By Nicole Olsen and the 6Connex Team
In this guest blog, MediaPlatform partner 6Connex explains the basics of hybrid in-person and virtual events.
Last year, COVID-19 completely revolutionized the events industry and disrupted many business practices across the globe. Organizations quickly halted large in-person gatherings and brought virtual events to the forefront of their planning strategies, leaning into robust hosting platforms, VR technologies, and more to keep attendees engaged and connected from afar.
In fact, the number of virtual events hosted on our platform increased by 1,000% between March and May of 2020.
After over a year of working from home, many people are ready to gather in-person again. However, many event planners are looking to capitalize on virtual event trends. Their prospective attendees seem to agree – as 66% of people attest that they will likely attend more conferences if given online options.
What’s the common ground? A scalable hybrid approach to event planning.
Hybrid events offer the best of both worlds post-pandemic. They enable organizations to reach wider audiences and give attendees a flexible, secure experience that’s even more engaging and interactive than traditional in-person gatherings of years past.
To help you implement a future-focused roadmap and deliver engaging experiences for your attendees, we’re unpacking everything you need to know about hybrid events and how to make them work in your organization. We’ll talk through:
- What ‘hybrid’ means in the event space
- How to create a next-level hybrid event strategy
- Critical metrics for measuring event success
- How to scale event planning with a virtual environment
What is a Hybrid Event?
As organizations and event managers prepare for upcoming network opportunities, conferences, and more, they’re leveraging the virtual technologies and trends that carried them through 2020 in a new way.
The term “hybrid event” has been around for years. Yet, the pandemic and post-pandemic action plans have brought this idea to the front and center of many event planning strategies.
So, what does a hybrid event look like in practice? Is it an event with…
- On-site speakers and a mix of virtual and in-person attendees?
- Speakers broadcasting to an entirely virtual audience?
- In-person attendees and virtual speakers?
- A collection of in-person hubs in various locations augmented by a mix of virtual and in-person speakers and audience?
At its core, a hybrid event doesn’t have to fit into just one of the options above. It’s simply the combination of a physical event and a virtual event, which means you can customize your hybrid model in ways that work for your organization and audience.
The Benefits of Hybrid Events
Hybrid events are more than a necessary alternative during the pandemic. They offer a range of benefits for your speakers, attendees, and staff that go beyond short-term safety measures and convenience. They revolutionize the way people connect to deliver:
- Safety – Offer attendees and speakers peace of mind with a socially distanced event.
- Innovation – Host corporate events in a brand new way with powerful features like immersive VR environments, real-time feedback, and more.
- Engagement – Share high-value information to a global audience and deliver lasting value with on-demand content.
- Flexibility – Maintain consistency in chaos with hybrid events that adjust to new business needs without compromising the event experience.
- Accessibility – Gain a wider audience and deliver inspiring events and sessions with a virtual environment attendees can access anywhere, anytime.
- Connectivity – Reach new prospects and keep attendees connected to your brand and one another with interactive breakouts, hybrid networking sessions, and more.
- Sustainability – Reduce your carbon footprint and make the most of your event budget with a sustainable alternative to in-person conferences and trade shows.
How to Drive Success Before, During, and After a Hybrid Event
As you adjust and refine your planning strategy, maintain focus on your business goals and KPIs for hybrid events. Consider metrics related to:
- Event registration
- Live event attendance
- On-demand attendance
- Attendee engagement levels
- Highest-performing content
- Attendee retention
- Sales conversions
Don’t forget to identify how you’ll measure each activity in and out of your event platform. Ideally, you’ll be able to track key metrics directly in your platform and create custom reports to share with stakeholders and event organizers.
Beyond complex data, you can learn a lot about your event’s success by gathering qualitative insights from attendees and contributors. Send out polls and surveys:
- Before an event to find out what participants are most excited to see at your event
- During an event to measure how content resonates with your audience in real-time
- After an event to see how attendees respond to content and overall platform experience
The data points and user responses around your audience, platform performance, and content trends are critical factors for future planning. These insights help you measure ROI per event and adjust your strategies to deliver a next-level attendee experience as you grow and expand your strategy.
Capitalizing on Virtual Trends with a Hybrid Event Environment
As we adjust to life post-pandemic, now is the perfect time to turn the lessons of 2020 into a hybrid event roadmap that will shape strategies in 2021 and beyond.
6Connex can help you build custom hybrid events powered by our robust virtual environments and enablement features designed for in-person and remote attendees alike.
How To Create a Scalable Hybrid Event Strategy
One successful hybrid event delivers value. However, the secret to long-term growth is an events strategy that leverages the same model on a continuous basis.
Why settle for an exceptional one-off event that your teams will spend months struggling to recreate? Build ongoing value for your business and attendees through an evergreen virtual environment, with year-round event access and hosting features that support multiple events in a single solution. A cloud-based conference environment can be reused and slightly modified to fit each event’s content, audience, and goals.
Powered by a flexible platform, hybrid events make it easy and painless to increase or decrease the number of virtual or in-person attendees as needed. You’ll be able to adapt settings and content to fit audience preferences, physical limitations, and global events.
Access our on-demand webinar All Things Hybrid to hear from industry experts on the state of hybrid events post-covid and our predictions on what the future holds for event planners across the globe.