With the world heading back to some sense of normalcy, many companies are anxious to include in-person components to their virtual events again, and vice versa, to create a hybrid event experience.
Most events have had to pivot toward a virtual-only model since last March, and despite the unexpected change of plans, many experienced great success.
As companies begin to return to in-person events, they’ll want to blend the best qualities of traditional events with virtual event platforms to create larger, more successful hybrid events moving forward.
Thus, hybrid experiences will become vastly more common and popular, as event organizers and attendees have first-hand experience with the benefits of attending a virtual and traditional event.
Read on to learn more about hybrid events, examples to get you inspired, and tips to help you transition from virtual to hybrid.
Hybrid Events: What Are They?
A hybrid event is a blend of the traditional in-person event with the online virtual event.
Depending on the hybrid event, there may be a physical event with bonus online access, a primarily online event with limited in-person aspects, or an even blend of both.
Consider these hybrid event examples, both with different focuses, but still blended experiences:
- A large trade show that’s principally an in-person event with exclusive online content and an event app
- A live-streamed product reveal presented in front of a limited physical audience broadcasted to millions of people, also with an event app.
Exploring opportunities for your company to host hybrid events? Check out our Guide to Hybrid Events to learn how you can make them an essential part of your 2021 plan.
Why Hybrid Events Matter
Hybrid events offer a cost-effective way to increase event participation to a larger audience. Anybody with an internet connection and a computer, smartphone, or tablet can attend. Physical distance is no longer a barrier.
Marketers can stretch their budgets and reach to invite thousands of people to their hybrid events to participate virtually. This improves the event’s ROI and means there’s less money spent on accommodations, dining, etc.
However, a hybrid event’s most significant contribution to physical events is its data collection.
Virtually every user interaction can be tracked, stored, and analyzed to glean insights that benefit the event’s main objectives and goals — whether it’s generating leads, improving a product, making an impression, or refining the marketing approach.
Looking for more ways to track the effectiveness of your virtual and hybrid events? Check out 12 Event Metrics to Measure your Success.
5 Tips to Successfully Transition Your Events from Virtual to Hybrid in 2021
For companies that have pivoted toward hosting virtual-only events, they will want to start considering ways to incorporate both in-person and online components into their events moving forward.
Tip #1) Pick the Right Hybrid Event Platform
Finding a way to connect your two different audiences — those attending remotely and in-person — will require some digging to find the right platform. It’s important to find a vendor who can incorporate a mobile app with their desktop app to bridge the gap between these groups.
Also, find a platform that can create personalized agendas for all attendees. This will help people on-site plan their trips, and people at home choose which speakers to watch.
Ready to explore what the best hybrid event platforms have to offer? Check out the 7 Best Hybrid Event Platforms for 2021.
Tip #2) Select a Hybrid Event Production Partner
If your in-person component needs a bit more pizazz or organization, consider working with an outside event production partner.
Tip #3) Offer On-Demand Content for Increased Activation of all Audiences
One of the downsides of attending a physical event, particularly conventions, concerts, or trade shows, is that you can’t watch every presentation you want to see if they overlap.
Luckily, a hybrid seminar or event can record and upload all sessions and speakers online as on-demand content, allowing audiences to view missed content later.
Both audiences now have the option to pick and choose which videos to watch, or content to download, which creates a deeper level of engagement and enrichment out of your event.
Tip #4) Create Audience Tiers
You should consider creating a “freemium” event, one where the basic content is available for free, but also offer a paid, premium tier that allows for more access to exclusive content, such as private breakout sessions, chats, features, and interactivity options.
By offering multiple audience tiers — free and premium— you can increase your event’s attendance by more than double.
When you increase your attendance, you can leverage that to command bigger sponsor packages moving forward.
Tip #5) Provide Networking Opportunities to Connect Remote and In-Person Audiences
Use a mobile event app and gamification to your advantage to encourage those visiting in-person to engage with those who are remote, and vice versa. Offer fun prizes and make a challenge out of encouraging both audiences to reach out to each other.
You can also poll both audiences simultaneously so their responses are combined, creating more unity within the entire group, or create breakout sessions on-site and virtually that can combine both groups together.
7 Hybrid Event Examples That Knock it Out of the Park
Looking for inspiration to help you turn your virtual event into a hybrid event? Take a look at our list of seven hybrid event examples that excelled at combining interesting and interactive virtual and in-person components.
#1) Empower 21
With many states restricting in-person events due to COVID-19, large-scale in-person events have been less common in 2021. Empower 21, a Christian conference that took place in Texas in February, is one of the first major hybrid events that took place this year.
Attendees could attend in-person or online with the same access to the event platform and agendas, speaker information, and interact with each other.
For those visiting, safety protocols such as wearing a mask and social distancing were practiced, proving how companies can begin putting on safe in-person events again.
#2) Apple Special Events
Apple, unsurprisingly, has been at the forefront of hybrid events by broadcasting its live in-person product demos to millions of people online with expansive reach.
With a recent shift to Apple’s latest special events being entirely virtual or pre-recorded, it has kept the audience’s attention from any location by presenting dynamic speaker’s with short speeches from their own unique destinations.
Apple will return to hybrid events as soon as California eases venue restrictions, as presenting in front of an in-person audience adds unique buzz and excitement.
It would make sense for Twitch, the online live streaming community, to put on only virtual events. But even they see the value in putting on a good show for people in-person and online.
Every year, TwitchCon is hosted in San Diego and features live musical acts on stage. Unlike other events that use an outside platform to live stream their content, Twitch streamed its content through its native platform. This allowed its online users to share a social experience with those in physical attendance.
Unfortunately, last year’s TwitchCon was canceled, but many fans anxiously await an announcement for this year’s event, expected to be in September, which many think will be hybrid once again.
#4) INBOUND by Hubspot
INBOUND is a three-day conference put on by HubSpot that occurs in August every year.
Business professionals, as well as comedians and entertainers, are invited to present to a large crowd of professionals interested in learning marketing and best practices to improve their business.
The best part is that all the sessions are recorded and shared online for attendees to watch on-demand. This is particularly helpful for business owners who want to share important information with their teams after attending the event.
INBOUND 2021 will be a fully virtual event, but it’s highly likely that their 2022 event will resume its hybrid status.
#5) Social Media Marketing World
Social Media Marketing World is a conference filled with leading influencers who offer practical, fun, and high-quality sessions to inspire social media managers on the year’s leading platforms.
While it’s primarily an in-person event that happens in San Diego, it also offers a virtual component to allow people at-home access to the same high-quality sessions and networking abilities, making it an effective hybrid event.
Social Media Marketing World follows a four-leveled audience tier to attract more visitors. At the base level, they have virtual, with just access to recordings, all the way to all-access, with access to all keynotes, sessions, recordings, and more.
Social Media Marketing World’s 2021 conference was postponed but has been rescheduled to March 14-16, 2022 at the San Diego Convention Center.
LiveWorx, put on by technology company PTC, is one of the leading conferences for digital innovators and enterprises put on every year.
Leading keynote speakers discuss the internet of things, augmented reality, CAD, and implementing business practices to help enterprises shape the future.
LiveWorx archives its past sessions so past members can log in to watch a highlights video and access the archived keynotes library.
While their event is usually held in Boston in June, last year’s event pivoted at the last minute to be a virtual event.
LiveWorx 2021 will continue its virtual format, sharing on-demand content after it has aired, and keeping sessions more concise to combat Zoom fatigue.
MozCon, the world’s leading SEO conference, has typically been a hybrid event, allowing people at home a discounted ticket rate to watch the recorded version of the event after it has wrapped up.
MozCon takes advantage of its pre-recorded content to attract visitors to their website through SEO content marketing, allowing visitors to watch their content for free, while advertising their next event.
Moz understands the SEO advantage of repurposing old event footage into promotional material to market their next event. This is a useful tactic for recycling old footage into new keyword-rich content.
While last year’s MozCon was entirely virtual, MozCon 2022 has been planned to take place at the Washington State Convention Center July 11-13th, and offer both virtual and in-person elements for its audience.
Transform Your Event Into an Unforgettable Hybrid Experience
SpotMe is the ultimate digital experience platform, capable of hosting dynamic and engaging virtual and hybrid events for your company.
Whether your audience is in person, or online, both have access to an interactivity-rich platform to network with each other, attend breakout sessions, watch on-demand content, or view HD live streams.
Give SpotMe a test drive! Request a free demo to get started today.
Check out the Top 10 Event Trends You Need to Know for 2021 to make sure your events (hybrid or otherwise) are effective moving forward.
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