While hybrid events are very much here to stay, that doesn’t mean that it’s always a seamless transition from in-person events, to online events, to events combining the best of both worlds. The challenges of hybrid meetings make many organizations hesitant to introduce them to their audiences. Still, the good news is that there is plenty you can do to overcome these challenges and support all your attendees, whether they are with you in person or joining remotely. No matter what your concerns may be, here are five ways for you to overcome the challenges of hybrid meetings and events.
Hybrid Event Challenge #1: Planning Two Events
When planning your first hybrid event, it may feel like you’re planning two events: one for in-person attendees and one for online attendees. If you’re not careful, it will indeed feel like two disparate meetings and not a single seamless hybrid event.
Choosing a meeting platform that supports both approaches seamlessly is essential to support a unified event experience, both online and offline. In particular, this means connecting your in-person and remote attendees, both with each other and with the speakers and presenters, to ensure that nobody feels left out and to maintain a high-quality experience across the board.
It’s also important not to go overboard with experimental features at the expense of attendee satisfaction and engagement. Working with a hybrid event planning expert will help you choose the right event technology to support your goals without draining your budget – which is easily done when you first transition to hybrid meetings.
Hybrid Event Challenge #2: Setting Prices for Events
Many event organizers struggle with event pricing when they switch to hybrid events. This is one of the critical challenges of hybrid meetings because you want to ensure that pricing is fair but also reflects the differing experiences of in-person and remote attendees. For example, remote attendees won’t receive any catering as part of their ticket, so they would usually expect this to be reflected in their ticket price.
If this is your main hybrid event challenge, consider using a tiered approach to pricing. This puts the onus on the attendee to decide on the value of a particular event or experience. For instance, you may offer tickets to in-person attendees for $100, with tickets for remote attendees priced at $75. This allows the attendees to choose the event experience that best suits them without isolating any group.
Where prices differ between in-person and online tickets for your hybrid event, it is worth setting out precisely what each event experience entails. For instance, will remote attendees still be able to participate in networking sessions? What catering will be provided for in-person attendees? Being transparent and upfront about what attendees can expect from each experience will make it easier to justify your pricing tiers and for attendees to select the right ticket.
Hybrid Event Challenge #3: Connecting Online and Onsite Attendees.
One of the major hybrid meeting challenges for event organizers is ensuring that online and onsite attendees are equally engaged and included in activities throughout the event. Online attendees won’t be happy if they are excluded from many of the onsite activities, so it’s important to carefully consider your choice of event technology to maximize involvement and increase engagement at every stage of your event program.
Usually, this means paying extra attention to the online experience, which can often feel like a poor substitute for the in-person experience. Working with a hybrid event planning expert will help you leverage your event platform to set up virtual networking lounges, incorporate tablets onsite to ensure a better connection between onsite and offsite attendees, create social media feeds and replicate in-person resources digitally to ensure maximum inclusion.
A key time to consider is meal breaks. If your in-person attendees break for a catered lunch, what will happen to your remote attendees? Instead of presenting them with a blank screen for an hour, perhaps you could create digital breakout rooms for online networking or allow online attendees to book a time to speak with your event’s presenters. This will help you create equal networking opportunities for all attendees.
Hybrid Event Challenge #4: Catering to Different Time Zones
One of the main hybrid event benefits is the ability to open up your event to attendees outside your immediate area, which significantly expands your global reach. However, this brings with it the challenge of catering to multiple time zones.
Of course, your hybrid event timings will be tied to the onsite experience on a practical level. You can’t expect in-person attendees to turn up to your venue at 11 pm to cater to your online global audience! However, there are ways to overcome this common challenge of hybrid meetings.
Running the event at different times over multiple days (for instance, a Monday afternoon and a Tuesday morning) will help you catch more of your global audience at a suitable time. You may also consider running key sessions more than once for remote attendees or creating on-demand sessions that can be accessed when it suits remote employees.
The beauty of hybrid events means that even in-person attendees can attend online when necessary. Many event organizers choose to run live sessions at a time when the most attendees can participate, which may not sync up with your local time zone. If this is the case, anyone outside the target time zone can watch the session at a more suitable time, leave comments, and ask questions ready for follow-up at a later time.
Hybrid Event Challenge #5: Proving Value to Event Sponsors
Hybrid meetings are still a relatively new concept, meaning many event sponsors are unsure of the benefits it may provide them. However, your hybrid events should be presented as a huge opportunity for sponsors to maximize their investment with widespread brand exposure.
Today’s hybrid meeting platforms allow full customization, supporting digital banner displays and realistic virtual booth environments. Online scheduling apps support “virtual matchmaking” for attendees. Opting for both in-person and online experiences means that you can target a much wider audience, which can only be a plus for your event sponsors.
An added advantage to hybrid meetings is that virtual attendee traffic can be more easily tracked and recorded. You can track who visits your “virtual booths,” who clicks on banners, and what content people are interacting with, which provides you with valuable data to pass onto your event sponsors. This helps you turn one of the challenges of hybrid meetings into a powerful opportunity to understand your attendees better and keep your event sponsors happy as an added bonus.
Looking for more tips to overcome the challenges of hybrid events?
Our Ultimate Guide to Hybrid Events reveals how organizations like yours are embracing hybrid event experiences to meet the needs of today’s attendees – no matter where they are.