With many hybrid events requiring separate virtual and in-person programming to ensure a pleasant and interactive experience for every audience, planners are forced to think outside the box. At the recent ESSENCE culture Festival, for example, the hybrid event offered its online attendees an immersive 3D environment for exploration and networking. More: how the ESSENCE Festival returned to New Orleans with a hybrid event
The expectation, not unrealistic, was that after the start of 2020, the New Year would be significantly better for everyone, including planners. The reality, a few months after 2021, is that as the industry begins the healing process, the groups continue to try to make meetings attractive and productive-without losing their shirt in the process.
Personal events remain a minefield: Some planners don’t know how to get attendees to attend personal events, especially if their market is still largely locked down. The virtual works well in certain situations, but it still lacks the intimacy of personal events. This leaves hybrids that can make it difficult to make profits or simply break because of their virtual and personal planning and execution. Here’s how to return a new linen with Hybrid events.
Rethink your game plan.
Hybrid and virtual meetings aren’t new concepts, but they weren’t tested until last year’s recent times forced planners ‘ hands (and portfolios) to make a quick calculation. “Ultimately, it’s hard to connect a virtual audience with a personal audience for a hybrid event,” says Kristov Martens, co-founder and chief business officer of Montreal-based Matchbox Virtual Media. For many groups, and in practice, hybrid meetings are still theoretical, he adds, because ” face-to-face meetings are banned in much of the world at the moment, so there is no opportunity to test things.”
However, rethinking what “hybrid” means to a group can be a good starting point before testing the water. “When planning, it’s important to consider the user experience for each stakeholder,” Martens explains. For example, a successful hybrid, both in terms of content and revenue, can offer separate, dedicated sessions and experiences for their respective audiences in person and virtually, and then use mixed content to collect them. Another option: create a smaller virtual event before a large personal meeting. This will help generate enthusiasm for the latter, prepare participants for the most important topics and discussion points, and could give sponsors and exhibitors profitable options to buy one or both events. Finish with a third virtual event to strengthen networking, consolidate key points, and plan the next steps in your community.
Hybridization can also extend further to the meeting calendar itself by planning and budgeting hybrid events based on the goals and climates that enable outdoor meeting space. “There are really many different methods that can be used here,” says Martens.
Define what “success” means for your event.
Finding yourself in the dark is a measure to judge a hybrid winner,but given the recent times’s ambiguous roadmap, it’s not the only one. The main goal of the business conference in January and the opening of the State of Missouri REALTORS, for example, was to “help our members make connections and work to advance the real estate industry’s current problems,” says Maria Davis, director of meetings and relationships with the group’s partners. Due to the recent times, Davis and his team started planning their very first hybrid event a little after, but fulfilled their mission despite financial delays. “We knew that our audiovisual costs would be significantly higher than at previous conferences,” says Davis. Brand masks, hand sanitizers, and behavioral recall signage also increased spending. On the savings side, Davis was able to reduce the cost of hotel rooms, transportation, and food and sup. They met with 378 participants-197 in person at St.. Louis Hilton and 181 practically-for what Davis calls determined success. “This January,” she says, ” has given us a better orientation for all areas of the conference.”