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 being able to include virtual guests. We explain exactly how this works and what you should pay attention to in this event checklist!
What are hybrid event formats?
Simply put, a hybrid event is a combination of an “on-site event” and virtual offerings that can also be attended digitally. Successful hybrid event formats create a seamless connection between the digital and physical components. This means that the organizers are faced with the challenge of including all participants - whether virtually or on site - so that they can take part in the individual program items and exchange ideas with each other. That might 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. At our tastings we like both physical events and digital events. In the current situation, a combination of both seems exciting to us: even if organizing a hybrid event sounds complicated, it can still be worth it. 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 include illness, (child) care or other challenges. Offering a virtual component in addition to the physical one makes an event much more inclusive. In this way, participants who might otherwise be excluded from the event can take part in the event.
Advantage 2: Hybrid event formats enable more flexibility
Whether you like it or not: Flexibility in event planning has never been more important than it is right now. Corona can throw a spanner in the works not only through immediate restrictions on on-site events. Quarantine regulations, childcare or a simple cold can also make it impossible to take part in an event. With a hybrid approach, participants have completely new options and can also react spontaneously to changes in plans. And 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 it is. However, if you only plan on having a small percentage on site right from the start, you can easily save costs. For example, costs for premises, catering, hotels or travel are eliminated or reduced. If you plan to approach the event hybrid from the start, you can invest the freed up budget in chocolate, for example . #justsaying
A hybrid event also needs to be planned
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 ! That's exactly why we have prepared a small checklist for you. Et voilà:
1. Set your budget
It is of course clear that your event will cost money. And while you can save a lot of money withdigital events , with a hybrid event you have to price in both the virtual version and the on-site event. Fortunately, hybrid events are often still significantly cheaper compared to purely physical events. For example, if you get your budget per person and many of the participants join virtually, you of course have more resources to sensibly link offline and online.
Either way, you should be clear about your budget and costs early on. The largest items from ours are the following:
- Camera & Microphones
- Event platforms
- (Keynote) Speaker (+ travel and accommodation if necessary)
- 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 on sustainable gifts)
2. Consider a hybrid program
In a hybrid event, it is important that you integrate both the people on site and the virtual guests equally well. In order to connect these two - very different - groups with each other, you should look for good connecting points. And unfortunately, one-size-fits-all does not apply here. Instead, you should think carefully about who your participants are and what constitutes successful event participation for them.
3. Includes both on-site participants and virtual participants
Sure, since Corona, on-site events have usually sparked joy and attending an event in person is much more valued than it was a few years ago. And even if everyone taking part on site is very happy, you should still keep certain worries and fears in mind. Above all, despite the Corona relaxation, it ensures that certain hygiene concepts continue to be adhered to and that participants can relax in this regard. In a relaxed and safe atmosphere, participants can 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 are probably all too familiar with these never-ending digital events that have been translated 1:1 into digital format. There is certainly (almost) no one who likes to take part 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 analog and digital?
The essential question of a hybrid event is certainly: How do I manage the balancing act between both types of events?
While on-site participants probably have more time and desire to take part in various program items, digital participants prefer brevity. Instead of translating everything analog into digital, you should consider only displaying selected program items in a hybrid format :
For example, you could offer 6 program items to participants on site, but only 2-4 of them could be translated into the hybrid format. You can record the “analog” components of the event and the virtual participants can access the recording anywhere and at any time. 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.
In the hybrid sessions that all participants have in common, you should focus entirely on interactivity. For example, at our Theo events we use tools like Menti-Meter. These can be used sensibly and entertainingly from the home office, remotely or on site. Try to give both the virtual and on-site audience a similar amount of space for discussion and interaction. 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, it doesn't always 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 already explained in the previous point: Instead of choosing either online or on-site formats, plan a colorful mix. 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”. It's best to plan particularly exciting and interactive program items on site so that the enthusiasm can also come across virtually. This means that 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 to the virtual guests and, for example, doa chocolate tasting together ;-) or do entertaining (free) digital activities . For many activities, a hybrid format – i.e. some participants in meeting rooms and others connected digitally – is ideal. Even if it sounds a bit more complicated at first glance, we have already experienced this at a few tastings! When doing hybrid online activities, be sure to take a team photo ;-) and - if necessary - make sure that all on-site participants also have a digital device to hand so that they can be active in chat groups and take part in digital surveys. In particular, the digital interaction between both groups is crucial for a successful event! Good communication between all participants paired with creative ideas is a guarantee for a great hybrid event.
Even a hybrid event lives from its highlights (Photo by Jaime Lopes on Unsplash )
6. It was nice: The review of your hybrid event
Even though we think the idea of hybrid events is great, we also see the disadvantages. Fortunately, there is also a distinct advantage for 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 might apply to you. Continue to use the content by re-cutting it, re-arranging it and preparing it differently. For example, you can use them to:
- to send them in newsletters or make them available on the intranet;
- Make the content available to your colleagues, customers or partners as training courses ;
- to distribute them as a regular social media series on various networks.
The more creative you become with reuse, the more you will benefit from the hybrid nature of the event. Another advantage of the hybrid event is the additional analysis options. The digital portion gives you significantly more options for evaluating digital data. You can also always insert small surveys where you can collect the satisfaction of the participants and ideas for future events. Based on the data and ideas you have collected, you can then directly develop a data-based plan for your next event.
7. Don’t forget to follow up on your event!No matter what goals you pursued with your hybrid event, a professional follow-up is always a good idea! To ensure that the event remains in your memory 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 be well received:
- Thank you emails : Actually a given and yet this follow-up opportunity is often not used. Make sure you thank everyone who took part 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 would have actually liked to take part in the event. They will probably be particularly happy about recordings of the event and a few kind words!
- Survey follow-up : If it doesn't happen immediately after the event, use the opportunity to ask participants again about their opinion of the event. Especially if it was your first hybrid event, the participants' input is certainly worth a lot!
Our conclusion: Are hybrid events the future after Corona?
The “New Normal” of digital events has likely changed events forever! And even if hybrid events sound complicated and time-consuming, if you take a closer look, they also bring a lot of advantages! In addition, there is the fact that participants will expect more flexibility from organizers in the future due to Corona. And last but not least, no one currently knows when “normal” events will be possible again. So instead of mourning the old days, try to face the challenges and opportunities of the “new normal” and make the best of it. So your event is sure to be a complete success!