You were probably already aware of hybrid events pre-COVID. Heck—maybe you’re even a hybrid veteran. Still, pre-2021 hybrid events and the types of hybrid strategies we’re deploying today just aren’t the same. Think of it like your hair after a break-up; sure, it’s still the same hair, but now you have bangs and things have gotten a little bit more difficult to manage (PSA: Don’t cut bangs. Just don’t. You’ll thank us later.)
We know by now most of us are tired of hearing the word hybrid thrown around (the new Voldemort of the events industry.) However, for better or for worse, hybrid events aren’t going away any time soon—it’s time to sink into a new, tight-knit relationship with the word. Hybrid. Hybrid. Hybrid.
So, if you’re looking for some tips and tricks surrounding hybrid events, make sure to take all those pre-COVID articles with a grain of salt; or just do yourself a favor and stick to the newer stuff.
Pssst! Download our hybrid guide ‘The Hybrid Myth’ to hear our controversial take on why hybrid events don’t really exist.
Ok, ok. I know you’re not here for our mediocre jokes and subpar beauty advice. So, let’s get right to it.
Don’t plan your hybrid event as an in-person event with a virtual component
This is our #1 don’t. Hybrid events used to be planned like live events with a little virtual glitter sprinkled on top, but that just ain’t gonna fly amid a global pandemic. Today’s hybrid events should be well-oiled, virtual experiences first; then you can go ahead and plan the live component as a secondary add-on (with permission from the pandemic, of course.)
The good news is your virtual event game is probably top-notch by now, but, if your stomach is starting to sink just reading this, no worries—we know just the virtual event platform that can make that topsy turvy feeling go away.
Don’t create content for your in-person event hoping it translates the same to your virtual audience
Let’s face it: Pre-covid, hybrid events were all about the in-person event. Well, it’s time to flip that narrative.
Repeat after me: All of your hybrid content should be focused and planned around your virtual event.
Because your virtual component should be able to live on its own, it’s important that you beef up your event hub with plenty of opportunities to keep the conversation going. Consider using virtual engagement tools like chat, polling, Q&A to keep attendees engaged.
Don’t sell in-person only tickets
With travel restrictions fluctuating more than a pre-teen’s mood, we don’t recommend selling in-person-only tickets to your hybrid event. With things like city restrictions, venue control, and changing health considerations up in the air—ultimately there is just too much risk involved.
Instead, we recommend that you sell both a virtual ticket and a hybrid ticket, separately. There’s no sense in barring in-person attendees from attending the virtual stuff, and if you do have to go fully virtual then you won’t have to give them new access or change their attendee type in the back end. The hybrid ticket will allow for the attendee to attend the event in person if all goes as planned. But if not, hey, at least they’ll be able to kick back, relax and attend virtually (without you having to do the dirty work of manually changing the reg type/virtual experience).
Don’t make all of your content the same regardless of the event type
Giving every session the same look and feel is just plain boring. Switching things up can make attendees more attentive, help with engagement, and may even help to boost data collection. Mix in some simulive sessions to reduce the overall risk of snoring.
What’s simulive? Simulive sessions are pre-recorded sessions, allowing the speaker to enter the chat and answer questions live while the recording is playing. We think that simulive sessions are a great option for both virtual and live attendees—and can actually increase engagement since the speaker answers questions as the session plays.
Don’t try to create the same experience across two event types
WE ARE TYPING IN CAPS BECAUSE THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT. Are you listening?
What may work for virtual events doesn’t always work for in-person events or vice versa. It’s okay to have different content for different audiences. Virtual attendees don’t want to awkwardly sit there and watch a live-streamed networking session. Instead, offer a virtual networking session, real-time Q and A with industry experts, or maybe even a panel discussion.
Your hybrid event should not encourage cross-audience networking or engagement during the event, though the full audience is brought together online pre and post-event. By dismissing the notions that you need to run two events at once, merge two very different audiences on the event day, or create content bridges to address both sets of attendees, you boil a hybrid strategy down to two event types you already have experience in creating: in-person and on-demand virtual.
Don’t piece together an in-person and virtual software
Pre-covid, you may have skated by using a mediocre virtual streaming tool for your events, that was ‘just good enough’. Gone are the days of slapping a Zoom link into your event schedule and calling it a hybrid event. Now, with virtual being the star component of your hybrid event, it’s more important than ever to find suitable software that can handle both.
Don’t accept long cancellation contracts
Au revoir to old cancellation clauses. Canceling live events six months in advance just isn’t feasible during a worldwide pandemic. Unfortunately, your event could risk cancellation just weeks or days before, so you’ll want to make sure you take all the extra precautions so that you don’t lose all your money. We recommend that you negotiate the cancelation timeline before signing any contract.
Before you come at us with torches & pitchforks—hear us out. Hybrid is here to stay, so it’s about time we make it a little easier on ourselves.