What Do Attendees Want in a Hybrid Event?

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As the event industry continues to adapt to a new normal, event professionals have pivoted to hybrid events as a way to bring together a large audience without going over strict capacity restrictions. This change in the standard practice may have you scrambling to come up with an event strategy that works best for your target audience. You may be an old pro at organizing physical events but are at a bit of a loss when it comes to adding digital elements and developing an event program that will keep a virtual audience invested and engaged. [embed]https://youtu.be/2H6vQUmRHW0[/embed] Hybrid events combine in-person sessions with online elements to provide a number of unique benefits to attendees. Not only can hybrid events increase your event reach to a potentially wider audience, but they can also provide evergreen content for your marketing team to use in future event promotion. Hybrid events can provide a solution for attendees that can’t attend in-person and increase overall audience engagement. Hosting a hybrid event is a lot different than hosting a traditional event. But with the right technology and information, there is no reason that you can’t execute one successfully. If you’re putting on a hybrid event, you obviously want the best possible advice on how to do it well from an attendee's point of view. Here are some things that attendees are looking for from a hybrid event model!

Clear, high-quality video

It should go without saying that one of the best and easiest ways to transform any physical event into a hybrid event is by incorporating video. By providing video or filmed elements, the event’s appeal for attendees automatically increases. For in-person attendees, they will be able to access the video after the event and catch up on any sessions they may have missed and, of course, they have the added bonus of potentially catching themselves on screen! However, the video will most benefit the online audience. And viewing video or live-streaming is their only avenue into viewing the event, they will be most dissatisfied if the video quality is poor. Ensuring optimal video quality will require that event planners have the right video equipment, the right streaming services set up, have high-quality wifi on-site, and have properly coordinated videographers with the physical and online schedules. If you are choosing to do Simulated Live, you will need to make sure that the video is being shot with enough time to upload to the virtual event platform to be used for a digital webinar, hybrid conference, summit, or meeting.

Engagement with a virtual component

If you are determined to host a successful hybrid event, then you must know that there is more to it than simply providing a live stream to the conference hall. As an online attendee, seeing only a keyhole view of the venue would be super boring! A remote audience is still an audience and they can provide many benefits to your speakers, to the trade show booth presenters, and to the other attendees. In fact, they will want to “mingle” with all of these people, so you need to present them as present participants who are still trying to connect in meaningful ways. When looking at the hybrid event model, be sure to use a virtual event platform that will integrate the live event elements into the digital experience. Virtual attendees should be able to access live chats, connect with other online and in-person attendees through a personal message, and view trade show booths and presenters up-close and personal! You will also want to encourage your presenters to allot a portion of their presentation to online engagement. If you are going to present this as a webinar-style event, ask that the presenter show up online early and wait a few minutes for everyone to arrive. Then, encourage them to have a question and answer period or live polling where the virtual audience is asked to contribute. This will leave your virtual audience feeling like they are part of the conference or hybrid meeting rather than a widget on a laptop.

Networking opportunities

Well, yes, it may seem surprising but your hybrid event needs to facilitate networking opportunities! The event industry has transitioned to a new normal, with most physical events moving to a fully virtual or hybrid event format. Just because these events are now completely or partially online, it doesn’t mean that the attendees do not want to connect with each other! People attend webinars, conferences, and other virtual meetings in order to gain valuable information and connect with others in their industry. By providing a networking opportunity for your next hybrid event, you will already be at an advantage. Networking can be facilitated by an event platform through segregated networking sessions. For example, book the “Great Hall” as the networking center, so that virtual attendees know they can grab their snacks and coffee and head over there to chat with colleagues or make new friends. The virtual Great Hall can consist of a large live chat that splits off into individualized chats that focus on themes or niches. Onsite attendees can also log in to the virtual Great Hall to engage with the virtual audience, creating an overall better event experience! Encourage personal messaging and ice breaker games!

Dynamic video

When recording a video for the virtual component, be sure to offer more than a static view. Think beyond a tripod set up and get creative. Now, more than ever, event professionals are hiring videographers and videographer teams to shoot video at their corporate or industry events so that the video can be presented later on as event marketing material or as a Simulated Live event. You’ll want to offer your remote audience a dynamic video option. This does not necessarily mean that you should be using guerilla filmmaking style for the entire event, but you can use a handheld to walk through a group of people. This will break up the monotony of watching the same screen as session presenters filter through! To include dynamic video in your event, make sure that you have the right event technology to handle the task and consider hiring a virtual emcee to guide online participants through the footage.

Online surprise and delights

Surprises and delights are so, well, delightful! So why should they be exclusive for those who are attending the live event? You want to offer your online audience a surprise and delight; otherwise, they will feel left out. There will also be less of an incentive to attend the event virtually, even if that is their only option and registration is more affordable than attending in person. Give your virtual attendees a surprise and delight of some sort so that they feel like they are in on the fun and engagement levels remain high.  

Keynote speaker and presenter information provided to the online attendees

As with a physical program, you will want to provide your online guests with as much information as possible about what the keynote speaker, presenter, or trade show exhibitor is presenting and their contact information. Your event will be facilitating a potential connection between the onsite presenter and the online audience. The virtual attendee may want to reach out to that presenter later on and talk to them about their product or service. Facilitate this interaction by providing event participants with ways to connect through virtual chat, downloadable content, and a directory of contacts. Additionally, your event marketers may already be asking for this information so that they can properly promote your event content online and through social media in order to generate interest and ticket sales. Organize this information into a digital pamphlet so it can be printed or posted online.

What Attendees Are Looking for in a Hybrid Event

Be sure to incorporate each of the following virtual elements to ensure that your remote attendees walk away from your hybrid event having had a positive virtual experience:

  • Clear, high-quality video
  • Engagement with online elements
  • Networking opportunities
  • Dynamic video
  • Online surprise and delights
  • Keynote speaker and presenter information provided to the online suite

Throwing a hybrid event is no walk in the park, but if you want to host a successful one, you need to be in-tune with what attendees are looking for. As always, make sure that you have the most updated event planning technology, like Accelevents, so you can host all of these online elements and your hybrid event goes off without a hitch.

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