As the world gradually returns to in-person events, event planners are now asking - is there still a place for hybrid and virtual events? The short answer, yes.
So, what is the value of creating an event that is both in-person and virtual? We have all experienced the benefits of in-person events: meeting face-to-face in the same space has its advantages for attendees, exhibitors, and staff. Hybrid delivers those same advantages plus adding expanded access, with the potential to improve diversity, equity, and inclusivity as well as optionality.
Here are 4 reasons why hosting a hybrid event can make your experience more inclusive and engaging and some tips to help get you started.
1. Provide Flexibility For Your Event Attendees
Not everyone can get away from work or family obligations to attend an event in person—especially if the event is on the other side of the world. This used to mean that access was limited to a subset of your prospective audience. Now, the hybrid experience is well aligned with how people work, connecting virtually and flexing their schedules.
With hybrid events, more members of your audience can participate meaningfully in your event and to feel more a part of your community.
Tip: Design a Personalized Experience
With a hybrid event, you have access to more attendee data than you would at just an in-person event. Use this data to personalize the experience and design an event that is exactly what your attendees want.
First, create a persona for each segment of your attendees; then, perform a journey-mapping exercise for each persona to pinpoint touchpoints, feeling, and actions throughout your event to identify opportunities for attendee interaction. This can help you understand where your gaps are, visualize your schedule, and ensure a lasting impression for your audience.
By taking these steps, you can give the members of your audience what they value. You can create an inclusive environment where they feel heard and get more out of the experience.
2. Cater to Both Event Audience Segments
There may be members of your audience who are interested in your content, but don’t enjoy a direct-contact experience. Some people are introverts, others are just more comfortable participating from behind their screens, and some are simply concerned about joining large gatherings.
Offering a virtual experience with the option to choose how to attend, fosters inclusivity, community, and comfort for those who are inclined to connect more selectively.
Tip: Provide Inclusive Registration Options
Your strategy, and your platform, should support registration options that enable flexibility and inclusivity, e.g., on-site only, virtual-only, or hybrid access.
Components/access to consider for each registration type include:
- Sessions (in-person attendance and streaming)
- Select or exclusive conference programming
- The virtual event environment
- Matchmaking features
- Networking spaces
- 1:1 video chat
3. The Value of Evergreen Content
By incorporating a virtual experience, you can involve and engage your audience as early as you choose. Gather their input on content, provide buzz-generating activities on your event website, and even offer them content to absorb in advance of the sessions so that they can use meeting time more efficiently and effectively.
By enabling in-person participants to review session materials in advance, you can create an environment that fosters an even better experience, with more time to achieve their goals, like networking, whiteboarding and problem-solving in sessions rather than listening to lectures.
Then, you can keep the conversation (and sense of community) going afterwards by repurposing or creating new content and posting it to the site.
Tip: The Event Before The Event
Remember that the event can begin whenever you choose. Use the run-up time and your virtual event platform to build buzz, community, and registrations.
Share micro-events like webinars and short talks. Conduct speaker interviews. Create scheduled networking opportunities. Distribute surveys and polls. Encourage game participation. Share new agenda details.
4. Valuable Data and Insights
With evolving technology, event professionals have gone from counting heads in meeting rooms, to sending out surveys and check-ins on apps, to gathering data and insights regarding participant behavior, perceived value, and measures of success.
By expanding inclusivity and supporting a more strategic event design, a hybrid event offers the potential to gather more data by an order of magnitude. You will know more about where participants spent their time, what content was most valued, what features of the experience were most engaging, which participants were your most powerful influencers, and so much more.
Tip: Use This Data to Drive Demand and Accelerate Your Sales Pipeline
With access to data and analytics that you wouldn’t collect solely from in-person events, use this data to better understand your attendees wants and needs.
Monitor the chat, poll answers and Q&A to see what they are discussing. Pass this information along to sales for a better and more tailored conversation that is more likely to convert to a sale.
Use Hybrid Events to Achieve More
By including both in-person and virtual components to your event and strategically applying the capabilities of your virtual events platform, you can achieve more through your hybrid event.
If this is your first hybrid event, we recommend contacting your platform pros for help in turning your vision, strategy, and objectives into a plan. A hybrid event platform offers many options that it helps to have an experienced driver the first few times.
Hybrid allows you to create a world-class event that is flexible, immersive, and engaging in ways that satisfy the expectations and business needs of your organization.
The Notified Event Cloud can help you deliver these personalized and inclusive events that build community and keeps your audience engaged. Reach out today to schedule a demo for your next event - whether virtual, hybrid, or in-person.