In the rapidly evolving landscape of event management, hybrid events have emerged as a powerful solution, combining the best of both virtual and in-person experiences. Go West are experts at managing hybrid events. Co-ordinating two experiences for separate audiences who are connected by one common goal or message is a challenging task. This article will guide you through what you need to know about hybrid events, from their definition to when and how to host them.

Defining hybrid events:

A hybrid event is the best of both worlds. You take the face-to-face “live” in-person events with the best of virtual events to form an event that speaks to a broader audience. Your hybrid event has a distinctive value proposition: One event, two experiences. By providing the option to attend online or onsite, you will make the event more accessible to people financially and in terms of their time. 

Hybrid events are essential to the events landscape, offering huge rewards for organisations leveraging this powerful event format. Not only do event planners say hybrid events are a great solution to help them connect with international audiences, but 86% of organisers see a positive return on investment of their hybrid events within months.

Types of hybrid events: 

  1. Conferences and trade shows 
  2. Forums 
  3. Annual organisation meetings 
  4. Company spirit weeks 

A hybrid event is the best of both worlds. You take the face-to-face “live” in-person events with the best of virtual events to form an event that speaks to a broader audience. Your hybrid event has a distinctive value proposition: One event, two experiences. By providing the option to attend online or onsite, you will make the event more accessible to people financially and in terms of their time. 

Hybrid events are essential to the events landscape, offering huge rewards for organisations leveraging this powerful event format. Not only do event planners say hybrid events are a great solution to help them connect with international audiences, but 86% of organisers see a positive return on investment of their hybrid events within months.

Types of hybrid events: 

  1. Conferences and trade shows 
  2. Forums 
  3. Annual organisation meetings 
  4. Company spirit weeks 
LED screen with two chairs in front and cameras in the foreground ready to film

When to host a hybrid event:

Before you start choosing the right event format, you need to identify your objectives for your event strategy. Knowing this, you will be armed with the information to decide whether to include virtual elements in your event. 

One of our biggest questions is: How do I know when to host a hybrid event? 

You need to ask yourself:

  • Does this virtual element make sense? 
  • Will we satisfy our broader business objectives with a hybrid event? 
  • Will the people attending the event get added value?
Camera man recording virtual event in dublin for the EPA
Hybrid Event: 

Hybrid events are a fantastic option for your organisation when an event can be hosted onsite and virtually without compromising the information delivery. If you need to have the onsite presence of an attendee to ensure the contents and objectives are translated correctly, then you should opt for an in-person-only event. 

Choose hybrid if you are:
  • A small organisation with a small budget wants your event to reach a wider audience. 
  • If you are running an event and want to make it more accessible, you can put a smaller fee on the virtual attendance tickets.
  • Be aware that your audience has preferences on having a virtual option.
  • Introducing your brand, attendees have heard of your brand and are curious to investigate before making an emotional or financial investment. 
  • They are trying to appeal to a younger demographic who likes to attend and work digitally.
  • Interested in lowering the carbon footprint of your event. 
  • Want to increase the sponsorship value of your event.
Choose in-person if you are: 
  • Looking to encourage activities like networking. Although this can be done through online forums it is always better to meet someone in person. 
  • Trying to get attendees to create a deeper connection between employees or attendees.
  • If you want to create better learning opportunities, there is nothing like immersing yourself in an onsite environment and learning from those around you. 

How to organise a hybrid event? 

Now that we have covered why you should organise a hybrid event and when is a good time to go hybrid you need to understand the key elements of any great hybrid event. If you are an event planner or have experience organising in-person events some of these steps will be familiar to you. 

Pro tip: Always remember that you are organising two separate experiences in one and both will have slightly different needs

Venue selection: 

Like organising in-person events, securing the right venue is the most crucial element. When it comes to hybrid events, it is nearly more critical, as well as catering for onsite attendees your venue needs to have the right infrastructure to support the virtual elements of your event. 

But what does this mean?

Ensure the venue has space for an AV team of 7 to 8 people, plus their equipment to sit comfortably and work their magic. 

Running a large hybrid event will require a strong broadband connection, be sure to ask what streaming capabilities their network has and communicate that to your AV team. 

Chairs set up facing a stage in conference hall
Content: 

Your event content is the star of the show. If your content is not engaging or entertaining for the audience you will struggle to hold their attention, this is especially true for virtual attendees. To avoid this obstacle during our planning meetings we tend to come up with various tricks to keep the audience engaged. 

We can do this by running polls and using gamification. Polls are a great way to increase interaction with virtual guests, by asking questions and getting their responses in real time. 

Your main goal here should be to make the event as interactive as possible to bridge the gap between the online and offline worlds.

Selecting the right platform: 

Once you’ve chosen an in-person venue, it’s time to select the events platform you’ll use to support your virtual audience.

Your hybrid platform will need a few different components to be worth your investment. Firstly, an obvious one. The ability to live-stream the event to a large international audience is essential. 

To boost interaction it is good to have the ability to receive comments from the online audience. These comments can be posed as questions by a moderator in the audience during a live Q&A session at the event; this is a fantastic way to make online viewers feel more involved. 

The platform we use at Go West for our hybrid events is Slido, this is a streaming software for virtual and hybrid events. The platform is user friendly and can be used across mobile and desktop devices which makes the event more accessible to attendees on the go.

Technical Support:

Go West like many people out there are not technical wizards. It is essential to have a strong AV team behind you who can take care of all the technical elements that come with a hybrid event. 

Some venues will have an AV team onsite that will be able to provide this service, otherwise, you will need to outsource to a trusted company to stream your events.

To ensure our hybrid events run smoothly we partner with Creative Technology, an audio visual company based in Ireland. Their team is amazing, and will help you with every technical aspect of the event.

AV technicians behind AV desk