Events went digital, but that's not a reason to ditch physical gatherings. Once things get better (and we hope this will happen soon), we'll go back to in-person events and face-to-face interactions. However, the world won’t be the same. After experiencing the real power and outreach of online events, it will be impossible not to leverage this new approach and integrate it into a holistic events strategy.
And although we were familiar with hybrid events before COVID-19, it was an exception rather than the norm. Today, however, we’re more and more certain that we’ll see a strong hybridization of these events in the near future, combining both the physical and digital experience and connecting both in-person and online with attendees around the world.
In case you’re not familiar with this concept, hybrid events represent the synergy of in-person attendance and remote participation. People can choose to travel and attend the event physically or connect from the comfort of their office. However, this type of event comes with its fair share of challenges.
And one of them is to make your event attractive for your virtual attendees. This is a real issue, considering the surplus of online choices and options. When you choose to attend an event in person, you’re 100% committed to it. You need to travel to the location and then spend one or more days surrounded by like-minded professionals. The real value of physical events consists in their immersive experience.
With online experiences, however, things are different. Why choose to attend a hybrid event by connecting through your computer when you can just watch a few YouTube videos of the speakers who were invited? That’s why you’ll need to take extra care of your virtual attendees and showcase the value of the online experiences you’re providing through your hybrid event. To help you do that, we’ve put together a list of tips:
Offer unique online experiences
When running hybrid events, it’s almost impossible to offer the same physical and online experiences. But instead of seeing it as a flaw, you can transform it into a value proposition for your virtual attendees. When planning the event, you’ll want to set aside some time and resources on crafting unique online experiences that will be accessible only to your virtual audience.
For example, you can prepare a live DJ session set that is available only by attending the online version of the hybrid event. Or, you can incorporate different brand activation sessions that can be enjoyed exclusively if you’re a virtual guest. Imagine partnering up with an adult beverage company and designing a special tasting session.
You can send your online attendees a special tasting kit to their homes, and then during the session itself, have a brand ambassador explain all the different tastes and nuances of the beverage while people use their kits to make their own creations at home. It’s a great way to get people to really connect with your brand better and increase their trust in the added value of the online version of the event.
Provide one-on-one networking for your virtual attendees
Networking is one of the main reasons why people attend physical events. But this shouldn’t be the case anymore. There are countless event management platforms that provide B2B matchmaking solutions for hybrid events. The only thing you’ll want to consider is the way you ensure the matchmaking between your attendees. For example, when registering your guests, you can ask qualifying questions (such as interests or areas of activity) and then use this information to guarantee greater compatibility between the virtual attendees who’ll want to have one-on-one business meetings.
Make sure the virtual stage is friendly
Event technology has developed tremendously, especially in the last few months, when the pandemic pushed brands and tech companies to innovate. That’s why the new solutions for online events are much better than before. However, there are certain things you’ll want to think about when choosing an event tech partner, and that’s the friendliness of the virtual stage.
The last thing you want is to push your virtual attendees away by offering them a clunky and confusing online space. Make sure to add value to the online experience by partnering up with the right event tech company that provides a virtual stage that is easy to navigate.
Provide access to the virtual stage before the event
Getting people to register for the online version of your hybrid event is one step. The next step is to keep their interest and actually get them to attend. One way to do this is to open up access to the virtual stage a week before the event. You can add different rooms to the virtual stage and ask your guests to explore them.
Also, you can convince people to fill out their profiles by adding their photos, social media profiles, websites, etc., as well as provide different event-related visual assets, such as a trailer or behind-the-scenes interviews. All these elements will keep your guests’ interest alive and make them feel more determined to actually attend your event.
Communicate the exclusive benefits of attending the event remotely
Finally, there’s no reason in adding value to the online version of your hybrid event if you’re not communicating these perks. Mention all these exclusive benefits in your newsletter, social media copy, and online advertising. This way, people will understand why they should attend the event and be more eager to subscribe.
Running hybrid events can be challenging because of the volume of work that lies ahead. And the last thing you want is to spend countless hours designing the online version of your event only to discover that you have a handful of virtual attendees. To prevent this, add online exclusive experiences people can access only if attending the event remotely. Pack the digital version of your event into an attractive format and communicate its added value. And then, make sure to keep up with your promises and meet people’s expectations.