While hybrid events have been relatively popular in the past half-decade or so, it’s no secret that the COVID-19 global pandemic has further accelerated its popularity throughout 2020 and 2022.
COVID-19 social distancing policies have forced many event organizers to cancel their in-person events and replace them with virtual ones, but soon enough they realized how virtual events do have their own advantages and are not merely replacements for their in-person counterparts.
Both virtual events and in-person events have their own unique advantages, so how can we get the best of both worlds?
The answer is to host a hybrid event.
Are you currently looking to plan your first hybrid event, but don’t know where to start?
You’ve come to the right place.
In this guide, we will discuss all you need to know about how to plan your first hybrid event in 2022, including:
- What actually is a hybrid event?
- Why should you host a hybrid event over a traditional in-person event or a virtual event?
- Advantages and challenges of hosting a hybrid event
- How to create a budget for a hybrid event
- How to maximize attendance on your hybrid events
- And more.
Without further ado, let us begin with this guide right away.
What Is a Hybrid Event?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the term “hybrid’ (hy·brid | \ ˈhī-brəd) means “something that is formed by combining two or more things”.
So what are combined in the case of a hybrid event? In essence, they are physical and virtual.
A hybrid event is hosted both in-person and online by leveraging technology. For example, a conference may be hosted in person in a traditional conference hall, but it is also live-streamed so people who can’t or won’t visit the conference hall can also “attend” the event online simultaneously with in-person attendees.
Why Should You Host a Hybrid Event?
Simply put, to get the best of both worlds.
An in-person event has a major advantage in the form of physical, unique, and personalized interactions. We all know how Zoom meetings can’t 100% replace the intimacy and in-person interactions of a traditional meeting, and the same issue also happens with virtual conferences and other types of virtual events.
In a live, in-person event, for example, attendees can enjoy the amenities served throughout the event, as well as on-site decorations and various entertainments. In a virtual event, we can’t get these unique experiences.
However, virtual events also have their unique benefits. One of the most important benefits is the fact that we are no longer limited by geographical locations, and event organizers can have an increased audience reach by inviting attendees from all over the world. If you want, you can also invite speakers and talents to perform at the event virtually.
Also, virtual events can offer more in-depth, real-time insights and data of the event’s performance, and event organizers can also use various technology solutions to improve the virtual event’s overall experience.
With a hybrid event, we can get all these benefits in a single event.
Specific about the post-COVID-19 situations, hybrid events can offer so many benefits to the event organizer, including but not limited to:
- Allowing prospective attendees that can’t travel to your event’s location to virtually attend the event (for example, due to international travel restrictions)
- Many people and organizations have been financially affected by the global pandemic, and may not be able to afford to travel to your event at the moment
- Allowing you to get more attendees beyond your venue’s max capacity limits (and many venues are forced to lower their maximum capacity limits due to social distancing policies).
- There are many people who simply aren’t comfortable attending events in person just yet, and you can still accommodate their needs by hosting a hybrid event.
Challenges of Hosting a Hybrid Event
While a hybrid event can indeed offer so many benefits, hosting a hybrid event can also be challenging.
The most important thing to focus on when planning and hosting a hybrid event is to make sure both in-person attendees and virtual attendees can have a similar experience without sacrificing one or the other, and this can be easier said than done.
With that being said, here are some key challenges you’ll need to consider when planning a hybrid event: