July 27, 2021

Hybrid Events: The Not So New Kid on the Block

Virtual events became the norm in 2020. It's not as if virtual events were a new concept, but they were more prevalent due to social distancing restrictions. Now that things are getting back to "normal," a new buzzword has entered the chat, hybrid, specifically hybrid events.

So what are hybrid events? A hybrid event is a cross between an in-person and virtual event. These events have been around for some time but will be the new normal in the events planning space moving forward. 

However, as the Filo.co team talks to customers, we see hesitation around hybrid events. The biggest concern we hear is the anxiety around essentially planning two separate events. Hybrid events can be daunting but also offer countless opportunities:

  • Cost-effective way to increase event participation and reach
  • Gain greater diversity and inclusion
  • Increase revenue
  • Achieve higher engagement
  • Reduce travel
  • More content for dissertation
  • Access to instant feedback

During an industry hybrid event, Tonya Almond, VP of Knowledge & Experience Design at PCMA, stated that a benefit to their hybrid event was the instant feedback from the virtual participants. People shared what they were thinking in the chat. "We don't always get that in-person," she stated.

If you are thinking about planning a virtual event, here are a few things you should keep in mind.

Define what hybrid means for you

First, decide on what hybrid means to you. Define the purpose of the event and why it's needed. It's important that you answer these questions before you start planning the event. 

Hybrid events come in different shapes and sizes. There are hybrid events that are more internal for an organization like sales kickoffs (SKOs) and full team meetings. External hybrid events include seminars, awards ceremonies, conferences and live demos. Is your event for an internal or external audience?

Your hybrid event should not simply be a livestream of the in-person event to virtual attendees.

Provide networking opportunities and engagement

Networking is a significant aspect of all events, whether in-person, online or hybrid. But this very concept stops some people from hosting hybrid events.

However, when you defined what hybrid was for you, was it necessary for the two audiences to engage? When it comes to connection, definitely focus on networking opportunities for in-person participants and virtual participants.

However, there are ways to connect the remote and in-person audiences. One fun and engaging way to facilitate this is through polls. Using services like Slido, you can poll both audiences simultaneously, so the responses are seen together–creating a sense of community for all attendees.

Consider having two hosts

Hybrid events are like twins; they are born from the same idea but are actual individuals with different needs. The in-person and virtual audiences will have different needs and essentially different experiences. It would be best to have a host for each audience which elevates the experience leading to connection. However, the hosts must be equipped with overall knowledge of the event to create a helpful atmosphere.

Recently completing a hybrid SKO, John Moore, VP of Revenue Enablement at Bigtincan, shares a tip.

"We had one person dedicated to coordinating chat in the live meeting with the remote audience. If the remote audience had issues or questions, they raised them in the chat, and the "host" dealt with them live in the room."

Filo is your hybrid event hub

In-person seminar and conference attendees often struggle with which presentations to take part in since most overlap. Luckily with hybrid events, and Filo, each session can be recorded and uploaded for on-demand availability. Audiences can then view missed content at a later time.

Virtual elements don't have to happen simultaneously with the live event. To give the host more focus and control, consider leveraging the already created content, producing an on-demand experience later.

Filo as an active hub after a webinar.

Don't be afraid to try something new

It's okay to feel uncertain about trying something new, but that should not stop you. Step outside of your comfort zone to create new experiences. Innovation comes from charting unknown territories.

We all will see more hybrid events in 2021 and later. It may take some time for planners to figure out logistics, but Filo is here to help you navigate. Let's start a hybrid event together.