There is no doubt that the idea of a hybrid event production has become one of the most talked-about trends within the events industry in recent years. It may appear to be just another buzzword, but it’s an entirely re-imagined approach to how we produce and deliver events today.
What is a Hybrid Event?
A hybrid event is essentially where multiple disciplines are combined in one location simultaneously. For example, music concerts with stage design, video projection, and interactive game elements all rolled into one performance. Although the concept has only grown more popular over the last few years, it is certainly nothing new.
What are a Hybrid Event Production’s Benefits?
This is a growing trend within the events industry due to its benefits – for organizers, end-users, and clients alike.
In terms of budget, as hybrid events require less space than conventional conferences or exhibitions, they can be hosted in smaller venues without affecting attendance numbers which drastically reduces the cost per head.
There is also no additional cost for setting up or dismantling, unlike temporary event structures such as arenas, marquees, and tents.
This is mainly because they do not require any framework but can instead incorporate stylized décor and props into their design, adding another layer of detail and beauty and creating a more memorable experience for all involved.
Organizers can also include mini live performances in the schedule of a hybrid event between main stage talks or presentations if they wish. This can help keep the audience engaged when brakes are being taken and provide a much more memorable experience for those involved.
In terms of attendees, the chances are that anyone that purchases a ticket to attend a hybrid event will already be interested in both events and music or gaming.
For example, think about how many people may go along to see a band at an arena tour and an exhibition taking place at the same place. The great thing about combining these two things is that it lets you appeal to entirely different audiences within one location, making marketing far more effective.
Finally, there is no doubt that hybrid event production is a lot more fun to attend. The immersive experiences that events have been turning their hands to recently can bring something unique and exciting to the industry, bringing back the element of surprise and wonder that was sadly lost for a while.
8 Things We’ve Learned About Hybrid Event Production
Organizations are increasingly investing in hybrid event production when a live-streamed portion of an event is combined with the physical to reinforce messaging or make it more accessible. What are some best practices for producing this type of program? Here we share eight key lessons we’ve learned over the last few years.
Be sure to start with the end in mind.
What is the goal for your virtual experience? Is it scalable, inclusive, and engaging, or is it a second stream of revenue meant to supplement your event’s content? Once you’re clear on the goals and expectations, you can plan how to deliver that experience best.
Design an attendee-driven experience.
You know what they say: “Too many chefs spoil the broth,” so decide whether you want attendees designing their own experience or if you prefer more of a curated selection of content and activities.
The former will likely yield a more robust set of results but may require more oversight, while the latter makes for a less dynamic session but might be easier to manage overall.
Think about redistributing your budget.
Many virtual event production companies have been built on the premise of hosting free events, but this is a luxury many organizations can no longer afford to maintain when budgets are tight.
Depending on your resources and goals, affordable experience may be achieved by simply handing over the reins to a third party for all or part of what you’re currently spending in-house.
Create separate run-of-shows for face-to-face and virtual events.
While it’s nice to leverage assets across both experiences, there will always be differences in tone and delivery that should be considered when planning out your schedule. It might even make sense to use different messaging or branding (or keep things completely separate) to keep the experiences distinct.
Connect the face-to-face audience and virtual audience with the same chatbox.
One of the best parts about running a virtual event is having an opportunity to interact with your presenters and members of your online community. However, sometimes it’s hard for staff on hand to know what questions are coming in from each group (and where they might overlap).
A chat box that connects both audiences will help bridge this gap by putting more eyes on issues that need immediate attention – plus, it’ll be nice for speakers to see their audience extends beyond what they can “see” in front of them.
Coach your speakers in front of their laptops.
Many timers and hosts prefer to see the presenter in front of them while they’re speaking – but if you don’t have that luxury, consider setting up a laptop or monitor behind the stage and coaching on the fly. This will allow speakers to stay engaged with their slide deck and your audience even when an activity requires it.
Don’t let technology rule the show.
While there are certainly some benefits to having all of your tools at your fingertips on-site or from home, it’s important not to get lost in tweaking every element instead of just “showing up” and delivering what you set out to say.
Your face-to-face event must follow every safety protocol according to the CDC.
If you’re physically hosting an event where attendees might be physically interacting, like networking or meeting with other attendees, then you do need specific safety protocols in place that require washing hands or using hand sanitizer to avoid the spread of germs.
Depending on your event’s specific objectives, it may make sense for some virtual components to be presenter-driven (presenters speak and answer questions while viewers watch or listen). In contrast, others are more attendee-driven (attendees submit questions in advance, use chat boxes during presentations—or both).
When organizing your hybrid event, consider all of these options so that you’re not only benefiting your local audience but also engaging more of your larger one.
You may even attract new participants who might not have otherwise attended due to limited travel budgets or other constraints. And if you’re able to pull off a successful event this way, you will likely see a significant boost in registrations for your next one.