Planning a Hybrid Event: Steal This 9-Step Strategy
Hybrid Events are here to stay.
In the early days of 2020, many event organizers had to make a quick pivot to offer virtual-only conferences.
This of course presented some major challenges. Event planners had to learn on the fly how to connect and engage their attendees through virtual conferences—not to mention the enormous technical learning curve that comes with hosting an online-only event.
But this pivot came with a number of benefits, too. People could reach larger audiences in far-off locations, they could accommodate speakers who couldn’t be there in person, and they could reduce their spend by eliminating costly things like venue bookings.
Now, we have thankfully found a new normal, where in-person events are no longer impossible. But smart event planners haven’t forgotten about all of those benefits that came with the virtual events they were hosting.
Enter the rise of the hybrid event (and with it specialized hybrid event platforms) —the perfect combination of in-person and virtual meetings.
Download The Complete Hybrid Event Checklist – a free, end-to-end checklist template that will help you ensure your hybrid event goes off without a hitch!
If you’re planning your first hybrid event, EventMobi is here to help. We’ve tapped insights from our experienced Event Success Managers and live streaming specialists to bring you this step-by-step strategy to planning a hybrid event that goes off without a hitch.
What is a hybrid event?
A hybrid event seamlessly blends online and in-person elements, creating an engaging experience for anyone attending (no matter where they are). The event holder can then offer evergreen virtual content libraries or ongoing virtual networking opportunities for sponsors, speakers and attendees.
Step 1. Scoping the In-Person & Virtual Aspects of your Hybrid Event
The first step to planning any event is to scope it out. You need to know the size and complexity of your event, so you can map an accurate timeline to prepare.
To get started, sit down with your planning team and answer these questions:
- How many people do we plan to invite to the in-person event?
- How many “virtual only” tickets do we want to sell/distribute for this event?
- What are the components of the event that must happen in person?
- What are the methods we’ll use to engage our virtual participants?
- What are the most important hybrid event marketing assets we want to get out of this event?
Depending on the size and scale of your event, you should start planning anywhere from a year to six weeks in advance.
Step 2. Preparing your Event Space for your Hybrid Event
The next step in designing a hybrid event is building the event space where you will manage various elements of your event—before, during, and after it’s gone live.
The EventMobi Hybrid Event Platform is designed specifically for this purpose.
You can create a custom branded event space that is accessible on any device and as a dedicated mobile event app. Your audience will use either the mobile event app (in-person attendees) or virtual event space (remote attendees) to navigate the event, interact with event speakers, sponsors and each other, watch session live streams and pre-recorded videos, and participate in polls, quizzes, and gamification challenges.
The event space is also where you’ll create your library of virtual content, which participants can easily access to catch up on sessions they missed or revisit those they found particularly engaging.
As a result, you’ll have one single place to manage your entire event, and your attendees will have an easy-to-use, immersive and engaging experience that makes for a smooth and memorable hybrid event.
Once you’ve laid the groundwork for your event space, you can move on to the marketing and technical aspects of planning a hybrid event.
Step 3. Drumming up Excitement for your Hybrid Event
Raising awareness about your event is important, and there are a few extra things you should do when you’re promoting a hybrid event.
In addition to all of your traditional event marketing tactics, make sure you inform your audience about all of the opportunities you’re providing with a hybrid format.
In your hybrid event marketing materials, highlight that participants who choose to attend virtually will still get the high-quality, interactive experience that comes with attending a live event. Here is some phrasing you can use in your promotions:
- Watch live events in real-time
- Engage with speakers and other attendees via live session chat, polls & Q&A
- Build your network with easy 1:1 virtual meetings
- Visit virtual sponsor booths
- Ask questions and engage in discussion, no matter where you are
- Access all of our event content at your own pace and on your own schedule
- View exclusive behind-the-scenes content
- Access pre- and post-event networking sessions
There are also hybrid-specific benefits you can highlight for your in-person audience as well. Anyone attending in person will have access to live stream content, so they can pop out to take a phone call or head back to their room for a bit of peace and quiet, without having to miss any of the events they’d like to see.
They’ll also be able to network with people who aren’t at the event—people they might never meet if the event were only in-person.
Be sure to also let attendees know how flexible this event will be. Unexpected circumstances (like changes in health and safety restrictions or bad weather) makes it easy for your audience to switch from attending in person to attending virtually, or vice versa.
Step 4. Planning the In-Person Space for your Hybrid Event
While the EventMobi team is helping you set up your event space, you can turn your attention to the physical venue where you’ll host your in-person attendees.
Of course, you’ll need to take in all of the considerations you would when planning an in-person-only event—how much space you’ll need, the location of the venue, food and beverage costs, accessibility and amenities, etc.
But there’s a very important consideration that is easy to overlook when planning a hybrid event:
How fast is the internet at the venue?
To successfully live stream your in-person content, you’ll need high-speed, reliable internet. Often, older buildings don’t have the bandwidth necessary to stream high-quality content, so be sure to factor this into your decision making.
Your EventMobi virtual production specialists will be happy to help you test the internet at your chosen venue, to ensure it’s (literally) up to speed. And in the case of technical difficulties during your event, the virtual AV team will be standing by at a remote location, to make sure virtual attendees aren’t left in the dark.
Step 5. Aligning your On-Site and Virtual AV Teams
When you work with EventMobi, you’ll have a dedicated AV team on hand to manage all of the live streaming elements of your event.
In the weeks leading up to the event, they’ll coordinate directly with the on-site AV team. (In most cases, EventMobi clients use an AV crew they’ve hired separately or through the venue.)
These two teams will take care of the technical aspects of live streaming virtual events for all of your attendees. The professionals at EventMobi have run many successful hybrid events, so they know exactly what questions to ask and measures to take to make sure everything is ready for the launch date.
“During this phase, we make sure our clients have sufficient internet bandwidth, proper camera and microphone setup, and we’ll help prepare for pre-recorded sessions. We’ll also make sure all of your assets, like slides and video, are professionally done and ready to roll on show day.”Mitch Gibson, Video Production Manager at EventMobi
Step 6. Prepping your Speakers, Moderators, and Sponsors
The success of your event hinges on having presenters and sponsors who are confident and engaging—which means they need to be well prepared before they take the stage or face the camera.
For in-person attendees, you’ll want to prepare as you normally would—give speakers a chance to view the venue and practice their talk ahead of time, make sure they know the details of their schedule, and get all of their slides and branding ready in advance.
You’ll want to brief all your speakers and sponsors about the hybrid aspects of your venue. Remember, some speakers may be unable to attend at the last minute, so it’s good for them to know what to expect if they have to present virtually.
Once again, our AV team is here to make sure your virtual speakers are well prepared. They’ll make sure their at-home camera and internet are set up to support streaming and take care of integrating the content that corresponds with each speaker.
When briefing your virtual speakers, there is some advice you should give them ahead of time:
- Make sure they have a quiet, well-lit space to present from
- Ensure they have a high-quality microphone and webcam for streaming
- Advise them to avoid distracting jewelry or other accessories that may interfere with sound
- Test their internet speed to make sure it can support streaming
Step 7. Go live! It’s Time for your Hybrid Event
If you’ve taken care of all the steps above, then you’ll be well prepared when it’s finally time to go live with your event.
All of this work should make for a smooth event from start to finish. In the case that something unexpected does arise, you’ll be in good hands with the EventMobi professionals on your team.
The flexibility you’ve built into your hybrid event during the planning stage will also make it easy for you to pivot and switch things up, in case you need to shift different aspects of your event between virtual and hybrid.
In other words, you can breathe easy and enjoy the event!
Step 8. Turn your Hybrid Event into a Content Gold Mine
One of the biggest benefits of hosting a hybrid event is the amount of content you’ll get after the fact. Every speaker, presenter, panel, or sponsor you featured at your event can be transformed into long-term, evergreen content accessible to attendees and those who couldn’t make it.
You can integrate these talks into your website content, feature them on social media, and even use them to promote your next event.
Your EventMobi team can help you transform your event into a virtual library of hybrid event marketing content. We can build this digital space for you, or export the content for you to distribute and use as you wish.
Step 9. Step Back and Analyze your Results
When you’ve packed up the event, it’s a good idea to take stock of how everything went. There are a few more questions your team can ask to assess the event:
- What kind of feedback are we getting from virtual and in-person attendees?
- What unexpected events happened, and how did we handle them?
- What were the best and most exciting moments of the event?
- Did we meet the goals we set at the start of the planning process?
- What were the biggest lessons we learned from hosting a hybrid event?
- What will we do differently next time?
Measuring Hybrid Event Marketing ROI
EventMobi users have access to an advanced analytics dashboard that can give you insights into the engagement rate and ROI of your event. You can use all this information to learn what worked (and what didn’t!) so you can deliver even more successful hybrid events in the future.
Planning a hybrid event may seem intimidating at first, but a solid strategy can take away a lot of the stress. Use this formula to plan your next hybrid event, and you’ll almost certainly hear positive feedback from all of your attendees—no matter whether they joined your event live on-site or enjoyed the experience from home.
EventMobi is here to make your next hybrid event a resounding success.
Ready to get started?
Learn more about EventMobi’s event app pricing, or book your personalized demo with one of our event tech specialists today!