A couple years into the pandemic, the world has slowly but surely adapted to the digital space. Businesses, networking, and life itself has moved online and the virtual event industry has been a saving grace that kept events afloat. As time goes by, things are starting to revert to the way they were before the pandemic. Restrictions are easing up and businesses are cautiously optimistic about hosting live events again.
Merging the best of virtual and in-person events, hybrid events,the new kid on the block is disrupting the business world and redefining events as we know it. These events are more flexible and inclusive and are perfect for organizing meetings, conferences, expos, festivals, concerts and more.
In this article, we will explore what hybrid events are, the difference between hybrid and virtual events, different types and 5 hybrid event examples that’ll prove they are the future.
What does hybrid events mean?
Hybrid events combine the connection of face-to-face interaction and the convenience of virtual audience joining in from anywhere to create a cohesive experience.
A part of the audience attends the event in person while the other portion participates online and are brought together seamlessly on a hybrid event platform. The biggest challenge a hybrid event faces is blending virtual and in-person audience by merging digital and physical components while airing an event.
The live audience can go to the workshops, interact with other participants, network with the speakers and be at front and center of all the action. It takes meticulous planning, technical equipment, good internet connection and the right hybrid event software to replicate the same experience in the virtual realm. A successful hybrid event ensures both types of participants benefit from the same experience, especially when it comes to consuming content, networking, activities and discussions.
Virtual vs hybrid events: What’s the difference?
What differentiates a virtual event from a hybrid event is that it is completely online. It could be a livestream coupled with pre-recorded content to engage the online audience.
When it comes to hybrid events, the event takes place at a physical location and a part of the audience is present at the venue. It is streamed to the online audience and they can interact with the live audience, sponsors, and exhibitors. Hybrid event platforms are highly recommended to integrate the online audience with the live event and make it a cohesive experience.
Different types of hybrid events
Hybrid events are quite flexible and can be adapted to different types of meetings, announcements, and events both within and outside the business. Based on the audience it is for, hybrid events can be broken down into two types – internal and external.
Internal Hybrid Events
These events are meant for people who work within the company such as employees, leadership, and other staff. The employees might be scattered across different locations and internal hybrid meetings and events bring them all under one roof. The location of the event is typically the company’s headquarters and is live streamed to members across the globe. Here are some examples of internal hybrid events:
- Internal training
- Global town halls
- Sales meetings
- Company spirit weeks
External Hybrid Events
External events are held for customers, prospective leads and clients. Switching live external events to a hybrid one can help you reach a wider, more diverse audience. External events that can be hybridized are:
- Trade shows
- Product product launches and demos
5 Hybrid event examples that knocked it out of the park
Now that we’ve covered the basics, we move on to the brands that made the headlines with their hybrid events. Wondering how to create the same magic? We’ve compiled 5 best in class hybrid event examples to inspire and help you host your very own hybrid event.
Apple Special Events
Apple has always been miles ahead with their technology and their events are at the forefront by setting audience records. Whenever Apple announces a launch, the anticipation among millions of fans, tech enthusiasts and competitors is through the roof.
The Apple’s Special Events is an undisputed champion among hybrid events. As is tradition, the reigning CEO, Tim Cook announces the product launch and tech innovations which is live streamed to millions of people around the world who hang onto every word.
No corners are cut for the production and the event manages to blow minds every single time. Not even the pandemic could dampen and bring the spirits down. 1000 people attended Apple’s 2019 event and an audience of two million, which is 99.95% of the audience, showed up virtually. Through hybrid events, Apple has been able to create an immersive and interactive experience, helping the brand hit records with their viewership from a single event.
INBOUND by Hubspot
On September 22 and 23, we went live with INBOUND 2020. A digital Boston came to life featuring two days of Live Spotlights, Interactive Sessions, Social Meetups and more. https://t.co/Bx5xc5u2ci pic.twitter.com/5z6vE4XGAl— Dreamwave (@dreamwave) October 21, 2020
INBOUND is the annual HubSpot event usually hosted in Boston. Marketeers from different fields come together for a fun and entertaining learning experience. Celebrity speakers like Rand Fishkin and Alex Rodrigeuz headline the event and world-class stand-up comedians are roped in to keep the crowd in splits.
In 2020, this events got a hybrid treatment that made it bigger and better. The platform created a simple, fun and animated interface to log-in. Each event session had an allocated room that delivered quality content to the users. These sessions were recorded so the participants could relive the experience and learn from it. The event brings learning, convenience and fun to its audience which appears to be INBOUND’s secret sauce.
#FinCon21 hosted a hybrid event last year for attendees both in Austin, Texas or anywhere in the world. This event was for any personal finance content creators on the internet such as bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers or social media influencers. The top goal for the organizers was to make sure the online audience got the same experience as the in-person attendees.
What set this event apart from the crowd was the networking opportunities. The offline participants had small group discussions whereas the online participants could effortlessly interact with each other using chat and video call options. The hybrid presentations hit all the right spots and engaged with both the crowds.
The livestreaming giant, Twitch, has a pretty massive user base particularly in the world of gaming and esports. It’s no surprise that at their hybrid conference TwitchCon, they gave their online and in-person audience an event to remember.
The event is held in San Diego and livestreams keynote presentations, panel sessions, meet-and-greets, music and a lot more. In 2019, there were more heavily produced segments like a Blink-182 performance. The event uses its platform to reach their virtual audience and goes all out by driving interaction among its users.
Social Media Marketing World
A go-to hybrid event for every social media influencer, the Social Media Marketing World sets the bar high by maximizing their reach and quality content. The virtual users are in for a treat with access to private networking groups and getting to know like-minded participants.
While signing-up for the event, the user gets to choose from different tiers to customize their experience. The tier ranges from 100% virtual, access to recorded content, and all-access passes. The all-access tier is inclusive of attending the event live, access to all keynote presentations, sessions, recordings, and more.
To sum it up
Hybrid events are the gold standard of digital creativity and it’s impressive to witness how far it has come in such a short time. Hosting an event in this format brings the audience closer and helps them build connections from the comfort of their homes. Wrapping up what we’ve covered, the key takeaways to hosting a hybrid event are:
- Put audience interaction at the heart of every event. Organize activities that engage with the audience and get them to participate so they feel involved
- Bridge the gap. Participants, especially the ones who are online, should feel confident to reach out and talk to each other like they would if they were in the same room.
- Play up the physical aspect of the event. Get performers such as comedians and musicians onsite to give the in-person attendees an exclusive in-person experience.
- Give the attendees the power of choice. Having multiple ticket options allow the audience to design their experience. They can choose how they’d like to attend and to what extent they’d want to participate.
- Leave it to the pros. Get a production team and an event agency onboard to give your audience the very best your event has to offer
- The only rule is there are no rules. Get your hands dirty and experiment with tech to see what works best for the event and your audience.
Are you planning your next hybrid event or just want to know more about us? Contact us now! We look forward to answering your questions
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