In recent years, hybrid events have seen a surge in popularity.
The statistics show that over 25% of business and event managers will host between five and ten hybrid events per year, with an estimated 34% growth over the next few years.
Furthermore, over 63% of companies with between 2,000 and 5,000 employees have hybrid events in their portfolios.
Long story short, hybrid events are taking off. Businesses are hosting them, and people are going to them.
They’ve popped up everywhere, in all industries and markets, from small local gatherings, businesses from small to international, and then onwards to large global conferences.
There are many reasons for this popularity, just as there are plenty of reasons why you should want to think about how hybrid events can work for your business.
What are Hybrid Events?
A hybrid event is an event that blends the boundaries of the physical and digital world.
The most typical form of hybrid event is an in-person event that also incorporates virtual elements, giving attendees a choice to participate either way or even both!
This type of event has been made possible by recent advancements in technology that allows organizers to use a variety of digital platforms and tools in an event setting that amplifies engagement and can allow accessibility of the event from all over the world.
However, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing hybrid events are simple events or a customized variation of another event type.
For example, a hybrid event is not a physical, in-person event simply live streamed to the internet for people to tune into and watch.
It’s also not an in-person event with a virtual add-on, nor a live in-person event with on-demand content, as you would find at a convention or trade show.
A hybrid event is so much more than this, which is why they are becoming the future.
Importantly, these events are specifically designed in all aspects to drive audience engagement, regardless of how they’re attending.
The way a hybrid event is set up naturally drives action from the audience.
Of course, these events build on what traditional events offer. However, while they may include segments where the audience will sit and listen to a speaker, they can also access far more engaging activities.
For example, they may be able to move about and explore, participate in interactive sessions, or play games – all while being connected to others doing the same.
TwitchCon is a fantastic example of this.
How is TwitchCon a Hybrid Event?
Of course, being a high-profile live streaming platform, you wouldn’t be surprised if they focused on offering only virtual experiences since this is where their audience is based.
However, Twitch does a fantastic job of offering real-life events worldwide, mixing them with virtual experiences.
During the live events, held in Amsterdam and San Diego, fans and streamers come to engage with one another, host panels and meet-and-greets, enjoy live entertainment and events, and partake in tournaments.
Imagine being someone who watches Twitch most days as your form of entertainment, and you have your collection of go-to streamers. Then, there’s an event where you can meet these streamers, explore new ones, ask them questions, and play games with them.
There’s no form of event that can compare.
This is far more engaging than a traditional event where someone would sit in the audience, watch, and then go home. These viewers get to walk around, explore, and meet people – all while feeling like they’re a part of something bigger.
Of course, if you can’t make it to the physical event for whatever reason, that’s not a problem. You can still take part in the digital world and experience much of what’s going on as it happens.
In this case, Twitch also offers a variety of virtual experiences, streams the event, has features for online audience participation, and so on.
But don’t believe the entertainment industry is the only one limited to successful hybrid events. The world is seeing so many in so many industries worldwide. Some of the best include;
- Apple’s Special Events
- WEC Grapevine
- Empower Conference
- B2B Summit North America
- Inbound Hosted by Hubspot
Read also; Virtual Event Marketing Ideas.
What are the Benefits of Hybrid Events?
While hybrid events have some pretty clear benefits, you must be clear on what they are. With clarity, you can make the most of them when applying the concept to your own growth and business ventures. Therefore, you can enjoy greater success.
Some of the benefits of hybrid events include:
A Difference in Cost and ROI
It’s not true that hybrid events are more affordable to host than traditional events. The misconception is that you host a smaller physical event and then live stream it, which counts as a hybrid event.
This, as we discussed above, is not the case.
In reality, yes, the costs of a hybrid event can be high, especially when you factor in all the engaging aspects of your event, the entertainment, and all the tech and software you need to make it hybrid.
However, while the initial cost is high, so is the ROI.
If you want to make a profit, you could, in theory, scale down your physical event and amplify the virtual side of things. This can save money while promoting a hybrid event’s best aspects.
Hybrid events just aren’t restricted to ROI through sponsorships (more on this shortly) and physical ticket sales to the physical event. You can open the gates to audience members worldwide, run ads in the digital space, and more, giving you a far higher return.
This leads us very nicely to the next benefit.
Increased Reach and Attendance on a Potentially Global Scale
Since you’re no longer limited to those who can physically attend your event, you open up your reach to people worldwide who can then virtually attend. This drastically increases the reach of your event.
A physical venue may only hold 5,000 people, but a hybrid event is potentially uncapped.
This is fantastic for businesses as it allows them to connect with a larger audience, leading to more sales and conversions.
Increased Sponsorship Opportunities
Sponsorship opportunities are quite limited when you’re hosting a physical event. For example, a trade show in a specific industry will only really attract sponsors from the same industry.
On the other hand, hybrid events provide the opportunity to open up your event to sponsorships from all over the world, which can help you cover the costs of your event and even make a profit.
So many larger sponsors recognize just how beneficial a hybrid event can be for these exact reasons, meaning they’re far more likely to want to get involved with the event you’re hosting.
For example, instead of just placing a banner across the top of the stage or any of the other analog sponsorship marketing used in traditional events, you have more options, such as;
- Setting up a virtual booth or digital sponsorship space
- Allowing the opportunity for the sponsor to give a presentation via video call
- Provide their own speakers or UI branding
- Host certain segments of the events
Sticking with our video game theme, the League of Legends World Championship does a fantastic job of this.
In a nutshell, the World’s finals occur in a venue with a physical audience. They have a crowd, main stage, and commentators, but the whole event is live streamed to a stream with a live chat, usually in excess of 500,000 real-time viewers.
During the event, KitKat, the chocolate bar brand, has a section called ‘Take a break,’ reminding viewers to take a break from whatever they’re doing, something that’s talked about during the virtual broadcast, usually involving a live poll that viewers can vote on for various fun topics.
This provides KitKat with a massive reach and ensures their sponsorship pays off.
Higher Engagement Rates
Hybrid events provide you with a variety of engagement tools that you can use to keep your audience engaged throughout the event. This includes chatbots, social media, live streaming, and so on.
The more engaged people are, the more involved with the event they are and the more memorable the experience and, therefore, your brand will be.
Massive Marketing Potential
Hybrid events allow you to market your event to a broader audience and promote it through various channels. This can help you increase attendance, engagement, and conversions.
Moreover, since there’s so much technology that can be involved in a hybrid event, you’ll have a wealth of content to take onboard. For example, if you have recordings of a panel talk, several Q&As, and other forms of content from the event, this can all be repurposed into real, valuable content to help grow your business.
We’re talking about;
- Blog posts
- YouTube videos
- Instagram/FaceBook Shorts
- Medium posts
- Social media posts
- Podcast content
And so much more. And since you already have an audience for this content.
How to Get Started With Hybrid Events
If you’re tempted by the idea of hosting your very own hybrid event (and you should almost certainly be at least interested in the idea) but aren’t quite sure where to start, don’t worry, let’s touch on it now.
1. Come Up with an Idea
The first step is coming up with an idea for your event. This can be anything from a conference to a workshop to a meetup. Once you have your idea, it’s time to start planning.
The trick here is to get creative and to think outside the box. Be unique and interesting. Create an idea for an event that people will look at and say, “wow, that looks cool/informative. I want to be a part of that.”
Gone are the days of booking a high-profile speaker and getting them to carry the event. Instead, you need to devise ways to make the event as engaging as possible and, therefore, as memorable.
2. Plan Your Event
Just like you would with any other event, you need to plan what you’re going to do and how you’re going to execute it. This means looking into dates, venues, and digital setups. When do you want people in, and for how long? What theme are you going for, what attire is needed, and so on?
I could go on all day about how to plan an event, but that’s a whole other ball game, so I’ll leave that to you. For now, just remember to plan your event like you would any other kind of event.
Here’s my full guide on how to plan and run your own hybrid event.
3. Consider the Hybrid Event Tools You’ll Need
As I mentioned, a lot of technology is involved in the success of hybrid events. This means you’ll need to consider the tools you’ll need to make your event successful.
Some of the tools you might need include;
- A hybrid event hosting platform (or live streaming platform)
- Video conferencing software
- Hybrid event app
- Social media tools
- Marketing tools
You can find and use tools separately, depending on what you’re trying to achieve. However, if you’re looking to make things easy and keep everything organized, it may pay to use an event management platform like EventEngage that can help you create an end-to-end experience in the most effective way possible.
But, you’ll need to research these tools and decide which ones are the best for your event and your budget. Once you have a good understanding of the tools you need, it’s time to start planning your event.
Our Recommendation; EventEngage
4. Create a Timeline
Creating a timeline of your entire event from start to finish is a great way to help you visualize how the day will go and what you’ll need to make it a success. This acts as your foundation for the event, and while it can be tweaked, it’s your manuscript for the big day(s).
Don’t forget to include essential details and times as an overview as well, including:
- The date and time of your event
- The format of your event
- The topics you’ll be covering
- The speakers you’ve lined up
- The Hybrid Event Tools you’ll be using
Once you have all of this information in one place, it will be much easier to start planning and organizing your event.
5. Promote Your Event
The next step is to start promoting your event. This is where all your hard work will pay off, and you’ll begin to see people registering for your event.
There are some of the best ways you can promote your event;
- Create a landing page
- Send out email marketing campaigns
- Use social media
- Publish a press release
- Run a newsletter
- Create a social media campaign
- Create organic traffic
- Invest in influencer marketing
The key is to start promoting your event as early as possible and use various specific channels to best reach your target audience.
6. Host Your Hybrid Event!
And that’s it! Once you’ve followed all these steps, you’ll be ready to host your own hybrid event. Just remember to relax and enjoy it. Hybrid events are a lot of fun and can be a great way to connect with people worldwide. Good luck!
Hybrid events are the future. They offer businesses a wealth of benefits. As a business or organization interested in creating a community around your business and engaging with the people who matter most, it’s perhaps time to think about how hybrid events can work for you.
Check out EventEngage to see how you can get started.