In 2020, the demand for virtual events exploded, and many event organizers got their first good look at what's possible with a fully-virtual event. Exciting as virtual events are, however, there's just no beating the in-person experience. Now that in-person events are possible once more, there's still a lot to be said for keeping some virtual aspects. That's where hybrid events come in!

Picture of two speakers onstage at a hybrid event.

What is a hybrid event?

Hybrid events allow a combination of in-person and virtual attendees to participate in most or all of the event's activities. Often, attendees of both types have access to the same content at the same time. For example, in-person attendees can attend a live session while it's being streamed simultaneously to a virtual audience. Sessions can also be presented to virtual attendees as pre-recorded or semi-live content.

Why should my event go hybrid?

Here at Socio, we truly believe that hybrid is the future of events. Hybrid events combine the benefits of a virtual event with the magic of an in-person event.

  • Widen your audience — Going hybrid opens up your event to the entire world! 🌍 People who otherwise wouldn't be able to attend because of health, financial, or time constraints now have a way to be a part of your event from wherever they are.

  • Build a larger community — Create a Socio Community to complement your event, and keep both in-person and virtual attendees engaged before, during, and after. The Community will let you capture insights, interact with attendees, and surface sponsors all year long.

  • Expand sponsorship ROI — That's right, you can absolutely have effective event sponsorship with a hybrid event, and you're likely to attract even more sponsors through purely-digital sponsorship opportunities! We'll show you how.

  • Expand your speaker list — Like attendees, some speakers may be unwilling or unable to travel onsite. By opening the door to remote presentations, you'll be able to leverage talent that would otherwise not be able to participate.

Organizers are sometimes surprised to learn that the same content and work they've done for in-person can translate fairly seamlessly to the virtual space. There are some points to carefully consider, however.

  • Map your attendee journey — Sketch out all of the touch points, from the time your attendee registers until they receive your post-event survey. Pay special attention to what makes your event special! Do people come for the awesome networking opportunities? What about the curated exhibitors, the stellar training, or the sneak peek product demos of what's to come? Make sure both audiences get the full benefit.

  • Consider both experiences — Now you're ready to consider the experience for both in-person and virtual attendees. To create a unified event experience, you’ll need to account for the needs of both audiences. Adapting your content and experiences to the virtual space can be easier than you think. We're here to help with strategies to keep your virtual audience just as engaged as your in-person audience.

  • Blend virtual & in-person sponsorship offerings — Build sponsorship packages with both your virtual and in-person audiences in mind. For example, perhaps silver tier sponsors receive Socio Lead Retrieval (for in-person), and also attendee call-to-action buttons in their sponsor profile (for virtual and in-person). You can also offer sponsored sessions, banner ads, splash screens, giveaways, notifications, game challenges, and more.

  • Plan staffing and resources — Making your event available in person and virtually may require additional planning and people resources. You may need more moderators to facilitate sessions, safety compliance personnel, as well as tech resources and an A/V team.

  • Pricing — Some hybrid event organizers choose to discount their virtual tickets, particularly when they're first launching the virtual side of their event — but some don't! You know your audience and the value of your offerings best. Consider keeping the virtual ticket cost lower to remain inclusive, but try to incentivize in-person attendance, too.

  • Gamify your event — The Event Game is a great way to engage both your virtual and in-person audience. You can have one game, or a different game for each audience! If you only have one, make sure that all the challenges you create can be completed by both in-person and virtual attendees.

  • Rehearse — Have your presenters do a test run the day before the event, in the same space and using the same technology they'll be using for the real deal. This helps minimize tech hiccups, ensure they know how to engage, and get everyone on the same page. Have staff access the event via the Mobile App or Web App ahead of time to check things out and make sure everything is working the way you want it to.

  • Build in breaks for the virtual attendees — Keep in mind, virtual audiences have more distractions around them, and their attention span may be shorter. We recommend that you keep your content short and targeted, and provide extra breaks for virtual participants.

  • Hire an all-star A/V team — If you have live streams, be very picky about your A/V team. This can make or break your event! You may find a team who's associated with your in-person venue or through references from other organizers. Make sure that you gather references from previous customers, and we highly recommend that your selected team has experience with hybrid events.

    Animated GIF of someone viewing a live stream while answering a Poll and using the Q&A feature.
  • Personalize the experience — Use the Groups feature to ensure that attendees receive the content that's most applicable to them based on whether they're an in-person or virtual attendee, including personalized notifications, discussion boards, and more.

  • Use Video Rooms — Bring your virtual and in-person attendees closer together with virtual icebreaker, breakout, and networking rooms that any attendee can join. Have an in-person cocktail hour or networking session? Set up a few iPads at the venue where in-person attendees can simply step up and start talking to virtual ones in a Video Room! 👋

  • Enhance with Live Display — Live Display isn't just for in-person events! It can also be used as a "commercial" between and after sessions, or as a feature in the Web App. Live Display makes it easy for you to highlight the connection leader board, hold a drawing, showcase the event Game and Wall, grant sponsors amazing visibility and branding opportunities, and more. For more info on Live Display, check this out.

This sounds great! Are there some resources you can point me to?

Absolutely! There's a lot to consider with a hybrid event, but here are a few things we've collected to get you going:

If you want a glimpse at how a Hybrid event might look in the app, tap the button below to download our demo hybrid event!

After the ETT Events app is installed, enter your email address and create your profile. Under Upcoming Events, swipe left or search to find and select ETT Hybrid, then tap Join.

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