Hybrid events are the new normal in our events world after COVID. Now live events can be organized again, the mix of meeting live in limited numbers and simultaneously including an online audience in your live communication seems to be the solution. Our vision: ‘A session streamed online, is not a hybrid event.’
1. Dare to think different
Go do things and discover, don’t sit still, get moving! When not knowing what to do, go back to the core of your event: connecting people. This does not need to take place at the RAI with as many people as possible, this could also be a smaller event hosted multiple times. Do you dare to think differently and bigger or are you going to try to do it the same again?
2. Spread your event
Spread your event over several days to ensure the right balance in networking possibilities for both physical and virtual participants. So don’t just give exhibitors a physical stage, but organize an “online match OR follow-up Day” where exhibitors can have online meetings with both physical and virtual participants!
3. Involve your audience
Involve your virtual audience in physical events by, for example, showing a screen with Q&A (of virtual participants) on stage to the speaker.
4. Open a helpdesk room
Open a virtual helpdesk room in Zoom or Microsoft Teams where everyone can go with problems. This prevents you as an event manager from having to panic because five people call you at the same moment having the same issue. While in the online helpdesk room all participants can be helped all at once or after each other. Statistics have shown, 10% of all attendees are having issues with the video and audio settings on their computers. At every event having 50+ virtual participants, we advise adding a helpdesk room that is hosted by organizers themselves or our support team. This can’t be missed!
5. Stream your physical sessions
Stream your physical sessions, this is so easy nowadays that you are a thief of your own event if you don’t do it. It’s a small effort to link a camera to a stream and broadcast it. There are many AV parties we work with and can recommend! We create packages together to save costs and therefore we do not have to charge you €6000 or more. Also, ask your event location if they can stream to an RTMP link.
6. Organize networking concepts
Organize and structure networking concepts to attract participants. If you only attend knowledge sessions, why not watch that stream from home? People are lazy. You should give them the opportunity to match, schedule meetings, and be part of something before they get in the car or plane. If you have five appointments scheduled upfront, you are less likely to cancel or not show up!
7. Pick your location wisely
Pick your location on hybrid capabilities, keep them sharp. Shouldn’t they have someone standby who just arranges the streams? Just like someone in the cinema turns on the movie…#opportunity to distinguish yourself as a location.
8. Embrace event technology
Embrace event technology, this is the core of your event instead of choosing the location as the core. Your event website/tool is where everything should come together and participants should be able to create their personal schedules. As an event organizer you will not show physical sessions to a virtual participant from the US to attend, but the Livestream etc. A lot can go wrong if you think hybrid is really easy! In fact, it’s two events in one which only makes everything more complex. So make sure you make it easier for participants with a tool that focuses on simplicity. So leave the magic to event networking and/or session scheduling tools and trust that they know how to do it. As an event software party, you will quickly see 200+ unique events, all with their own concepts and approach, while organizers organize maybe 5-30 per year. Who knows better what works and what doesn’t?
9. Focus on user experience
Focus on user experience, not on the looks but on the flow. Make sure participants go through the minimum amount of steps possible. Nice, you want to collect as much data as possible, but the time of forms is over! Think about your goals and priorities. Welcome to the world of conversion. Why do you think there is only one entry field on Google.com?
10. Split registration
Split the registration into 3+ ticket types anyway; virtual / in-person / combination. By doing this you can later show/send the right information to the right people. This prevents a lot of confusion!
11. Choose one time zone
Remember your time zones! Choose one main time zone and make sure the event technology tool you use automatically adjusts the times to the different users.
12. Reflect on your business model
Think about your business model, does selling one ticket still, fit what you want to offer? Or do you want to offer year-round access to a community where you can gain relevant knowledge and meet people? In that case, you are selling a subscription, not a ticket. Welcome to the subscription world 😉 Think of Netflix, Spotify, Zoom, etc
13. Make your event valuable
Make your event valuable, innovative and provide new concepts. If you have an event where, for example, speed dates take place, facilitate balloons and have them popped if there is a match or a follow-up is scheduled. A meaningful meeting took place! So make an impact and offer participants some help.
1. Host one single stream
Don’t think you have a hybrid event if you stream your sessions. No, this is a streamed physical event. Nice but we’ve been doing this for 100 years already. Offer your online participants more than just a stream; ensure interaction and encounters!
2. Do not exclude anyone
Do not exclude anyone, if you are organizing an international conference, think of the participants who do not want/are not allowed to travel and offer them a way to get in touch with physical participants!
3. Be careful mixing virtual and online meetings
Do not involve participants physically & online in important network meetings such as job fairs, exhibitor meetings, roundtables! Example: You are live at an event, at your stand with your phone trying to have a video call while there are other participants at your stand. This simply does not work! Make sure those online meetings take place 1 or 2 days before or after the fair! It is best to set up a camera/ laptop if you have three roundtables for virtual participants, but not for 15-20, this will just create one big chaos. How are you going to make sure the virtual participants can be heart? In short: think before you act! Hybrid sounds nice but a combination of online and physical at the same time does not always work.
4. Go back to physical only
Going back to Physical, please do not because your participant won’t either. Move along, adapt to your participants and sponsors (customers). They may not even be allowed to go to large gatherings or live in Hawaii because they learned that remote working is quite fine. Very simple: ask what they want! They really want to buy that large booth for 1 million if you ensure the same number of leads and reach that they achieved before.
5. Assume skills of speakers
Don’t assume that Speakers are all hybrid savy, but also brief your speakers about how new tools work and how to stay connected with online participants. Take care of them, help them and explain things. “oh I didn’t know there was a virtual Q&A or poll!”
6. Do it all yourself
Don’t do things yourself with registration forms and zoom links and merge mails. Provide a tool where all this is no longer necessary and everything is clear at a glance.
We have learned a lot in the past year and are more than happy to share our insights with you. Check out more expert advice from people within the industry here. Any comments or questions after reading the above, feel free to contact us!
Hope to see you all soon at your live, hybrid, or virtual event!