‘Hybrid events’ is a relatively new event format that is yet to conquer the world but that is definitely here to stay. With things slowly getting back to normal after the pandemic and people yearning to socialize and network again, the opportunity for such events seems to be endless. A hybrid format allows organizers to reach a larger audience, get higher attendance, invite speakers from all over the world, attract more sponsors, and various other benefits that wouldn’t be even remotely possible otherwise.
However, not everyone seems to be fully aware of the ins and outs of going hybrid. The problem is that online events are one thing, the offline ones are another, whereas hybrid events should combine both of those experiences and consider their peculiarities and maximize on their benefits. The main idea here is to connect and engage with every attendee to the fullest, regardless of where they join from. This begs the question: how do you make both audiences feel like two halves of one whole?
There are also some other challenges you, as an organizer, must take into account while working on hybrid events. We would like to outline the key challenges below, as well as provide possible solutions that will hopefully make your job easier.
One of the main stumbling blocks of organizing a hybrid event is the issue of providing online and offline audiences with an equally rewarding personalized experience, so that nobody feels left out. A solution is to make online attendees as present “in-person” as possible. This can be achieved by putting digital screens on walls with videos and photos of people joining online so that they can be visible to speakers and other attendees at the offline venue. For the online attendees to be even more visible in the crowd of onsite attendees, event organizers can use telerobots, like in this video. It was our own idea to draw attention to an exhibition stand at World Mobile Congress in Barcelona in 2017, but it can still be used to create the same vow-effect today at various types of hybrid events.
Another big dilemma that keeps event organizers up at night is how to create maximum opportunities for the on-site and remote audiences to connect and interact with each other. One option for that is to allocate specific time slots when online and offline participants can connect, and encourage them to do so. It is also important to organize coffee breaks in a way that does not put the online audience aside and creates special interaction experiences for them while the in-person participants enjoy networking.
The next challenge may not be that big of an issue for seasoned event management professionals, but may strike as such for beginners. We’re talking about venue selection – you have to remember to find a place with good internet connection and necessary A/V and live streaming equipment. The venue must also be of a size that would fit the equipment, staff, and people who opted for the offline experience of the event. The solution is to calculate everything well in advance and do a test-run with your team at the venue tomake sure everything goes as planned.
Last but not least, a challenge we would like to cover is the technical side of it all. Choosing the right event platform that is suitable for a hybrid format is something that defines a big chunk of the upcoming event’s success. Keep in mind that there is no universally suitable technology for every single event, so you must focus on finding the best one for your specific event goals. Conduct in-depth research, ask fellow colleagues from the event industry, and finally make the eventual decision.
Summing it up, we would like to emphasize that with the event industry steadily moving into a hybrid era, it is essential to be flexible and adaptable to new circumstances in order to get the best turnout and a great overall outcome. Since being forewarned about possible organizational complications means being forearmed, you are now much more prepared for the challenges ahead.
If you’re interested in learning more about hybrid events or discussing collaboration in organizing one for your organization, we invite you to schedule a video call with us at your convenience.