Let’s talk about one of the most dreaded subjects in the events industry: the hybrid event budget. As an amalgamation of in-person and virtual events, hybrid events are complex, versatile, and hard to budget for. While they are typically more expensive than in-person events, there are also many ways event planners can save money with a hybrid event and see a higher event ROI.
When it comes to hybrid event budgets, let the audience and event goals be your guide. Is the majority of your audience in-person or virtual? Do they attend your events for content, networking opportunities, or innovation? Identify your quantifiable event KPIs and make sure the majority of your budget goes towards reaching your event goals. In simpler terms, define your must-haves and your nice-to-haves.
While it is impossible to give event planners a generalized estimate of the budget for hybrid events, we can break it down into bite-sized items that’ll make the budgeting process much more manageable. Additionally, many in-house event marketers and planners seek out partnerships with event management companies that help them in the event planning process and build a strong event strategy.
Hybrid Event Budgets: How Much?
Because hybrid events can be broken down into in-person and virtual constituents, many planners worry whether the hybrid event budget is going to double as well. After all, they need to hire more event staff, pay for a virtual event platform, and engage two audiences in two completely separate ways while ensuring they can also interact with one another.
Because virtual events are usually cheaper to produce than in-person events, the hybrid event budget will not be double the traditional event budget. However, we generally recommend budgeting 1.5x of your in-person event budget for hybrid events. Keep in mind that there are many ways to save money on a hybrid event budget, too.
Ultimately, it is impossible to give an accurate estimate of how big your hybrid event budget should be. After all, hybrid events have numerous manifestations; from studio events to hub-spoke and synchronous to asynchronous hybrid events. The best way to get an estimate is to start calling vendors and building your event RFP. You can also hire an event management company that will help source everything for you and help you build a profitable event strategy.
Main Hybrid Event Budget Items
No matter the type of event they are producing, event planners typically build their event budgets in spreadsheets with two important columns: projected costs and actual costs. Make sure to keep it updated at all times. Ideally, you should set aside a contingency fund. Events are unpredictable as it is; hybrid events are even more so.
These are the main hybrid event budget items you should budget for:
As we’ve explained in our 2022 Event Trends Guide, in-person venues can be smaller and more local. Rather than booking an impersonal hotel ballroom, book a non-traditional venue.
However, don’t commit to a venue without understanding your internet costs and COVID compliance measures. Include them in your proposal. Make sure you have the flexibility to bring in any production provider you want and the ability to remove in-house AV restrictions.
Budget-friendly tip: Try to make your in-person event as simple as possible, but nonetheless charming. When hosting in a smaller venue, you can also save money on event staff. And last but not least, book it early.
2. F&B / Catering
The pandemic has made many event planners realize and question the way we used to handle F&B. Buffets are outright unacceptable at COVID-compliant events, and there are many other ways to handle feeding your attendees, from meal boxes to sending your audience offsite to eat.
Budget-friendly tip: You can save a lot by axing traditional catering altogether and letting your attendees go for lunch off the site. That way, they will experience the local flavor and have a truly exciting experience.
3. Event Platform & Other Event Technology
A big portion of hybrid event budgets is dedicated to event platforms as they are, in a sense, our virtual venues. There are many event platforms on the market and their pricing can range from $2,000 to several $100,000s. Choose a platform that can cover both in-person and virtual events, and covers all must-haves for your particular event – be it registration, gamification, streaming player, CE tracking, etc.
4. AV & Production
The higher the quality of production at hybrid events, the more your virtual audience will be engaged. To ensure they do not feel like second-class citizens, we recommend using three cameras and investing heavily in the quality of your live stream. Hybrid events should look like studio talk shows to the virtual audience. If you intend to use video content for marketing purposes, set aside a post-production budget.
Budget-friendly tip: Consolidate your content to as few rooms as possible to reduce production and room costs.
5. Event Staff
Hybrid events require more event staff than in-person events. There needs to be a team that works on the virtual part of the event and an in-person event team. However, the two teams must never lose sight of the fact that they are putting on one, unified event and not get caught in a silo. If you are producing a global hybrid event, you will need an extra budget for an additional workforce and paying them overtime.
For a great hybrid event, consider adding:
- An on-site video editing team who can make content on the fly for the live stream,
- A video studio setup on-site for creating additional live stream content between sessions,
- An intercom that connects the in-person AV and production teams with the virtual planning teams,
- On-site team member to represent the virtual attendees if they are getting ignored (someone who can remind speakers to look at the camera, and that there is audience chat you want them to acknowledge),
- A team to monitor all of the virtual aspects and engage the virtual audience,
- Live streaming setups in all of the content rooms, not just general sessions,
- Cybersecurity staff,
- Social media staff who handles user-generated content and engages the audience via social media.
Budget-friendly tip: Hybrid event staffing does not always require a bigger budget. If your in-person event is small enough, you can save a lot of money by having fewer hands on deck.
6. Event Marketing
The size of your event marketing budget will depend on how big the event is and how much brand recognition you strive for. Email marketing is still the most effective, but you can also dedicate a portion of your budget to paid adds, social media advertising, and other marketing channels.
One of the biggest trends in the events industry is building an event community and doing community marketing. You can promote your hybrid event within your community for free. You can also poll your audience to understand what they care about and focus your budget on what truly matters.
Budget-friendly tip: You can host your community on the very same platform you use for your hybrid and virtual events.
7. Speakers & Emcees
As with all types of events, speakers and emcees can cost as little as $500 or as much as $100,000 if you book a celebrity. Keep in mind that hybrid events often require two emcees: one for virtual content and one for in-person.
Budget-friendly tip: When it comes to hybrid event content, less is more. Do not book more speakers than you absolutely need to give attendees quality. Give attendees more white space within your event to mingle and network instead – and save some money.
Putting together a strong hybrid event budget is no easy feat. Hybrid events are complex and require a lot of bandwidth. Consider hiring an event management company that will help you throughout the entire event planning process, from ideation to execution.
Endless Events is an experienced event management company with experience in producing various types of hybrid events. Reach out and talk to us if you are looking for a trusted partner in your event marketing efforts. Our team is here to help.