As we move further away from the restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have to acknowledge that life has yet to return to “normal.” The past two years have reshaped how we do business and how we move about in the world on both a professional and personal level. For that reason, hybrid events remain a crucial option for companies eager to move forward, while respecting the safety concerns of their clients and colleagues.
That’s why we’ve dedicated a post to unpacking some smart strategies to help you plan your next hybrid event. The fact is, five years ago, hybrid events weren’t really on anyone’s radar. Now, with the emphasis on accommodating everyone’s post-pandemic wishes, it’s easy for even the best of intentions to fall short.
We’re here to help you take hold of the hybrid event helm and avoid some of the pitfalls that result from failure to plan appropriately.
So, What are the Pitfalls to Planning a Hybrid Event?
Hybrid events are attractive just by their very nature — a surefire solution to pleasing everyone, whether they prefer to attend in-person or remotely. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, “In 2021, 64% of businesses say they’re increasing their virtual events, and 58% say they’re planning for a mix of virtual and in-person events,” a trend that has continued now, midway through 2022.
The trouble is “surefire” doesn’t mean foolproof and hosting a hybrid event comes with its own unique challenges. Now is the time to understand — and overcome — them.
Here are a few hybrid event pitfalls to avoid:
Embracing event inclusion in name only.
When you host a hybrid event, equal and engaging attention must be paid to both the remote and in-person attendees. It’s critical that companies embrace inclusivity in more than words and empower all participants to actively engage with the presentations, breakout sessions, Q&A formats, even social networking events like happy hours. Consider this statistic: 39% of people who attended hybrid events virtually state that they do not feel included in the event. This is an opportunity to bring more mindfulness to your hybrid event and ensure that virtual participants are given equal attention.
Spreading the event budget too thin.
Unlike the events of the past, companies eager to host hybrid events have to allocate funds appropriately to ensure adequate in-person and virtual offerings.
Missed opportunities to make meaningful connections for both audiences pre and post-event.
Connecting to these two unique audiences ahead of the event will keep them interested and excited to attend. Certainly, these efforts need to carry throughout the event itself, with special attention dedicated to staying in touch with meaningful content after the event has ended. The event might be over, but hosts need to nurture the connections made by staying top of mind with relevant offers.
Failure to plan… (you know the rest).
A recent poll of event organizers found that nearly 33% experienced issues with internet connectivity, which negatively impacted the virtual component of their hybrid event. What percentage do you think had a backup internet connection in place? Not many — only 12% in fact. Remember: Every plan needs a backup plan.
With an understanding of what to avoid, set your sights on the following five smart strategies to help you plan for hybrid event success.
Pathable’s 5 Proven Strategies for Hybrid Event Success
Whether you’ve never planned a hybrid event or consider yourself old hat, keep in mind the following tips for a successful experience, not only for your business and bottom line, but your attendees, both live and virtual.
Clarify Your Cause
In other words, why are you hosting a hybrid event? After all, plenty of companies have embraced a total return to in-person offerings, so why have you opted for hybrid? A clear answer will help you determine how to effectively offer events, lectures, workshops, and breakout sessions both online and in person. What is the goal of this event? How can you leverage the unique merits of in-person and virtual to your advantage? It can help to put yourself in the shoes of your attendees in order to evaluate whether both options are going to deliver the value they should.
Scout Location… and Platform
A trick to hosting any event is scouting the right location. The right location requires adequate space and conveniences like ample parking, but it should also reflect some aspect of your brand or business. Ideally, the space itself should be a conversation starter for in-person attendees. As if these factors weren’t enough to consider, hybrid event organizers also need to secure a reliable online platform to launch the livestream component of their event, and organize vital attendee information, including ticketing and registration.
Curate Compelling Content
Although this sounds like a big task — and it is — creating content that matters to your audience can be as simple as reviewing what’s worked in the past and aligning that with current industry issues, concerns, and developments. Review your business’ blog and social channel and do a quick audit on the posts that inspired the most engagement. Ask yourself what it is your event attendees need or want to know in order to keep competitive in their field and do more for their customer base. When it comes to creating content — whether on a regular basis or specifically for your event — always keep value for the consumer as the primary focus.
Get Social, Both In Person and Online
This is arguably a bit trickier and maybe even more important with respect to virtual attendees. When the pandemic pushed business communication almost exclusively online, Zoom meetings became the norm and, consequently, so did Zoom fatigue. We’ve all zoned out on a virtual call and it’s far too easy to avoid engaging when we feel like just another face in the gallery. Did you know that the typical no-show percentage of virtual events is 35%? For these reasons, creating meaningful opportunities for audience engagement at hybrid events is critical. Some virtual event engagement strategies that have proven effective include games, contents, quizzes, polls, and even “choose your own adventure” style opportunities for attendees to decide what session or presentation they want to engage with next. Certainly the same types of opportunities can be made available to in-person attendees and you also have the added convenience of scheduling small breakout sessions, roundtable discussions, and post-event cocktails or meals (bonus points if those are provided by event sponsors!).
Secure Support from Strategic Partnerships
An easy place to start is during the scouting process for your location. Would a local business host your event in exchange for sponsorship perks? Depending on the size of your hybrid event, exposure alone could be enough reason for a business to open its doors and make its AV capabilities accessible to you. Aside from a host sponsor, you’ll want to solicit other sponsors — and strategy is key. Find businesses whose products or services will benefit your attendees and isolate opportunities for them to showcase or share those items and expertise through event marketing collateral, sponsored digital downloads, presentation, and speaking engagements. The sky’s the limit when it comes to involving your sponsors in ways that will delight and deliver for event attendees. Engaging in conversations with these potential sponsors well ahead of the event date is a great way to glean that information and ensure the event benefits all involved.
As with any event — in-person, virtual or hybrid — be sure to thank your attendees for their participation, as well as the sponsors who helped make the event possible. Consider partnering with a company that specializes in custom branded virtual and hybrid event gifts to send as a thank you to all event attendees and sponsors. What a perfect way to express gratitude and leave your mark — quite literally!
Get started today
There is no better time to upgrade or begin your journey with event technology like a hybrid engagement solution.
For more information on Pathable’s end-to-end event management software, including their mobile event app, book your free demo today.