So you’re thinking about planning a hybrid event, huh? Well, we commend you! Because now that things slowly begin to open back up and small gatherings of people are allowed, they will become the norm. Just like a few months ago, virtual events were the next big trend. But the thing about hybrid events is that they’re a tad complex. Because now you’ll have to consider both the in-person experience and the remote experience. You’ll have to plan for the venue and the platform, and elements such as entertainment, production, and networking will have to be thought out from two different perspectives.
Okay, that makes it seem like a daunting task. But fear not! If there’s one thing event professionals have proved recently, is that they’re flexible and ingenious through and through. And this means that planning a hybrid event is more of an exciting and well-welcomed challenge than an annoying assignment you have to get through. In order to help you out, this article will cover the basics you have to rethink with a hybrid experience in mind. So let’s get to it!
Why Exactly Are You Doing This?
Through thick and thin, we’ve always preached the philosophy of thinking “why am I doing this?”. Because regardless of what kind of event you’re planning, the goals of the experience should be prioritized. And if your answer to this question within the scope of hybrid events is “because everyone else is doing it”, then you need to take a step back.
Doing something just for the sake of jumping on a random bandwagon seldom works as a solid foundation for anything. So slow down and take time to consider what kind of experience you’re trying to create. Who will be the attendees? Should you be looking at a basic live streaming solution or a more intricate one? What would be the time frame that better works for everyone involved?
Take the time to outline the needs of your event and how aspects like production fit into the bigger picture. Not all hybrid events are made the same. Deciding how the house will be built begins with considering the design of all the parts that will go into it first, and only then getting the tools necessary to start construction.
The Juicy Bits: Virtual & In-Person
Arguably the most overwhelming part of planning a hybrid event is the fact that you have to plan for two audiences. But we cannot stress enough the importance of giving both audiences the same amount of love. Back when virtual events weren’t nearly as hot as they are today, learning how to keep them engaged was a big issue.
But now that planners had time to learn the ins and outs of virtual audience engagement, there’s no excuse to fall short. Keep in mind that even though you’ll have an in-person component, remote attendees will still make up a big chunk of your audience.
So, how can you tackle this? Well, there are many ways to make sure both of your audiences feel included in the experience. And while there are several aspects that depend on the design of your specific event, the mindset is universal.
The Hybrid Mindset
Consider which unique perks you’ll offer to each of your audiences. There’s obviously something of value you’re offering, which is why people want to attend in the first place. But while the in-person audience gets the benefit of networking face to face, enjoying the entertainment live, catering, coffee breaks, and more, the virtual audience doesn’t. So taking the time to offer this segment of attendees something just for them that shows they’re not afterthought is paramount.
And this can take many forms, from food delivered directly to their houses to digital goodie bags and one-on-one interactions with speakers. Lack of options obviously isn’t an issue, and you can adjust them according to the goal of your event, by aligning with the sponsors, and, of course, depending on budget – more on this later.
Another crucial aspect is production. Whatever brilliant idea you have for the physical space in regards to speakers and entertainment, don’t make any rash decisions. Because this time around, you have to consider how it will translate on camera. Sure, a dark room with a cool light show would be jaw-dropping for the in-person audience. For the virtual one? Not quite. The same goes for sound quality, visuals, and so on.
The key here is to think like a television producer. Play with multiple angles, move them around, avoid dead spaces. Broadcasting quality should be a priority in order to deliver the best possible experience.
Let’s Talk Numbers
By now, you probably already realized that hybrid experiences will be more costly than their virtual and in-person counterparts. Sure, they don’t have to be. If your idea of planning a hybrid event consists of renting out the venue for a small group of people and live stream it on Facebook through an iPhone 6, it will definitely be cheap!
It just won’t be successful. While the restrictions on how many people can gather mean you are now able to consider smaller and less costly venues, there are other things to consider. Due to the current state of events, sanitation measures will have to be put in place, and that has an associated cost. And so does the production that will go into creating a memorable and sensational experience where everyone involved feels included.
So, it’s time to reconsider many of the things we knew about budgeting. Planning a hybrid event will require extra effort where production is required, particularly if you want to build an immersive storytelling experience!
Don’t Forget Everything You Learned About Virtual
A few months ago, planners had to put everything they knew about in-person events on hold. The new paradigm demanded they got educated on everything related too virtual. The industry witnessed a mass pivoting of astronomic proportions that came to prove just how flexible and ingenious event professionals are.
But with a new shift on the horizon, the temptation to let go of all this new-found knowledge arises. However, this where you must keep in mind that hybrid isn’t the return of in-person, but rather its unification with virtual. Everything you’ve been preached about remote is still valid. You’ll still need to know how to keep virtual audiences engaged, how to work with sponsors, how to educate your speakers, and more.
So don’t let go of everything you learned. The state of the world is still uncertain, and there are no reassurances about anything. Hybrid and virtual are here to stay for the time being, and the aspects pertaining to the success of the latter are paramount for the triumph of the former.
Planning A Hybrid Event: Final Thoughts
Today we touched upon some of the most important things to consider when planning a hybrid event. Don’t worry, this isn’t all there is to it! Over the next few weeks, we’ll be hard at work in creating content that will help you better understand how everything works. And if there are any particular questions you’d like to have answered, let us know.
The Endless team has planned enough in-person, hybrid, and virtual events to hold your hand through the process. From a production standpoint, you couldn’t ask for better allies! So stay tuned for more exciting news and educational juice about planning a hybrid event. And if you’re ready to take the leap, go ahead and shoot us a message!