Hosting hybrid events offers a lot of good—arguably more so than their either fully live or fully virtual counterparts. But it can be a bit of a struggle to get there, especially if you don’t have access to the proper knowledge, information, tools, or event management platform.

Here, we will give you a rundown of everything you need to know about hosting hybrid events by discussing best practices, common challenges, and effective solutions.

Soon, you’ll be able to traverse the hybrid event space with ease, unify your in-person and virtual audiences, and get the most out of your hybrid event experience.

Why you should consider hosting a hybrid event

Professional digital camera recording video of people watching stage performance at hybrid event

Having gone from an in-person norm to a virtual one seemingly overnight, we’re finally starting to get back to how we once knew the event scene. While returning full-time to the live event format would be great, there are many individuals who have found solace in the virtual format.

The good thing is, there’s a way that can help keep everyone happy. The solution (and the future) is hybrid.

Hybrid events take all the good things about in-person events and combine them with all the greatness offered by the online event format. Of course, you can’t please everybody, but hybrid events are a step in the right direction.

Attendees aren’t the only ones who stand to gain satisfaction from the hybrid model, either. Organizations who host these events can rest easy knowing that benefits like these are on the horizon:

Evergreen content

This type of content stays relevant long after it’s published. In this case, it would stay fresh and engaging after a hybrid event has come to a close; and since the hybrid event format has a considerable online presence, it’s a great avenue to push long-lasting content.

Lowers the barrier to entry

A virtual event is hailed for its accessibility. Hybrid events effectively lower the barrier to entry for an event that would have otherwise been exclusively in-person. This allows people who cannot attend physically the opportunity to still experience the event.

Reduces your carbon footprint

It’s no surprise that virtual events are far more eco-friendly than in-person happenings. You reduce your energy consumption by limiting the number of commuters to and from the event, as well as an overall reduction in energy that a physical venue would otherwise consume. When you choose to go the hybrid route, you still enjoy some of the greener benefits, because it often means that you’ll require a smaller event venue, and not as many people will be traveling to a physical location.

Opportunity to diversify revenue streams

Hybrid events offer a great opportunity to diversify revenue streams without significantly increasing total costs. There are a lot of ways to take advantage of this, but one prime example is selling sponsorship packages.

3 challenges of hybrid events (and how to overcome them)

Process of checking in on a conference congress forum event, registration desk table, visitors and attendees receiving a name badge and entrance wristband bracelet and register the electronic ticket.

While hybrid events do offer attendees the best of both worlds as well as the freedom of choice to experience an event in a way that best suits them, that doesn’t mean that it’s without its challenges.

Here are three common obstacles that may stand in your way of planning and hosting an outstanding hybrid event, along with some strategies and tools on how to overcome them:

1. Bridging the gap between an online audience and a physical audience

When you’re trying to cater to a separated audience, it can feel intimidating to facilitate engagement between the two in a way that feels natural. Thankfully, technology has allowed us to develop comprehensive event management platforms that offer features to help bridge that gap.

If you’ve decided on hybrid for your upcoming and future event formats, leverage a hybrid event platform with the innovative capabilities you need to enable continuous engagement, such as:

  • Advanced presentation features.
  • Seamless collaboration capabilities.
  • High-bandwidth live streaming.
  • Hybrid breakout rooms.
  • Interactive tools like dynamic polling or a live QA session.
  • Event gamification features.

2. The Complexity of planning a hybrid event

Hosting a hybrid event involves a lot of logistical considerations. The right hybrid event platform can simplify this process. Look for a solution that will integrate with the rest of your technology stack, automatically collect physical and virtual attendee data, and streamline your reporting process. With detailed analytics, you can monitor your performance in real time and make calculated adjustments to improve the attendee experience.

3. Driving sponsorship engagement

Sponsors expect results. Event technology empowers you to deliver those results as effectively and efficiently as possible. With an innovative solution at your side, you can direct physical and virtual attendees to your sponsors in several different ways, such as:

  • Sponsored booths (both virtual and physical)
  • Sponsored sessions and games
  • Sponsor profiles in your branded mobile event app
  • Push notifications, splash pages, and banner ads

Building your hybrid event agenda

Building an event agenda is an integral part of the event planning process—and maybe even more so for hybrid events. When your audience is divided into two different segments, in-person and virtual, there’s more room for hiccups, misunderstandings, and communication breakdowns.

Building an all-inclusive hybrid event agenda will help keep everyone on the same page by outlining important times of events, meetings, breaks, and more.

Here are some key considerations to be mindful of when developing your hybrid event agenda:

  • Different time zones
  • Content breaks
  • Session duration
  • Audience interaction
  • Networking opportunities
  • Pre-recorded content

Hybrid event best practices

Speaker giving a talk at business meeting hybrid event

Pre-, mid-, and post-event best practices require preparation, execution, and follow-up that’s intentional and planned for.

In reality, your event “starts” long before showtime and ends long after everyone has gone home—there’s a lot of work to be done in those gaps. So, here are some best practices that can help you succeed in preparing for, hosting, and wrapping up your next hybrid event.

Before the event

Lots of planning and prep work goes into each hybrid event to ensure that it’s fruitful for everyone involved. Beyond clear communication to keep everyone on track leading up to the event, here are a couple of other important things to do:

  • Set a budget and establish your goals. You should be well aware of the budget that you have to work with before you start the planning phase. Your budget will impact things like planned activities, event capacity, your event management platform, and more.
  • Create buzz around the event. Hosting a hybrid event isn’t an excuse to slack on marketing, in fact, you may have to put some additional effort into creating a buzz around the event so that more people are aware of it. 

During the event

While the event is rolling, you still have a responsibility to keep up with everything that’s happening and make yourself available to speakers and other guests for support, all the while encouraging engagement from your physical and remote attendees. It can feel overwhelming, but with the right tools, it all becomes a little easier. Here are some considerations to keep in mind during the event:

  • Host speakers at the venue if possible. The benefit of hosting a speaker at the venue is that it’s much easier to live stream the speech to a virtual audience while still allowing the live audience the pleasure of listening in a physical event space. So, host your speakers in person if it makes sense to do so, and stream them to your remote audience.
  • Prepare speakers in advance. For a lot of event types, speakers make up a significant portion of the goings-on. Make them feel at home and comfortable by getting them prepared in advance so that they can deliver a killer speech to the live audience as well as the virtual one.
  • Encourage engagement on social media. Encouraging engagement on social media during the event is a must. This will help boost both physical and virtual attendee satisfaction and facilitate networking opportunities. It’s also a great tactic for bread-crumbing information for post-event follow-up and evergreen content strategies.
  • Keep an eye on real-time data. An event management platform that offers real-time data analytics will help you keep a finger on the pulse of the event. You’ll be able to discern trends, lulls, and highs, and pivot your strategy accordingly to either encourage or amend certain situations.

After the event

When the event wraps up, it’s not necessarily over. There are lots of things that you can do to keep event attendees engaged and nurture leads, as well as things to debrief about in order to help you better plan for your next event. Here are a few suggestions of things you can do post-event that will help you stay relevant and design your next experience:

  • Repurpose content. Event content is valuable and shouldn’t be wasted. Repurposed and evergreen items can (and should) be put to use after the event comes to a close, which can help increase attendee engagement and interest, and nurture leads more meaningfully.
  • Analyze the event’s success and report ROI. Advanced reporting features make it easy to view, collect, and report on analytics from your event. This is an integral best practice as it can help prove the event’s worth to stakeholders and act as a reference point when planning future events.
  • Continuously engage your attendees. Using social media or integrated community hubs on a virtual event platform after things have ended is a great way to keep people engaged. Facilitating a post-event community is beneficial in myriad ways, but the most notable have to do with lead nurture, conversions, and keeping people informed.

For many, hybrid events are the future—and the absolute best option for any corporate gathering. Say yes to accessibility and consider hosting your next event across physical and virtual mediums.

Hybrid events are your best bet to encourage greater attendance, increase accessibility, and please a larger number of attendees—but it doesn’t necessarily come easy. Request a demo today and discover how Webex Events can streamline your event experience to ensure a successful hybrid event.