Video camera recording a live business event with people sitting on a stage.
A great hybrid event offers elements that satisfy all audiences, both virtual and in-person. — Getty Images/izusek

Hybrid events are becoming more common, thanks to tools and technology that enable event hosts to reach a wider audience both online and in-person. As these events become more popular, business owners are getting creative with the ways in which they engage digital and in-person attendees.

The key to a great hybrid event is finding a way to incorporate both in-person and virtual elements to satisfy all audiences and create a cohesive online/offline experience. The best hybrid events aren’t just a livestream of an in-person gathering: Hybrid events need to integrate digital spaces and physical interactions in a way that satisfies everyone. Here are a few ideas to help you find inspiration.

[Read more: How to Host a Hybrid Event]

Create an exciting atmosphere

As with any event, you want people to talk about what they experienced long after the event is over. Think beyond a camera pointed at a stage and use intro music, editing, and lighting to create an exciting atmosphere for everyone.

For instance, Apple has been using hybrid events to announce new products for years. Apple Events uses a combination of visually stunning landing pages, curated video streams, and the occasional live address from CEO Tim Cook to create an immersive experience. Consider investing in professional branding and production to create a visually rich and engaging environment.

Bring your online community together offline

For small businesses that work with remote customers, or brands that are primarily digital, designing an experience that enables in-person connection can be a big bonus. Hybrid events aren’t only for your customers, either. They’re also well suited for remote-working teams that are distributed all over the world.

For remote companies and digital brands, creating the online aspect of a hybrid event is often the easiest part. Consider how your online brand can translate IRL. For example, TwitchCon is an event for Twitch gaming fans to meet in person, cosplay their favorite game characters, and network with gaming partners from all over the world. It brings a community together to play (online) games offline and celebrate the things that make the brand so special.

[Read more: Returning to Live Events: How to Get Started Planning One]

Partnering with other local businesses can help draw in new attendees and show your support for the wider community.

Create space for smaller interactions

Large in-person conferences can feel overwhelming, whereas online conferences often feel isolating. Technology can help tackle both of those challenges.

#FinCon21 was an event for influencers, bloggers, and thought leaders creating digital personal finance content. The conference offered a wide variety of in-person exhibits, live podcasting, and video booths, as well as online chat rooms, digital recordings, and livestreams from the main stage. But what made it so successful was that there were tons of smaller breakout spaces for online and offline attendees.

“At #FinCon21, just as in-person attendees can engage in small group discussions and meet-ups, the virtual audience will be able to interact with in-person attendees via chats and video calls, driving seamless engagement between the event’s hybrid audiences,” wrote Webex.

Look for ways your conference or event can bring people together for 1:1 interactions, so people feel connected no matter how they attend your hybrid event.

Leverage different payment tiers

Think about how you might tailor different levels of access to different audiences. Just because someone is viewing a session online doesn’t mean you should offer it for free. But if you do charge for content, how can you create value for every attendee?

Gainsight Pulse offered a hybrid event in 2021 with in-person and online ticket options, as well as different paid tiers.

“Free tickets got you access to the sessions, booths, networking, and keynotes. Paid experiences unlocked perks such as a swag store voucher, [and] access to VIP fireside chats. They also offered a virtual speed networking feature to mimic the spur-of-the-moment conversations that happen at in-person events,” wrote Vimeo.

Events are a great way to foster customer loyalty. And, for customers who have been supporting your brand for years, it’s also a good way to say thank you. Consider rewarding your loyal customers with premium access, or using payment tiers to incentivize people to continue engaging with your brand. Events create a lot of content, so you can find multiple ways to benefit from it.

Partner with other local businesses

Hybrid events require a lot of effort and planning. The good news is you don’t have to do it alone. Partnering with other local businesses can help draw in new attendees and show your support for the wider community.

Take inspiration from The New Yorker Festival. This hybrid event offered a “Dining In” experience to residents of New York City’s five boroughs. Dining In tickets provided meal delivery, plus access to a virtual conversation featuring the chefs who prepared your meal. In this way, The New Yorker was able to support local restaurants, keep residents socially distanced, and still provide a unique, cultural experience.

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Published May 02, 2022