Hybrid Events: Where the Best of In-Person and Virtual Intersect

Hybrid Events: Where the Best of In-Person and Virtual Intersect

5 min read

Copied to clipboard

Hybrid Event platform

All event planners know the high-stakes stress associated with event management details. It can be fun, but event management is demanding — even unforgiving at times — from planning and hosting to making strategic follow-ups with sponsors and attendees.  


No wonder an unexpected historic challenge like the COVID-19 pandemic complicated and challenged event planning even further. This resulted in 96% of event professionals dealing with cancellations and record-high loss of business.  


Fortunately, this forced professionals in every sector to reimagine how they could do business. As author Roy T. Bennett advised, “When things do not go your way, remember that every challenge — every adversity — contains within it the seeds of opportunity and growth.”   


In this case, those seeds planted the growth of hybrid events, which we believe represent the best that in-person and virtual have to offer.   


While hybrid events present unique challenges, an increasing number of event planners rely on them to get back to business and make things happen as we move forward. In fact, 34% of event professionals plan to invest in hybrid, with 21% of marketers pursuing a hybrid event platform. 


In order to appreciate what hybrid has to offer your next event, let’s review the benefits of both in-person and virtual. We’ll also take a hard look at the challenges posed by hybrid so that we can empower any event professionals planning to host hybrid for the first time.   


In appreciation of in-person events 


Despite the collective anxiety leveled upon us by the COVID-19 pandemic, people are fans of in-person events. In fact, 89% prefer in-person, citing these events as irreplaceable.   


According to research by The National Press Club, “The human factor and relationship building experience is the #1 reason people attend events.” Open communication and in-person engagement are still very important.  


Enter the virtual world.   


Virtual-Specific Virtues 

Like it or not, the pandemic forced most interactions online in the name of safety. Since we couldn’t meet in person, weekly social events occurred through Zoom, and we all did our best to achieve some semblance of everyday interaction. The virtual environment allowed more access to certain groups who otherwise would have not attended due to coast or location. 


Concerning event management, virtual has more virtues than vices. While many of us might be feeling Zoom fatigue, virtual events are kinder to budgets and take far less time to plan and execute.   


However, being kind to budgets doesn’t always translate as being fun for the audience. When asked to rate virtual events, attendees are twice as likely to designate them “not fun at all,” compared to attending in person. That’s a challenge that event professionals must consider to inspire attendee engagement and deliver quality content that makes an impression.   


Overcoming the no-fun factor is a worthy goal when you consider virtual events’ reach compared to in-person opportunities.   


Event planners can’t overlook that virtual event attendance is often easier for a larger number of potential attendees to manage than in-person attendance. Rather than shell out money to travel to an in-person event, a virtual attendee must only log on from the comfort of their living room, kitchen, office, or car. They can also be wherever you need them to be, relative to your event.   


Hybrid: The Middle Ground that Matters Right Now 

Although some people would argue that we have more or less returned to normal, there are still those among us who are hesitant to gather in person and prefer the virtual format, whether for meetings, classes, or events. When planning an event, you’ll likely want to go hybrid to reach a wider audience and do so in a way that supports everyone’s need to feel safe and in control.   


Simply put, hybrid offers the best of both worlds by allowing those who register to attend in person or virtually. They have the choice, which means your job is to ensure that both options are equally compelling and accessible. In other words, you can’t prioritize one format over the other.  


Trust us when we say your attendees will notice and the response could undercut your overall event management efforts.   


Enlisting the help of a virtual and hybrid event platform will help you manage all aspects of planning and promoting your event in ways that will resonate with both specific audiences. 


Heads Up: Hybrid Presents Unique Challenges 

While hybrid seems like the obvious answer, it comes with its own unique challenges.   


Perhaps the biggest challenge is introducing both virtual and in-person audiences to each other and inspiring meaningful interactions between them. Approximately 71% of event managers report that connecting in-person and virtual audiences represents their toughest hurdle.   


It is not surprising then that a reported 39% of hybrid event attendees who engaged virtually felt excluded from the action… and the interaction.   


Remember what Roy Bennett said about challenges and seeds of opportunity?   


Overcoming Hurdles to Hybrid Event Success 

A hybrid event brings together the best of in-person events when done well which makes a personal connection through face-to-face interaction and networking more accessible. For example, you can offer virtual chat and appointment schedulers to your online platform.   


Similarly, virtual is budget-friendly and time-saving for those unable or unwilling to travel and/or return to in-person opportunities. With a virtual event, you can connect with remote attendees in an increasingly familiar format.   


As for those above and authentic challenges inherent in hybrid events, the opportunity here is to master two critical components. Communication and content can help overcome these disparities in a hybrid event… but these need to be supported by cutting-edge technology that makes everyone feel like they are in the same room, regardless of their location.   


The connection between these two groups is infinitely more accessible with a virtual and hybrid event platform. These events facilitate communication between in-person and virtual attendees via intuitive software.   


By investing the time to educate yourself on best practices and strategies to help you plan your next hybrid event, you will strike the right balance between in-person and virtual. Thus you’ll deliver the best of both worlds to your attendees.  


Discover Pathable’s Virtual Platform  

When you’re ready to plan, promote, and power your hybrid event, book a demo and access our outstanding customer service team to get you up and running!