible online event platform like CONREGO, you should experience no difficulties. Contact us when you’re ready and learn how we can help you!