By Carolyn Dorf, CMP, Senior Events Associate
What does engagement look like post-Covid? As restrictions ease, many organizations grapple with hosting events entirely in-person or offering guests the convenience of a hybrid experience. While some are clamoring for live interactions, others enjoy the flexibility, cost savings, and increased accessibility that hybrid events offer.
Results from a national survey of event planners determined that over half of their events for 2023 were hybrid. These remote offerings were once thought of as the less engaging option, but sound planning provides a pathway to creating experiences that captivate and reflect the mission of your organization while providing meaningful connections to your most important audiences.
Keep in mind—these events are more complicated to execute than you might think. Consider these factors if your organization is thinking of producing a hybrid event:
Increase AV equipment costs.
Hybrid events require more camera set-up in the back of the room. A high-quality, engaging hybrid event can require multiple cameras to capture the stage and in-person audience, screens to stream in speakers and virtual attendees, and all audio has to be captured through a microphone to ensure virtual audiences can hear. You may need a robust streaming platform, especially if you are streaming from multiple rooms simultaneously. Depending on the venue, you may have to purchase premium wifi to ensure no glitches or buffering issues. Increasing your AV budget is a good idea if you are considering a hybrid event.
Increase staffing needs.
Many hybrid events require multiple staff resources. Ideally, you need a staff member(s) to oversee the virtual side and another staff member(s) to oversee the in-person side. As you plan your event, ensuring that you have enough staff resources with the bandwidth to do a hybrid event is critical. Otherwise, we suggest hiring outside support.
Engage in-person and virtual attendees.
A successful event is one where all attendees are engaged. Participation in a virtual vs. in-person event is very different, and it can be challenging to engage both equally. Virtual attendees can feel like spectators rather than fully engaged participants if the event is predominantly in-person. There are ways to mitigate this issue, like having a dedicated virtual emcee or a mix of virtual and in-person speakers. As you build your agenda, think about the engagement needs of all your attendees.
Ensure selected venue can achieve a hybrid event set-up.
In the early stages of venue selection, inquire about accommodations for a hybrid set-up. Here are a few specific questions: Is the room big enough to meet your group size, and any extra equipment needed to host a hybrid event? Will the venue provide staff and equipment for a hybrid event, or will you need to hire an outside vendor? Does the venue have experience in hosting hybrid events? These questions will help you determine the proper space to host your event.
Hybrid events can be challenging to execute, but our team’s expert knowledge of event planning, marketing, communications, and education will:
- Assist you in finding meeting space and vendors that meet your hybrid event needs.
- Research and procure streaming and event technology.
- Develop creative ways to engage virtual and in-person audiences.
- Create agendas and marketing materials to reach a broad, global audience.