Even if Corona no longer plays a major role in the planning of events, the hybrid event has now become firmly established. Hybrid events combine the possibility of an on-site event with the advantage of also being able to involve virtual guests. In this event checklist, we explain exactly how this works and what you should pay attention to!
What are hybrid event formats?
Put simply, a hybrid event is a combination of an “onsite event” and virtual offerings that can also be attended digitally. Successful hybrid event formats create a seamless connection between the digital and the physical components. This means that the organizers face the challenge of including all participants - whether virtual or on site - so that they can take part in the individual program items and exchange ideas with each other. This may sound like a real challenge at first, but a hybrid event offers great advantages...
Advantages that hybrid events offer youWe at Theyo are big fans of (chocolaty) events of all kinds. When it comes to our tastings, we like both physical events and digital events. In the current situation, however, a combination of both seems exciting to us: even if organizing a hybrid event sounds complicated, it can still be worthwhile. Well planned and executed, the hybrid event can combine the best of both worlds. What exactly does that look like? From our point of view, the following advantages are convincing:
Advantage 1: Hybrid events are more inclusive and increase your reach
Corona or not, there are always people who cannot take part in an analogue event for various reasons. Possible reasons are illness, (child) care or other challenges. Offering a virtual component in addition to the physical one makes an event significantly more inclusive. In this way, participants can participate in the event who might otherwise be excluded in the first place.
Advantage 2: Hybrid event formats allow more flexibility
Like it or not, flexibility in event planning has never been more important than it is now. Corona can thwart the plan not only through immediate restrictions on on-site events. Quarantine regulations, childcare or a simple cold can also make participation in an event impossible. With a hybrid approach, the participants have completely new possibilities and can also react spontaneously to changes in plans. And also for the event planners themselves, the flexibility of a hybrid event can mean less stress because you don't have to cancel a physical event at the last minute and look for alternatives.
Advantage 3: You can save costs with a hybrid event
The larger and more extensive the event on site, the more expensive. However, if you only plan with a small percentage on site from the start, you can easily save costs. For example, there are no or reduced costs for premises, catering, hotels or travel. If you plan to approach the event in a hybrid way right from the start, you can put the budget that has been freed up into chocolate, for example . #justsaying
So how do I plan a hybrid event?
This question sounds both challenging and difficult to answer. And at this point we would like to quote Coldplay ;-): Nobody said it was easy ! This is exactly why we have prepared a small checklist for you. Et voilà:
1. Set your budget
It goes without saying that your event will cost money. And while you can save a lot of money withdigital events , with the hybrid event you have to price in both the virtual version and the on-site event. Fortunately, hybrid events are often still significantly cheaper than purely physical events. For example, if you get your budget per person and many of the participants come virtually, you naturally have more resources to meaningfully link offline and online.
Either way, you should be clear about your budget and costs early on. The largest items from our are the following:
- Camera & Microphones
- event platforms
- (Keynote) Speaker (+ possibly travel and accommodation)
- Event highlights (such as achocolate tasting ;-) )
- music and/or other entertainment
- Care packages , give-aways or branded gifts (for the latter we have put together tips for you in terms of sustainable gifts)
2. Consider a hybrid program
With a hybrid event, it is important that you involve both the people on site and the virtual guests equally well. In order to connect these two - very different - groups, you should look for good connection points. And unfortunately the following does not apply here: one-size-fits-all. Instead, for each event, you should think carefully about who your participants are and what makes a successful event participation for them.
3. Involves both on-site and virtual participants
Sure, since Corona, on-site events usually cause joy and participating in an event in person is much more valued than it was a few years ago. And even if the participants on site are all very happy, you should still keep certain worries and fears in the back of your mind. Above all, despite the corona relaxation, it ensures that certain hygiene concepts are still observed and that the participants can relax in this regard. In a relaxed and safe atmosphere, the participants can then network with each other and look forward to the interesting program items.
But don't forget the digital participants in your planning. After the last few years, we all know only too well these never-ending digital events that have been translated 1:1 into digital format. There is certainly (almost) nobody who likes to participate in online events for a long time and without interruption. The following elements offer an alternative: regular breaks, motivating units and forced interactivity. In concrete terms, this means: Compared to the “offline participants”, you have to involve the virtual participants more in active networking.
4. The balancing act of a hybrid event: How do you combine analogue and digital?
The essential question of a hybrid event is certainly: How do I manage the balancing act between the two types of event?
While participants on site probably have more time and desire to take part in various program items, the spice of the digital participants lies in the brevity. Instead of translating everything from analogue to digital, you should consider showing only selected program items in a hybrid way :
For example, you could offer the participants 6 program items on site, but only translate 2-4 of them into the hybrid format. You can, in turn, record the "analogue" components of the event and the virtual participants can access the recording anywhere and anytime. You could initially only give digital participants exclusive access to the recordings before they are made available to a wider audience. It could also make sense to set up Slack channels for the individual recordings, for example, so that the virtual participants also have a space to exchange information about them.
In the hybrid sessions, which all participants have in common, you should focus fully on interactivity. At our Theo events, for example, we use tools like Menti-Meter. These can be used sensibly and entertainingly from the home office, remotely but also on site. Try to leave a similar amount of space for discussion and interaction for both the virtual and the physical audience. At the same time, you can take advantage of both aspects: while you can do creative networking activities with the participants on site, these can be mirrored digitally. Of course, just because the event is hybrid doesn't always mean that they all have to be linked together at the same time. There can be real spaces as well as digital spaces for exchange.
5. The Big Day: Sets hybrid highlights
As explained in the previous point: Instead of deciding on either online or on-site formats, plan a colorful mixture. While key note speakers or exciting panels create a great atmosphere on site and also create a mood across the room, the virtual participants should of course also get their "fair share". So it is best to plan particularly exciting and interactive program items on site so that the enthusiasm is also conveyed virtually. The online participants also have the feeling of being there live.
In addition, you can distribute the participants on site in "break-out rooms", where they can be connected with the virtual guests and, for example, doa chocolate tasting together ;-) or entertaining (free) digital activities . For many activities, a hybrid format – i.e. some participants in meeting rooms and others connected digitally – is great. Even if it sounds a bit more complicated at first glance, we have already experienced this at a few tastings! Be sure to include a team photo for the hybrid online activities ;-) and make sure - if necessary - that all on-site participants also have a digital device at hand to be active in chat groups and take part in digital surveys. In particular, the digital interaction between the two groups is crucial for a successful event! Good communication between all participants paired with creative ideas is a guarantee for a great hybrid event.
6. It was nice: The review of your hybrid event
Even if we think the idea of hybrid events is great, of course we also see the disadvantages. Luckily, there is also a distinct benefit to going the extra mile! Because you can use your recorded content far beyond the event. In particular, you can use the recorded key notes, inputs and highlights for a range of communication activities.
Think about which other usage scenarios come into question for you. Continue to use the content by recutting, reassembling and processing it differently. For example, you can use them to
- send them in newsletters or make them available on the intranet;
- to make the content available as training to your colleagues, customers or partners;
- to distribute them as a regular social media series in different networks.
The more creative you become with the further use, the more you will benefit from the hybrid character of the event. Another advantage of the hybrid event is the additional analysis options. The digital part gives you significantly more opportunities to evaluate digital data. You can always insert small surveys, where you can collect the satisfaction of the participants and ideas for future events. Based on the collected data and ideas, you can then directly develop a data-based plan for your next event.
7. Don't forget to follow up your event!No matter what goals you have pursued with your hybrid event, a professional follow-up is always a good idea! So that the event is remembered well and keeps potential customers or partners in the loop, you should take the opportunity to contact all participants again. The following communication ideas are sure to go down well:
- Thank you e-mails : Actually a matter of course and yet this follow-up opportunity is often not used. Make sure you thank all participants and share not only the highlights but also the best recordings with them. And of course a way for them to stay in touch with you in the long term.
- “We-Missed-You-Mail” : Don't forget the participants who actually would have liked to take part in the event. They will probably be particularly happy about recordings of the event and a few nice words!
- Survey follow-up : If this does not happen immediately after the event, take the opportunity to ask the participants again for their opinion on the event. Especially if it was your first hybrid event, the input of the participants is certainly worth a lot!