It’s 2021, and finally, things have started to normalize a bit. But, we cannot overlook the fact that after such a huge impact left by the pandemic, some people are still hesitant in attending in-person events.
In such circumstances, adopting a hybrid approach for meetings and conferences is the best decision. This will allow the organizers to combine both in-person and virtual attendees using a single platform.
Unlike a completely virtual conference, that includes merely online attendees, hybrid conferences can not only include online attendees but the in-person audience too, who wish to meet and greet people in person. Adding both virtual and hybrid elements implies that you can increase your reach, promote your brand in front of a large group of people, and get qualified leads more conveniently.
Since hybrid events are currently evolving, there are several apprehensions about the same. Let’s walk you through some essential points that you can consider before hosting a hybrid conference:
Set Definite Goals
It is necessary to set definite goals at the beginning of the planning process. Right from finalizing the budget, choosing the virtual and physical venue, keeping your audiences engaged, including the right networking features to collecting the valuable feedback of the attendees. This will help you create a roadmap and guide you through the vital steps required in hosting successful and memorable hybrid conferences. Think of questions like; Can including a virtual element be marketed as a unique benefit? Will providing people an online “specimen” of the conference be likely to boost attendance for future events? Can a hybrid conference be converted into a fruitful affair?
Know Your Audience
Since it will be a hybrid approach, you need to give equal importance to both virtual and on-site attendees. People choose to go virtual or meeting people in person with certain expectations in their minds. Those who are happy with technology are expected to embrace virtual. But few businesses and sales professionals think face-to-face events are more important at conferences.
The Right Planning
Right from enrollments, budget, suitable virtual venue, to keep the attendees engaged throughout, each step needs the right planning to assure everything goes well.
Make sure that the virtual venue you choose can leverage the right technology to integrate both physical and virtual elements to host a successful virtual conference.
Consider verifying these below-mentioned points to make sure that you choose the right events platform:
- The ability to live-stream your event.
- At least one professional camera for each room, with great sound quality.
- Think of keeping more camera angles to create remarkable experiences for virtual attendees.
- An ideal hybrid event platform should provide interactive features for both virtual and in-person attendees to promote engagement throughout the event.
Great Networking Opportunities
This is a very important step to why one attends an event – be it physical, virtual, or hybrid. A hybrid conference that includes both physical and virtual components is expected to have increased participation and eventually better networking opportunities. Consider including features like virtual networking tables, business card exchange feature, or B2B meetings scheduler.
- Networking Zones: This feature facilitates both 1:1/group discussions through audio/chat/video features. This will also allow virtual attendees to gain on-site event experiences.
- B2B Meetings: With people attending the conferences virtually, it’s equally important that they do miss out on any opportunity to connect and build new connections. Hence, this feature lets you schedule meetings and meet even after the conference is over.
- Business Card Exchange: With people attending on-site events, it is very easy to connect and interact with other people present there. But, this feature lets people exchange business cards even if they are attending an event virtually.
Attendee Engagement for Both On-Site and Virtual Attendees
Regarding participant experience at hybrid conferences, our aim should be to deliver memorable experiences to each attendee, irrespective of their location. Some platforms will adopt the same app or event methods for both on-site and virtual guests but choose a hybrid event platform that considers your in-person and virtual attendees equally. Having a different portal for the virtual audience and a different mobile app for your on-site audience permits you to enhance the features of the hybrid event setup. One great example to keep the virtual attendees engaged is gamification, for example, spin the wheel, crosswords, word games, etc are some of the best choices.
Promote your Hybrid Conference
Once you have an idea of how to proceed with your hybrid conference, the next step includes promoting and marketing the event to potential attendees. The way you market a hybrid conference is quite similar to pure face-to-face conferences. Determine the date and timing of your hybrid conference carefully, as it plays an important role in bringing more attendees. Consider utilizing different channels such as social media, paid advertising, email marketing, or content marketing, to enhance the outreach of your hybrid conferences.
Perform a Follow-Up
Now, that you have hosted a hybrid conference, your duty is not over yet!
Make sure to devise a proper follow-up plan after the hybrid conference is over. This will help you gauge the success of your virtual conferences.
It is very important to collect relevant feedback from both on-site and virtual attendees to understand which things worked well and which did not gain much popularity. This will help you make significant changes for future events.
Hybrid conferences can generate several new opportunities to convey your agenda or build new connections. To obtain its advantages and make hybrid conferences a successful affair, proper planning and strategizing are a necessity. Understanding how to estimate ROI from any hybrid events is important. Whether the purpose is to develop prospect attendee awareness, increase revenue or give an additional member advantage, it is necessary to understand the goal and outcomes of the hybrid event.