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Why hybrid events are on the rise and how to manage them in 2023

Hybrid events; an event with a mix of in-person and virtual attendees, are here to stay.

That’s not just our opinion according to new research in the industry. Pre-pandemic, hybrid or virtual gatherings made up only 19% of events world-wide but now 60% of event planners and businesses say they will continue to host events in this way in 2023 and beyond. So, why are hybrid experiences sticking around?

Technology and internet connectivity means that it is easier than ever to have meaningful conversations with people from across the country, and even the globe, without the need for costly, carbon emitting travel. When it comes to inclusivity, hybrid events also mean you can have more voices in the room. Attendees with additional needs or people who are neurodivergent now have more options to get involved, increasing the opportunity for diverse and varied thinking and connection in your business.

While a hybrid event opens the doors for more people to take part, there are some important points to consider before you decide to jump head first into hybrid event planning…

1 In person vs online experiences are different – and that’s ok.

Taking part in an experience online or in-person both have their pros and cons, but it’s important to remember that they are very different at their core. Trying to create a ‘one size fits most’ solution will leave all attendees feeling a little underwhelmed, so play to the strengths of each option to make sure everyone gets the best value from taking part. Try to align how you would like people to think, feel and react; just like you’d choose different venues for different audiences and event types, the platform and tech you use must be a good fit for what you are trying to achieve.


2 Get people talking

Try not to keep your in-person and online attendees separate. Build in points where they can interact with each other and the speakers. Consider whether you would like this to be in real time and if your on and off-line audiences can mingle in the allocated networking slots. Make sure you brief your speakers so they keep virtual audiences in mind and make them feel included; online polls and Q&As give both in-person and virtual attendees the same opportunity to interact with speakers and contribute.


3 Deliver the goods

A special delivery to remote delegates shows that you’re still thinking about them on the day and adds a little ‘extra’ to the experience. This could be a parcel of the merchandise they would have been gifted at the offline event, tasty snacks to enjoy during the event or even a voucher for a coffee. Not only does it show that you’ve considered the needs of your online attendees, you’re also increasing the chances of social media interaction from your guests as people share snaps of their special delivery.


4 Balance the budget

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that holding a hybrid event is the cheaper option. Make sure you budget accordingly to avoid any nasty surprises. Having less attendees on site doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll save money, any budget which may have been spent on catering or venue hire will be replaced by the cost of high quality video capture and streaming platforms to ensure online guests get a quality experience.


5 www…(Welcome, Welcome, Welcome)

A warm welcome is one of the most memorable parts of an attendee’s event experience and this can often be overlooked if you’re joining online. Allocate a team of ‘online community managers’ to warmly welcome your online attendees and deal with any customer service queries during the event. This way, both sets of guests come away feeling looked after, happy and understood.


6 Test life is the best life

You might have the best speakers and content in the business, but if your tech fails then your remote audiences are going to be left twiddling their thumbs (and you’ll definitely hear about it). Make sure you test, test and test again when it comes to joining experiences, sound, break-out spaces and video sharing. Speak to the venue well-in advance about their connectivity speeds on-site and have a contingency plan in place for potential last minute signal, software or hardware issues.


7 Consider your sponsors

In-person and online experiences can offer different opportunities for event sponsors and it’s good to have these conversations early to manage expectations. Particular points of interest include, the number of attendees that will be there in person and what that means for your sponsors’ marketing materials and investment. Alongside opportunities at the venue, you could also consider sponsorship of digital backdrops behind the speakers, logos that can be seen on screen (for example, ‘lower thirds’ graphics, animations and coffee mugs) or include sponsor details in digital information packs.

For more information on hybrid events or to speak to the team about your 2023 hybrid goals email or call +44 (0)191 691 3456.