A hybrid event can boost your event reach and audience engagement by providing an avenue for attendees to not only attend in person but to attend from the comfort of their own home, and from anywhere in the world.
If you have or are considering pivoting your live event to a hybrid one, it is important to do your research and identify how much your hybrid event will cost so you can price tickets accordingly.
Hybrid meetings and events contain elements of both physical events and virtual events, but this does not necessarily mean that your costs will double. It likely just means that you will be sourcing materials for two different types of events.
Here’s the breakdown on how to price your hybrid event:
Pricing the Physical Event Elements
A hybrid event has all of the components of a physical event. In fact, the size of the live elements can be quite large and are only limited by your event budget, venue capacity, and any local gathering restrictions.
If you are a seasoned event organizer, you are most likely familiar with the typical cost of physical event rentals and bookings. However, if you are not, note that actual costs will vary greatly depending on your region and the events industry standards.
Having said all that, here are items that you’ll need to budget for in terms of pricing your physical event elements:
- The cost of the venue, including square footage of the venue spaces in use
- Event technology assets and AV equipment rentals
- An event planner or manager fees
- Event marketing
- Miscellaneous (i.e., potential city fees, added overhead associated with the venue, or decor)
While the costs associated with your physical event will range depending on the geographical location of the event, one cost analysis estimated that a physical event like a career fair can total almost $30,000 USD for an estimated 300 guests.
Additionally, with the rise of COVID-19, your event might require a venue with GBAC STAR Facility Accreditation, which could raise miscellaneous costs for the physical portion.
Pricing the Virtual Event Elements
The virtual elements of a hybrid event will include all the typical virtual event components, as well as possible add-ons like a videographer to capture the in-person audience experience. This means that in addition to using more technologies, you’ll need to consider hiring more staff or expanding your event team.
Here are some positions that might need to be filled for high-quality event production:
- A project manager or event planner assistant
- Virtual emcee (to host the remote broadcast)
- Director for technology and virtual components
- Social media moderator
- Specialized Tweeter
- Cameramen (potentially 1-10, depending on the number of sessions and rooms)
- Tech to manage audio, video, and VGA (potentially 1-5, depending on the number of sessions and rooms)
- A/V tech for in-house signals and remote audience (one tech for each)
In addition to the added personnel, you will have to consider renting the proper tech. You might be able to find tech rentals and personnel by using a media firm, but the different capabilities of that firm as well as their ability to adapt to the hybrid experience will vary and you might not know what you can expect.
Additionally, you’ll need the following equipment to ensure a successful hybrid event:
- Cameras (2-20 depending on the rooms and number of camera angles)
- Tripods (the same number of cameras, most likely)
- Riser (to elevate the tripod, will depend on the camera angles)
- Studio microphones that are linked to the remote stream and not the house sound
- House microphones
- Hybrid event platform, which is usually capable of live streaming, uploading videos, hosting and storing video, social media integration, and engagement with remote attendees
- Hosting server for storing and hosting video (which might come with the event software)
- Media player (if not handled by event software)
- Cables and connectors
- Potentially a staged studio, depending on how the set up is and if an interview or live broadcast is happening
- Various webcasting gear
The virtual components of a hybrid event can vary widely, and can easily get out of hand. If you just want to keep it simple and video each session, then you can post up a camera on a tripod and connect that feed either live or pre-recorded through your streaming platform. If you want to run a Simulated Live event, then you can set up recordings and you don’t need to worry about the live stream component.
However, to maximize virtual attendee engagement, chances are that you will need to step the event up a bit by providing a virtual emcee, a videographer with multiple video angles, and two types of audio feeds.
Estimated Cost Savings for Event Planners and Event Attendees
When hosting a hybrid event, event planners expect to incorporate a decent amount of virtual elements into a live event space. Therefore, while both elements are included, the event organizer must decide on where to give and where to take.
For example, when considering the new normal for the industry as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, physical event sizes are restricted meaning the physical event will not be able to breach a capacity in the hundreds. Therefore, event planners can expect that physical attendees will range from 50 to 100 people, depending on the jurisdiction allowances and when the event is likely to occur.
With fewer live attendees, an event planner can consider using a fraction of a typical budget in almost every area. If only 100 guests are allowed and you typically host 300, ⅓ of the usual costs can be applied to physical components. You will only need ⅓ of the venue size, staffing numbers, parking allotment, and hospitality.
This allows you to shift money and apply more of your budget to the virtual components. Technology and AV equipment rental costs will be higher, and you may have to hire a videographer and virtual emcee, take additional set up time for staging and pay for server hosting and webcasting gear.
Additionally, event marketers will want to keep promotion relatively high to capture a vast online audience. We do not recommend cutting your event organizer fees as planning a hybrid conference or event is a specialized skill and your expertise will be extremely valuable.
Budgeting for Your Hybrid Event
Pricing your hybrid event means having a proper grasp of your budget. Carefully break down each line item so you can understand what the event will cost and what you should charge.
Here’s what you need to consider when budgeting your hybrid event:
Know the numbers
Your budget will certainly be regulated by the number of attendees that you are expecting to attend in-person as well as the anticipated online attendees that will make up the remote audience.
Since physical events are limited to certain sizes based on the geographical location, budgeting the physical portion of your audience is relatively straightforward.
However, budgeting for a wider virtual audience might be more difficult. If you’re unsure about the online numbers or the rate at which attendees will tune in to your hybrid event, you’ll need to be smart about how the event is marketed to ensure you are reaching interested individuals and have the capacity in place to deal with high traffic volume.
Take the time to sit down and look at what money is coming and where it is being spent. While the revenue generated from ticket sales will be variable, you will have a number of fixed expenses and incomes. Sponsorship revenue and venue costs, for example, are likely to remain constant.
Once you have a firm grasp on these numbers, you can focus on your ticket pricing strategy.
Consider the perceived value of your hybrid event
If the value of your virtual components is extremely high, you can set a decent ticket price for the virtual-only component. Live and pre-recorded content offer the same educational value as they do in person, and they can be added to a resource center that both virtual and physical attendees can access long after the event is over. There is definitely value in that!
Think about what you are offering your attendees, how your attendees (both in-person and online participants) will apply the information in their careers or personal life, and whether or not your event offerings are provided in another capacity.
Additionally, an event app can be incorporated so that those in-person attendees can access some of the virtual experience while attending physically.
It is important to convey this value in any marketing material as people initially perceive virtual events as being less valuable than their physical counterparts.
Scalability is your friend in this scenario. It would be detrimental to plan for a massive virtual audience if you a) cannot create a professional-looking production, b) can’t dedicate enough funding to marketing, or c) can’t pinpoint your target audience.
Start with a conservative budget and then ramp up spending for things like marketing and media depending on ticket sales and audience response.
At the very least, choose a virtual events platform that can easily be scaled to accommodate growing registrations.
Consider your baseline costs and calculate the lowest number of registrations required to break even. Calculate the spend based on batches (i.e., every 10 attendees or every 50 attendees) and scale up as the batch sizes increase.
Consider ticket tiers
Ticket tiers are an important part of any online event registration and ticketing strategy.
Tiers allow audience members to decide their own event experience. Consider offering low admission tickets for specific sessions and then provide a tier that, for just a few dollars more, will give the ticket holder access to some or all of the event. A VIP ticket tier can allow virtual attendees access to fireside chats, Q&A sessions, or exclusive access to your event speakers.
Adding networking sessions to your event ticketing can provide even more value and allow for a higher ticket price.
Because virtual attendees do not have to pay for travel or accommodation, they may be willing to pay a premium to attend your event if the proposed content meets their interests and needs.
Consider offering early bird tickets so you can gauge early interest in the hybrid event and adjust your marketing and ticketing strategies accordingly.
Pricing Your Hybrid Event
If you want to run a successful hybrid event, you will likely need to employ a number of event professionals, and a virtual event platform like Accelevents, to ensure that both the physical component and the virtual component are high-quality productions.
Pricing your hybrid event might be difficult and it will depend on the size of your event and the number of physical and virtual elements involved.
If you understand your event budget and your venue and technology capabilities, there is no reason to reduce your ticket price. Create event components that speak directly to your target audience, make sure the value proposition is clear, and you’ll see your attendance numbers rise accordingly!