What is a hybrid event and why are they the future of event marketing?

Hybrid event

During the height of the pandemic, in-person events shifted to virtual meetings. But now, the event landscape is changing again to hybrid events. 

A hybrid event is designed to blend the virtual experience with an in-person experience. It gives event planners a way to increase engagement and expand the event’s reach through networking opportunities, Q&A sessions, on-demand content, and more. In turn, that increase in reach also boosts the value of the event to both the company hosting it and the sponsors.  

Hybrid events will continue to play a huge role in the enterprise event industry going forward, and your company can’t afford to miss out on the opportunities they’ll present.

What is a hybrid event?

A hybrid event combines in-person sessions and virtual sessions but takes the virtual session to a new, interactive level to help increase engagement through: 

  • Networking opportunities
  • Asking questions during the event
  • Conducting live polls
  • Using a mobile app

These types of interactivity help remote attendees feel like they’re a part of the sessions, even though they can’t be there in person. With the right virtual event software, you can turn conferences, trade shows, company-wide events, sales events, and product launches into successful hybrid experiences. 

Why should enterprise companies host a hybrid event?

Hybrid events are the future — especially for enterprise companies. While hosting in-person conferences and putting out webinars will still be useful, there are several perks unique to the hybrid event format, such as:

  • Increasing your revenue by opening the event up to more people
  • Providing extra virtual event space if your physical venue is at capacity
  • Enabling participants with no travel budget to still attend the event remotely
  • Ensuring people with health issues that prevent them from traveling can follow the event
  • Giving attendees who need a more inclusive event an option that considers any disabilities or life circumstances
  • Offering more engaging options besides a live stream, which helps in battling Zoom fatigue

The benefits of hybrid events will increase attendance while also generating revenue and helping the environment. 

Hybrid event

Benefit #1: Reduces budget and increases revenue

A hybrid conference can reduce your overall costs while also increasing your revenue from the event. One of the biggest expenses associated with in-person events is the venue. With a hybrid meeting, you can limit in-person attendees to a certain number, and the event organizers can book a smaller venue and host virtual attendees, too.

When you have fewer people attending in person, you can also cut other costs, like catering or printing out fewer paper agendas. You might also be able to track down partners for the virtual event that can help cut costs, like a company that can help with live streaming, or offer reduced rates for virtual sponsorship opportunities. Reduced rates mean you might be able to recruit more sponsors than a live event would. 

And when you use the right type of platform for the virtual part of your event, you can collect metrics about your virtual audience and use them to make more informed, financially-sound decisions about any future events. For example, the audience might engage more with a certain type of event, or you could get data from a live poll. You might even consider offering insights about that post-event data to your sponsors as an incentive to sponsor.

Benefit #2: Increases event engagement and reach

Potential event attendees may come only because you’re offering an at-home option. With a virtual component, you’re able to reach a wider audience — and boost that audience engagement with other options besides just live streaming the sessions. Using a hybrid event platform with the right capabilities can open the door to options like interactive Q&A sessions, breakout rooms for small group discussions, and ways to share important conference updates. 

Some event platforms also offer a social media-like functionality, where participants can interact and match up with each other based on their interests.

Plus, after the event, you can share the content you’ve recorded for even more reach and get people who couldn’t attend at the time to engage with on-demand content.

Benefit #3: Reduces your carbon footprint

Several large companies are committed to reducing their carbon footprint, including Walmart, IKEA, and PepsiCo. Hosting a hybrid event can contribute to that. With fewer people going to your event, you can reduce the overall impact that your conference has on the environment. MeetGreen, a sustainable event agency, found that the typical conference attendee produced 1.89 kilograms of trash per day. 

So, taking that into account: an event with 1,000 people would produce 5,670 kilograms of trash—that’s about the same weight as four compact cars. When people attend the virtual portion of your hybrid event, that reduces the amount of trash that ends up in landfills and other spots. It also means there’s less swag given out to in-person attendees that will inevitably end up adding to that waste. 

You’ll also be reducing the amount of air pollution related to your event since your virtual participants won’t be flying or driving to the event. 

Benefit #4: Promotes inclusivity and flexibility for event attendees

For a myriad of reasons, people may not be able to attend an in-person event. When you host a hybrid event, you give those people a chance to go and also show them that your organization is inclusive. 

The virtual part of your event offers many opportunities to provide a more accessible experience while you‘re planning the event and during all sessions, from keynotes to small groups. You’re able to include closed captioning for sessions, add alt text to your event pages, and provide voiceovers when needed. If an event doesn’t follow recommended ADA compliance, then attendees could leave feeling like their needs weren’t met. 

A hybrid event could also reduce the strain on your online audience’s mental and physical health. Traveling is stressful for many, especially now when some people are still at high risk of contracting COVID-19. Those people would likely welcome the chance to attend your event virtually so that they can still enjoy the sessions but protect their health at the same time. 

By offering a virtual component, you can also provide flexibility to those who need it, no matter what their life situation. A working parent might not be able to travel to a multi-day event but could attend virtually. Or, an international attendee might encounter a visa issue and be unable to physically attend. 

What is a hybrid event

How to overcome the challenges of hybrid events

Hybrid events have many pros, but there are some challenges to think about when you’re planning the overall event experience:

  • Make sure the virtual portion of the event goes hand in hand with the in-person aspect. To do this, you’ll need to find a platform that will help you integrate the virtual portion with the in-person audience. The right platform will provide the capability you need to make your virtual events more interactive and inclusive.
  • Ensure that your pricing for the event is not too high for virtual attendees. A barrier to attending on-site may be finances, and a virtual option should have a less expensive registration fee. 
  • Sponsors and exhibitors may have reservations about a hybrid event vs. a physical event, as they might feel like they are losing out on interacting with virtual attendees who can’t come to the exhibition hall in real time. Instead, offer them a way to make those connections via your event platform. 

Plan your next successful hybrid event with SpotMe

Make your hybrid event as seamless as possible with the functionality provided by SpotMe’s virtual event platform. When you host an event with SpotMe, you’re able to create an interactive event that blends your virtual elements with the face-to-face portion of your conference or corporate event. If you’re ready to take your hybrid events to the next level and increase engagement with your attendees, contact us today to set up a demonstration.

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