Chances are, by now, you have heard of a Hybrid Event. It’s been a major buzzword in the event industry. In case this is a new term for you, this is a type of event that integrates both in-person and virtual components. Event hosts have recognized the amazing opportunity this provides them to expand their reach and include a wider variety of speakers and attendees. Attendees are loving this concept because they have the ability to attend events that they may not have otherwise had the opportunity to. Hybrid events allow hosts to market to a broader audience, host more participants (without increasing the venue space and food and beverage minimums), generate additional revenue in ticket sales, attract larger sponsors, gain greater control over costs and even strengthen attendee communities. Both in-person and virtual events have their benefits and drawbacks. Many people are excited for the return of in-person events, while others are more comfortable joining remotely. By catering to both parties, hybrid events ARE THE FUTURE of events.
Hosting a hybrid event adds a layer of complexity, and because it is unknown for so many, the added risks and potential mistakes can be high.
Keep reading to learn about the most common mistakes and how to avoid them:
Selecting the Wrong Platform
There is no shortage of event platforms to choose from and even though they seem similar, no two are the same and it can be challenging to navigate all the different technologies available.
Selecting the appropriate platform will determine the experience for your virtual attendees, and there are many features and components that you may wish to include. It is important that all the information flows in and out of one system -- avoid using different platforms for in-person and virtual attendees.
Hybrid platforms can be (and should be) incorporated as early as the registration process, through the event itself, and even after the event is over to provide you and the attendees with the tools to maintain momentum and ongoing connections.
We suggest choosing a platform that has everything you need from registration to analytics and will be the “go-to” location for all participants, before, during, and after the event.
Your hybrid platform should optimize your attendee experience and create cohesion between the in-person and virtual attendees and increase engagement. Make sure that your platform provides you with all of the tools to make lasting impressions and connections and has the capabilities to fuse the two audience segments together.
Consider consulting with an event company that has experience with many of the available platforms and can guide you in the right direction based on your needs and budget.
Underestimating your Internet Needs
This is one of the most common, and easily avoidable mistakes that we see people make. The internet plays a vital part in making any online event a success. It’s critical to have substantial dedicated bandwidth and a hard-wired connection. Yes, this will add to your budget, AND more importantly, will eliminate the risk for sub-par wi-fi and dropped signals. Imagine the embarrassment of having to refund all of your virtual attendees because you were unable to stream the content to them.
Catering to In-Person Attendees Only
Just as it’s crucial to have an in-person emcee, it’s also worth considering having a virtual one. They can communicate with people who are attending virtually and make sure that all of their questions are answered. Adding extra touches like this will enhance their experience, lead to longer viewing time, higher engagement, and conversions.
Check out our blog post about the importance of having an event emcee and how to hire one!
Sub-Par Broadcast Quality
When you are a virtual attendee at an in-person event, the expectation is different than that of a 100% virtual event. Give special consideration to camera angles, music, light, and video quality. Make sure that the virtual attendees can see and hear the attendees in the room, and vice versa. Be cognizant of breaks and ensure that virtual attendees can see (and become part of) the excitement in the room and feel the energy through the screen. (This is where an incredible AV team comes into play).
Using The Standard Run Of Show
A run-of-show is an event planner's bible when it comes to “keeping the train on the tracks” during an event. Countless hours are put into creating this spreadsheet that details every component of the event, down to the very minute. It includes cues for audio, visuals, lights, graphics, prompts, etc. A hybrid event is no different. Make sure that your run-of-show includes dedicated columns for virtual-only components. Ideally, you will have outlined what camera angles are being broadcast, what screens will be displayed, planned chat cues that can be copied and pasted, and any notes for your virtual emcee.
An on-site tech check is non-negotiable and it’s common practice to run through the checklist of sound, light, audio, video, etc. to feel confident you are ready to seamlessly execute on show day. When adding a hybrid component, you have to test and RE-TEST. Test from the experience of the attendee in the room, then repeat the process for the attendee consuming the content at home. When testing the virtual attendee side, it is helpful to have someone off-site that can mimic the virtual attendee.
Recording the Event
If you are providing a replay of the event, REMEMBER TO RECORD IT. Leverage your on-site AV team to record directly from their equipment. You will receive a higher quality recording, and reduce the risk of having a “cloud file” corrupted. Use the cloud recording as your backup!
Bonus Tip: Do your best to deliver video recordings as soon as possible, especially if you are running concurrent sessions. You can always update the platform with the edited video files once they are available. To facilitate faster delivery, have your team start and stop the recording between sessions so you have smaller files to work with.
A lot of effort is required to make a hybrid event successful and you should start planning as early as you can. If you are going to hold a hybrid event, make sure to look into all the above points, and have conversations with other hosts, planners, and audio/ visual teams to ensure you have everything in place for a seamless event. Hybrid events may have been a solution to the pandemic, and the benefits have proven that they are here to stay!
If you’re considering hosting a hybrid event this year and it feels overwhelming,(and even if it doesn't) we would love to hear about it. Book a free strategy call where we can provide you with some additional tips and tricks that will set you up for success.