Hybrid events integrate digital features and virtual elements into an in-person event. However, this type of hybridization only works if you have an event platform that can fully support all of the features your event requires.
As the event industry attempts to figure out a “new normal,” it is likely that hybrid events will play an increasingly larger role.
A hybrid event allows you to gather a smaller number of attendees in a venue, respecting social distancing practices and any locally mandated crowd size limitations, while still reaching a larger audience at home. Different from just webcasting a physical event, a hybrid event allows the remote audience to participate and interact in the live portion of the event through various platform features like live text or video chat.
If you’ve never hosted a hybrid event, know that there are things that you’ll need to consider in order for the event to run smoothly.
Before presenting the features and details of the 5 best hybrid event platforms, it is important to understand what you should look for in a hybrid event platform.
Features to Look for in a Hybrid Event Platform
An event platform software can be used for in-person events, virtual-only events, and hybrid events. This type of software will support and manage the elements of your event, whether through managing attendees, registration, leads, or event engagement.
The event platform you choose will depend on the type of event you are hosting. A virtual conference may require a different virtual component than a trade show or expo and vice versa. But the event type aside, the event platform should offer the following key benefits:
Attendee Management & Analytics
Attendee management means the management of people who have attended the event, who have expressed interest in the event, and who are currently attending the event (either in person or virtually). It also involves the measurement of attendee engagement.
Attendee management services provide data for each attendee. This will include registration data and behaviors during the event itself. These details can then be passed off to vendors, presenters, and sponsors for solid lead generation, lead retrieval, and networking.
Attendee data and other analytics will provide the event organizer with crucial information, but it will also let vendors and other participants know where they can improve their brand and market reach.
Automated Ticketing, Registration, and POS Services
Regardless of the type of event that you are hosting, it is likely that you need participants to reserve a spot, purchase a ticket and register, or check-in.
Automating these features does not necessarily mean that your event is automatically regulated. Instead, this just means that you do not have to worry about physical tickets alone and instead can focus on the quality of each session and the engagement with the online audience.
Virtual or online ticketing systems and registration are becoming mandatory. And if you are hosting a hybrid event, you will need some way of synchronizing these features and your platform should be able to do this.
Live-Chat and Networking
The biggest bonus of hosting a hybrid event is that attendees both in-person and online can interact with presenters and with each other. With live-chat options, virtual attendees will be able to digitally attend a live event, contribute, and engage as if there were there in person.
Live-chat or networking options (such as a virtual lobby) can be integrated for all types of virtual events. By encouraging online interaction, and creating multiple opportunities to interact, your event can easily integrate a remote audience.
Managing audience engagement is one of the most difficult things to do when hosting a virtual audience. But, with a live chat option and open networking opportunities, you can more easily assess the level at which your audience is interacting with the group and/or the event as a whole.
The Best Hybrid Event Platforms
Since each hybrid event is unique, we thought it was best to share a wide range of hybrid event platforms. This way you can determine which software works best for your event needs.
Each of the following hybrid event platforms provides event organizers with a unique benefit. And as always, be sure to do some research on your own to determine whether or not the platform is right for you.
Here are our top 5 picks for the best hybrid event platforms (in alphabetical order):
Accelevents is an award-winning hosting platform that is designed for virtual, hybrid, and in-person events of all types and sizes. It has comprehensive support services for auctions, conferences, festivals, fundraising events, and event management.
Accelevents not only excels at managing the event as it is happening, but it can also help with event planning and event strategy.
In addition to that, this virtual event platform can support individualized needs, such as reservation management, registration, venue management, mobile event apps, event check-in, ticketing, and event booking.
Accelevents is an entirely web-based and cloud-based SaaS and is an intelligent platform used by trusted event professionals. They also provide 24/7 live rep support so that there is no stress during the course of your hybrid event.
Accelevents was voted among Capterra’s Top 20 Event Management Software for 2020.
Pricing: 20% of total ticket sales for paid events, $3/attendee/day for free events, free trial available.
- Virtual lobby
- Real-time chat
- Live streaming
- Customized branding
- Branded event website
- Attendee management
- Lead generation
- Online registration
- Surveys and polls
- Record, playback and download
As a trusted event management software and event app, Boomset is a virtual platform that provides end-to-end organization for events of all sizes—including enterprise-level events.
The service, which is entirely web-based (SaaS), offers features like an integrated online/on-site registration, on-demand badge printing, facial recognition, and other comprehensive services for event check-in. Boomset is a great tool for your first hybrid conference and for engaging remote attendees.
Boomset excels at both in-person and virtual conference services, such as attendee management, lead generation, live streaming, real-time chat, and reporting/analytics. With Boomset, you will feel like your remote audience members are right there with you.
Pricing: Not provided by the vendor
- Online Registration
- Facial Recognition & Gamification
- Session Registration & Management
- Lead Retrieval
- Attendee App Networking
- Virtual Video Broadcasting (Live & Recorded)
- Virtual Exhibitors/Sponsors
BigMarker is an award-winning and affordable webinar software that allows your virtual participants to seamlessly interact and network with each presenter, other attendees, and all vendors. BigMarker focuses on cloud-based services (i.e., web-based, cloud, and SaaS), and has install options for iOS and Android.
Intuitive features include private chat, real-time chat, presentation tools and streaming, record and playback options, two-way audio and video, electronic hand-raising, on-demand webcasting, and video conferencing. This is a great platform for a hybrid event as it can not only provide features for virtual-only events, but it can also integrate digital benefits and on-demand webcasting for any hybrid event.
In addition to providing an array of services during the event, BigMarker also puts up the event on a privately hosted landing page. This page is responsive, provides analytics, and is SEO managed.
In 2020, BigMarker received Capterra’s award for Best Ease of Use Webinar Software, Best Value Webinar Software, and was among the Top 20 Webinar Software. You can easily integrate the Simulive event style into this webinar software.
Pricing: $79.00/month, with a free trial available
- Notifications during the event
- Customizable branding
- Live chat
- Screen share
- Multi-host options
Whova is a cloud-based mobile event app and event management software that also provides social media and online marketing integration. Whova is perfect for these in-person events that want to remain largely in-person with a minimal digital element.
This product features event maps, mobile check-in, networking, real-time updates, one-on-one messaging, gamification, and much more. With Whova, you can provide the added bonus of a digital environment for your in-person event.
Whova has speedy and knowledgeable customer service available 24/7 (with a live representative) so that you know that any issue that you experience will be resolved quickly. This will allow for zero interruptions for your hybrid event.
Pricing: Not provided by the vendor
- Sponsorship management
- Surveys and feedback
- Management for badges/conferences/conventions
- Social media integration
- Digital agenda
- Multi-event support
ON24 is another webinar platform known for creating an immersive digital experience. The digital experiences that ON24 creates boast qualities that are data-driven, scalable, global, integrative with other business software, customizable, and easy to use.
In addition to other features offered for webinar events, ON24 has specified directives that your event can sign on for. For example, they provide services tailored for webcasting or engaging or providing insight (or all of the above).
ON24 is very user friendly and has been used by major players in the events industry and top corporations throughout the world.
Pricing: No fixed prices; customizable depending on the needs.
- Customizable event services
- Responsive customer service