Like many other business sectors, the event industry was heavily impacted by the 2020 global pandemic. As a result, organizations lost projected revenue, retrenched staff and had little or no income to keep their business running. However, human resilience came through eventually, leading to innovation in the industry that birthed Hybrid events. Although some of these innovative virtual event solutions aren’t new, they were always only considered backup options by event organizers, managers and organizations.
Businesses had to adopt virtual events like webinars, online training, virtualized AGMs, Keynote speeches and conferences as a more practical option. However, virtual events didn’t cut it for many due to the nature of their events. Most people considered it as challenging and very limiting.
These views have led to a new format of events; rather than going virtual only, hybrid events were introduced, and this innovative way of hosting events shows several opportunities for success. While hybrid events can enable event organizers to attain new heights, reach a new audience and maximize profits, the big question is how? But first, let’s take a look at what a hybrid event is, the benefits, examples to inspire you and how you can pull off a successful hybrid event.
What Is a Hybrid Event?
A hybrid event is an event that combines the virtual and in-person experience components of event hosting. It blurs the lines of having either an in-person or online-only event. A hybrid event gives organizers, event managers and organizations the avenue to reach a wider and more engaged audience.
It involves a physical meeting where an online audience also participates. It differs from streaming your sessions from a device or sharing an 0n-video demand after your event. In an extraordinary hybrid event, physical and virtual attendees can participate, provide feedback and remain highly engaged.
Different types of events can benefit from adopting the hybrid event strategy; some include meetings, annual general meetings (AGMs), town hall meetings, forums, conferences, trade shows, book launches, product launches or demonstrations and trainings.
Benefits of Hybrid Events
Whatever your reasons are for hosting a hybrid event or considering hosting one, there are many benefits to choosing to do so. Here are some of the many benefits of hybrid events; they include:
- Access to a Larger Audience: Hosting a hybrid event enables you to reach more people while retaining elements of both virtual and in-person events. With the aid of the internet, more people can participate in and attend trade shows, conferences, boot camps, and training.
- More Revenue: Hybrid events have the potential to generate more revenue because it is structured to have a global reach based on your event. With the proper marketing implemented for your event, participants could sign up and attend from anywhere worldwide.
- Reduced Costs: When you compare what it costs the host of an event and participants to attend formal events that are not hybrid, you will automatically realize that the reduced cost nature of hybrid events benefits both the event host and guests. Hybrid events enable event organizers to maximize their budgets for better results and investment returns.
- More Flexibility: Hybrid events are more flexible than traditional or virtual events because they can easily fit into the participant’s schedule, especially when their location would have hindered their availability.
- Increases Engagement: It helps event organizers to ensure better engagement from event participants regardless of their personality types. People who are shy of speaking in public gatherings can ask questions or share insights via different apps, some of which permit their anonymity.
- Maximized Partnerships: With the aid of technology, hybrid events present better reach and ROI for event partnerships and sponsorship. The audience reaching for such events is broader and more beneficial than in virtual-only or in-person-only circumstances.
How to Organize a Hybrid Event
Set Your Goals: The first step to organizing a successful hybrid event is to set clear goals or objectives. A clear understanding of what your client wants to achieve will enable you to plan better, create a budget and execute more effectively.
Choose Your Team: According to a famous African proverb, “if you want to go fast, you go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.” It underscores the importance of successfully choosing the right team to plan and execute a hybrid event. Your team should be made up of professionals with the knowledge, experience and background in planning both traditional and digital events.
Choose Your Venue: A primary concern to address when choosing your venues for a hybrid event is ensuring that the location is easily accessible for the guest participating physically. Make a checklist of all the event venues where you wish to host your event, ensure they have experience with hosting hybrid events, can provide support, and offer other relevant services that would ensure a successful event. If you are hosting a hybrid event in Lagos, you must ensure that the venue guarantees a backup power supply and high-speed internet and provides other support you would need for the success of your event.
Plan Your Event: Having a more detailed approach and implementation leads to hosting a successful event. At this stage of organizing a successful hybrid event, you must have identified your venue and the event date developed event content and master plan and begun implementing your event marketing strategy. Hence, it is advisable to have an event project planning process or software to ensure “no stones” are left unturned for the event’s success”.
Conduct a Test Run: Carrying out a test run is crucial to hosting a successful and error-free hybrid event. Conduct your event test run in ample time to enable you to fix any errors that may occur; it’s often advisable to do this 48 hours or more before the event date. During the test run, some of the things to take note of include but are not limited to sound, visuals, event flow, content, audience engagement, a software application(s) and many more.
Anticipate Challenges and Mitigate Them: Like all things in life, it’s better to anticipate challenges, and they don’t occur, than to not plan for them and be met by surprise. Therefore, have a contingency plan to manage challenges ahead of time. For example, you should have a backup internet service provider to ensure that the experience of your virtual guests for the hybrid event is not affected by poor internet connectivity on the set date.
Some Hybrid Events Examples
In Nigeria, hybrid events are quickly adopted by organizations in the private and public sectors. The Lagos State government has recently announced its plans to host a world hybrid tourism event. The 2020 Insurance Professionals Forum Nigeria, as disclosed by the association’s body, are just a few examples in Nigeria. Let’s take a look at some other examples of top hybrid events across the world.
- Apple Incorporated Events: Apple’s Inc. “Apple Special Events” is a hybrid event by the successful tech-giant company. The Apple Special Event is where all the company’s latest devices, software updates and new products are unveiled officially to its global fanbase and customers. It offers Apple an avenue to create excitement and conversations before these devices are available for order.
- Google I/O: This annual developer conference held by Google and I/O stands for input and output and Innovation in the Open. The event also features keynote speeches, G, Google’s product announcements and software updates.
- Open Source Festival: The maiden edition was a forum for networking, discussions, and ideas peroration around the latest happenings in technology, as well as the growth of the open source community in Africa. The Open Source Festival was a highly successful hybrid event that attracted developers, designers, corporate organizations, and student delegates. It featured over 2900 physical and virtual delegates across different continents. The hybrid event had a series of talks, workshops, and awareness of open-source developer tools. The Open Source Festival was held at The Zone; our high-speed internet and equipment for live streaming ensured online delegates stayed engaged for 3 days, and our team of hybrid event specialists provided full event coordination.
- Facebook Testaton: Testaton is a hackathon for app testers. The Facebook Testaton event, which was held at The Zone, featured 200 Testaton guests, with 150 Testaton delegates physically attending and 50 joining through virtual means. Our hybrid event solutions team managed the entire event coordination. At the same time, a hitch-free virtual delegate experience was made possible by our high-speed internet and live-streaming equipment for two days.
- Concatenate Conference: The conference is a free coding conference for African developers. Topics discussed range from frameworks to design systems and performance to animation. We provided the venue, fast internet, live streaming equipment, and complete event coordination for the latest event, with over 2000 virtual conference delegates and an additional 3000+ physical delegates attending. The Concatenate Conference lasted for 3days and was a successful attempt at bridging the gap between Nigerian developer conferences and international ones.
Looking for a facility to host your hybrid events? The Zone is the right place for you; our facility is located in Gbagada with easy access to Lagos Island and Mainland, situated in a convenient, accessible and serene location. Power, fast-speed internet, and the right team to help you host a successful event are a walk-in-the-park at The Zone.