Even with social restrictions lifting around the world, many attendees and businesses are not ready to fully transition back to in-person events. As a result, hybrid events – a mix of virtual and in-person elements – have become a helpful event planning tactic. But there are still some misunderstandings around what they are, how to produce them, and the benefits they yield. Let’s dive into four myths you should bust before you plan your next hybrid event.
Myth #1: The virtual element will decrease in-person attendance. It’s understandable to think that when given a choice between staying in the comfort of their home or traveling to an event, that most people will choose the former. But the truth is, most attendees will not view a virtual offering as a replacement for attending in-person. Instead, a virtual experience can expand your reach and open it up to attendees around the world. You can leverage this opportunity to invite folks who have been interested in your events but were constrained geographically by in-person only events. And there are still plenty of people who relish the opportunity to join an event in-person and will choose that over the virtual element.
Myth #2: The virtual element can just be a livestream of the in-person event. While technically this would count as a hybrid event, the secret sauce to a truly hybrid event is keeping your audience (both in the room and on the screen) engaged and connected to the experience. You’ll want to think hard, and get creative, about the full experience you provide your virtual attendees. Elements such as chat rooms or exclusive one-on-one experiences with a speaker can be good ways to help your virtual guests feel like they’re in the room.
Myth #3: You can’t provide that “personal touch” to a virtual audience. Facilitating virtual attendance may seem overwhelming, but it is completely doable. You just have to get creative and think differently. Session formats such as a virtual roundtable or a live Q&A session can elevate a virtual experience and help attendees feel engaged and connected. Finding creative ways to enable virtual guests to connect and network with each other, as well as speakers, are surefire ways to keep that virtual element compelling. You can also mail out personalized “thank you” tokens or swag to virtual attendees to ensure they don’t miss out on any of the in-person benefits.
Myth #4: You can use the same tactics to engage virtual and in-person attendees. This is an important myth to bust. If you use the same engagement tactics for both elements, you’ll likely be leaving large segments of your audience out in the cold. Instead, your goal should be: one event, two experiences. Forgetting about, or adopting a “set it and forget it” approach for the online audience, is a common mistake among speakers and event hosts. Consider consistently welcoming and acknowledging both audiences to make everyone feel that they’re a critical part of the event (which of course they are!). You can also help mitigate screen fatigue by including content that has a cinematic feel (think exciting teaser videos) and schedule Q&A sessions or show behind-the-scenes content during breaks so that your virtual audience is never looking at an empty room.
It’s a safe bet to make that hybrid events are not going away any time soon. In fact, we’ll likely see an increase in them as the world responds to ongoing health and safety concerns. But planning and executing a successful and engaging hybrid event doesn’t have to be daunting or complicated. Just be sure you’ve busted any misconceptions – like the ones above – before setting out on your journey.
And if you’re not sure how best to market hybrid events, look no further than InGo! We’re pros at virtual (and in-person) event marketing and have helped dozens of businesses solve their biggest event marketing challenges, drive engagement, and skyrocket attendance. Schedule a demo today to see how we can help you.