Hybrid events are continuing their march to become the new standard in the events industry. Let’s face it: in-person events are not going anywhere – we all love to meet and conduct business face-to-face! At the same time, virtual events hold so much potential to reach global audiences on a frequent basis. Hybrid events deliver on both sides, so let’s take advantage of that.
Understandably, many event planners continue to feel hesitant about this particular event trend. There are now two sets of audiences to consider, each with its own engagement requirements. And then, there are sponsors and exhibitors: how can hybrid provide value to them? And aside from choosing a unique venue, planners now also have to choose the right event platform for their particular event. It’s quite a lot, but the good news is that it’s doable!
What can help event planners inspire their process is to see what some of the best hybrid events look like. So today, we bring you 5 versatile hybrid event examples. We hope that each and every one of these conferences will help inspire planners better understand what they can do to cook up a successful hybrid experience. So get your pen and paper and start taking notes!
Before Hybrid Was Cool: TwitchCon 2019
It should come as no surprise that one of the most famous live streaming services in the world, Twitch, put on a jaw-dropping hybrid event back when most event planners didn’t even consider it a possibility. TwitchCon is a self-proclaimed “IRL party”, attracting gamers and live streamers to an in-person event in San Diego or live streamed virtual experience. In 2019, the crowd of 28,000 in-person attendees and many online guests enjoyed performances by Blink 182, Y2K, and other artists as well as countless panels and other sessions.
But it’s not just the outstanding production and content that makes TwitchCon such a successful hybrid event example, there’s also the fact that Twitch users know their way around live streaming better than most. Organizers encouraged online attendees to co-stream the event. What a great way to boost virtual audience engagement!
While the event was canceled in 2020 and 2021, it’s coming back to San Diego in 2022. We’re looking forward to seeing how they’ll take the hybrid experience to yet another level.
Looking for a great hybrid event example among trade shows and conventions? Then you might want to take some notes from IHRSA! IHRSA, The Global Health & Fitness Association, planned an event last year for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The 40th IHRSA 2021 took place in Dallas from 13th to 15th October 2021. It attracted almost 4,000 in-person attendees and 220 exhibitors.
Liz Clark, IHRSA’s CEO, proudly announced their decision to offer virtual sessions due to travel restrictions and safety. “We are excited to reinforce IHRSA 2021 by offering a hybrid option this October. For anybody not able to travel, IHRSA will offer both an in-person and virtual program so that our global community of members can connect for three days of knowledge-sharing, education, and intensive networking,” she said in a press release in September 2021.
IHRSA took full advantage of the perks associated with hybrid events, such as offering translation and captioning. Some sessions were translated into five languages: Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, and Chinese.
And last but not least, IHRSA 2021 was a textbook example of a COVID-compliant event. Like many other big events in 2021, they required proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. Additionally, it offered on-site testing and promoted wearing masks.
Apple Special Events
Apple has been at the forefront of innovation and tech trends for years. So it’s no wonder that some of their most anticipated events would somehow push the boundaries of what a conference is supposed to look like. Apple Special Events are an extraordinary time of the year that tech enthusiasts, Apple fans, and competitors alike look forward to. This is when the CEO of the company takes the stage in order to showcase the latest products from the brand. And when you’re a trillion-dollar company, you bet there’s a lot of folks interested in experiencing your new releases first-hand.
It should then come as no surprise that Apple Special Events have been live-streamed to audiences all across the world pretty much since their inception. The goal here is to reach as many people as possible – which it achieves with flying colors! If you’re interested in replicating this particular hybrid event example, go for a hybrid event studio as it offers high production value and focuses predominantly on your global, virtual audience.
Asynchronous Hybrid Event Example: IBTM World 2021
The world of hybrid events is incredibly versatile. Not only are there several hybrid event models to choose from, but there’s also the question of planning a synchronous (simultaneous) or asynchronous hybrid event. Essentially, the latter means that the in-person and virtual components take place at two separate times. So, if you’re looking for an asynchronous hybrid event example, see how Barcelona-based IBTM World did it in December 2021.
More than 72,000 people attended the in-person event in the Catalonian capital and went to 30,000 pre-scheduled business meetings. The virtual event happened two weeks later. David Thompson, IBTM World Event Director, told XLIVE that the virtual program offered pre-event matchmaking, one-to-one video meetings between buyers and suppliers, and over 65 sessions from leading industry experts.
And what’s IBTM World’s secret to success? “Stakeholder communication from the outset and throughout implementation is key — IBTM World took a very structured approach to managing communication with stakeholders to ensure they were kept informed of plans throughout the process,” Thompson said.
PCMA EduCon 2021
And finally, the last hybrid event example is an event all event planners know: PCMA (the Professional Convention Management Association).
PCMA EduCon 2021 took place in Phoenix last July and wowed both in-person as well as virtual attendees. No wonder: PCMA has been at the forefront of producing awesome virtual content since the pandemic started. Their webinars are living proof that they’re well-versed in the digital realm. And even more importantly, they never forget that their mission is to serve their audience. If you’re curious to learn more about this event, check out Event Brew’s episode on PCMA EduCon 2021.
Since we’re talking about PCMA, we also need to give a special shoutout to PCMA’s Convening Leaders 2022 as they managed to pull off a great hybrid event in the midst of the Omicron crisis. 2,500 attendees came to Las Vegas, while 600 tuned in virtually. It goes without saying that they rigorously followed COVID-19 safety measures.
So, how did you like these hybrid event examples? Keep in mind that these are just a handful of ideas you can use and that the industry’s knowledge keeps expanding. The goal of your hybrid experience is to make it engaging, interesting, and captivating to everyone involved.
If there’s anything else you’d like to read about or have any examples of your own you want us to expand upon, let us know – the Endless Events team is here to help. Stay tuned for more awesome content about hybrid and virtual events!
Editor’s note: This blog post was originally published in August 2020 by Mariana Fernandes. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness by Anja Grcar.