While the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all industries, the events industry was among the greatest hit. However, the vaccine rollout is bringing some sigh of relief to this already stretched industry. While we expected to see normalcy return and people gather in person by the end of 2021, the emergence of new COVID variants has made this a pipe dream.
Regardless, the pandemic has redefined how meetings and events are held. As the event organisers turned online as an alternative to in-person meetings, virtual events have already become the order of the day. The attendees can participate in the events without leaving their home’s comfort.
The in-person attendance and the virtual event experience have led to hybrid events. By combining the two, hybrid events leverage their benefits to deliver the ultimate experience to the participants. Therefore, companies seeking to host the events and record an extensive reach need to have a solid hybrid event strategy. In this post, we will consider the hybrid event management by an organisation to ensure that both the virtual and the in-person attendees get the best experience.
A hybrid event refers to the event experience organised and designed for virtual and in-person attendees and ways of connecting all the audience, both online and in-person. In earlier days, the companies planned hybrid events to enable the virtual audience to join the in-person event through teleconferencing, live streaming, among other means. The online audience had limited access and event experience, unlike in-person participants.
However, because of the impacts of the COVID-19, the hybrid events have to be planned deliberately to the extent of hiring hybrid event management companies. All this is to ensure that virtual and in-person attendees get the best event experience.
Hybrid Event Management
The management of a hybrid event begins with planning. Hybrid event planning is complicated compared to virtual events and in-person event planning. After choosing the platform where the virtual aspects of the event will happen, selecting the venue where the in-person attendees will gather comes next. The management of the event is the only thing remaining. The organisers also look for equipment like cameras and microphones. Upon sorting everything during planning, ensuring that the event runs smoothly is the next phase. So, what can you do to ensure a difference in hybrid event management?
1. Prioritising the Community
Ensure that the attendees, both virtual and in-person, can seamlessly interact. Through message boards, online chat rooms, and other in-app interactions, you can do this. The idea of a community makes the event hybrid. So, if there are no interactions between the virtual and in-person attendees, then the meaning of a hybrid event is lost. The participants will not feel connected to the hybrid event experience.
2. Practice Makes Perfect
It is said that repeated practice makes things perfect. The event organiser or the organisation should prepare its speaker(s) early enough for the hybrid event experience. Begin with the selected event platform and ensure the speakers reach both in-person and virtual attendees on the platform. Allow the keynote speakers to prepare or practice on stage where the recording will be.
To ensure the virtual audience feels connected, tell the virtual speakers to face the camera from time to time. Comfort in meetings is vital. Ensure that all the attendees are comfortable with the platform or the venue for the in-person attendees. It ensures that because the attendees and the speakers are familiar with the chosen platform, they can manoeuvre around any technical issue that may arise.
3. Offering Interactivity To The Attendees
You will lose the attention of your virtual attendees fast if the only way you engage them is by making them passively watch the speakers. Ensure that the attendees have other ways of interacting during the sessions. There also should be options for the attendees to react to what the speaker says, like asking questions, voting polls, or even raising hands.
To make the event more interactive, you can allow those attending the event in person to record and share videos with their virtual attendees through the event app. Does your hybrid event venue have a breakout room with hi-tech visual and audio capabilities? You can have a blend of online and in-person attendees inside the breakout rooms. You can achieve this by setting up the rooms with 360-degree smart cameras. They show every person in the room and also highlight the speaker. Additionally, you can set up some screens in the breakout rooms to highlight those attendees participating online.
4. Ensuring A Seamless Registration, Log-In, And Check-In
Simplicity is sometimes the best with registration. The selected platform should offer the users a simple registration or payment form. They should also log in and check with minimal problems, if any.
A cohesive solution combining a virtual event platform with a mobile app ensures that the in-person and virtual participants can navigate the event space easily. For a smoother experience, integrate your registration form with the event platform and the application. It helps the attendees to log in or check-in onto your platform hassle-free.
5. Ending The Hybrid Event In A Splash
The last moments in an event can be as vital as the beginning. How do you close your event? Do not allow the attendees to log off or leave without giving them a carefully curated closing remark. You can end with your best speaker, a musical performance, or other forms of entertainment. Regardless of how you finish the event, ensure it keeps the attendees reminiscing about the event. After closing the hybrid event, you can follow up to ensure it is fruitful. Otherwise, it would be useless to plan and hold an event without gauging its impact on your organisation.
Hybrid events have many benefits since they combine in-person and virtual meetings. With this pandemic, Virtual and hybrid events are here to stay. Therefore, any business that understands hybrid event management will undoubtedly be successful.
Similar to virtual events, hybrid events will continue evolving. While your first attempt might not be very perfect, you can take the feedback and reviews from your audience and build on them. Alternatively, you can hire a hybrid event management company to help manage your event. What about learning by doing? Attend some hybrid events and learn from the organisers; for one thing, hybrid events are here to stay.