The events landscape has changed since the outbreak of COVID-19. In-person events were the norm earlier. In 2020, we got used to virtual events. And now we slowly see a combination of both – hybrid events.
Since the concept is new, we as event planners are likely to run into some initial roadblocks. But, don’t let these challenges define your decisions. Here are five challenges you’re likely to face while planning hybrid events. And how you can solve them.
1. Engaging virtual & in-person audience
Without the proper tools, synchronizing in-person and virtual audiences can get daunting. Your hybrid event may start to seem like two separate events – one that is running in-person and one that is virtual. You obviously don’t want that. Here are a few ways to bridge this gap.
Plan activities that engage both in-person and virtual audiences
- Organize ice-breaking sessions to connect audiences at your hybrid event.
- Plan activities and games that encourage participation from both types of audiences.
- Organize virtual rooms for attendees based on their interests, job profiles, or what they’re looking to achieve through your event.
- During sessions, broadcast virtual attendees on screens at the in-person venue. Also, project their chats and questions next to the stage to ensure they are equally heard.
- Encourage setting up 1-1 meetings before the event itself. Provide booths at the venue for in-person attendees to interact with virtual attendees.
Invest in a charismatic host
Invest in a host that has worked with virtual or hybrid event platforms. Ensure they also have experience in engaging both in-person and virtual audiences.
2. Establishing the right ticket pricing model
When it comes to hybrid events, you have to strike a balance between price and value. If you go higher, you run the risk of losing out on registrations. You go lower and the ROI becomes questionable. So then what is the ideal middle ground?
Let’s take a look at some pricing models you can choose from based on your revenue and expense stream.
Maintaining the same price for both in-person and virtual attendees across the board is the most straightforward strategy you can adopt.
This works due to the simplicity of implementing it. It encourages more attendees to participate in person as well. In addition, if both audiences get the same value from the event, then why not? On the flip side, you’ll be on shaky ground if the in-person experience differs vastly from the virtual event.
Format-based Pricing (Virtual or Hybrid)
In this case, the virtual tickets can be priced lower than the in-person event. The difference between the pricing can be based on factors like your expenses on physical venue, food & beverage, stay options, virtual set up cost, and other infrastructure. You can also choose to make the virtual event free of cost depending on the additional infrastructure expenses it will require.
This pricing model ensures attendees have the option to choose the format preferable to them. Also, they don’t feel exploited based on the value they get from your event. Be sure to justify the price difference between the two formats with the expected value. Otherwise, you might see a lower in-person turnout.
Some events give you various levels of access to content. The highest level of ticket holders, get an all-access pass across the event. Popular speakers, toolkits, and other premium content are inclusive for these registrants. The level of benefits and content access keeps reducing as we move to the lower ticket plans. Access to swag kits is also something that can be decided based on the ticket pricing plan.
This is super practical for attendees as they only pay for what they need. In the bargain losing access to premium content and speakers.
As the name suggests, in this pricing model members pay a lower price than non-members. This makes for a great option if member retention is your goal. It works well even if you’re looking for more participation from members. However, if you’re looking to onboard new members then you might want to align with a different pricing strategy.
This pricing model starts off with being at the lower spectrum of the scale and keeps moving up with time. The idea is to get as many registrations early on with early bird discounts.
This works since you can reach your registration target sooner and can plan for the event accordingly. These early registration numbers can also be used later in your event promotion to attract more registrations. Finally, avoid extending your deadline for this discount since the idea is to create a sense of urgency. And by extending the deadline you’re being counterproductive to the goal.
Registrations, registrations, and more registrations! If that’s the most important goal for you then a group registration discount is a pricing model you should opt for. It motivates people to register in larger numbers to be able to access your event at a lower cost.
3. Choosing the right hybrid event platform
At hybrid events, organizers unintentionally lose out on virtual attendees by not engaging with them well enough. Your hybrid event platform has a huge role in this. Here are a few things to consider while picking up the right event platform:
Data integration and information support
- Choose a robust hybrid event platform that integrates audience information seamlessly. That way everyone knows who’s attending the event. And can connect with relevant individuals through video chats or in-person.
- Provide support to ensure information of in-person attendees gets logged into your systems. This can be done through badge printing at your venue, check-in kiosks, and support desks.
- Incorporate an information hub and a virtual help desk into your mobile app. This ensures seamless crossover between in-person and virtual environments
Audience engagement features
- Prioritize audience engagement features that ease the crossover between in-person and virtual environments.
- Look for features like virtual rooms, networking lounges, 1-1 meetings & chats, Q&A, polls, and virtual booths that facilitate meaningful interactions and networking opportunities.
Dedicated customer support
What has to go wrong, will go wrong. What’s important is the time it will take to address issues during the event. Invest in a platform that provides on-site and off-site support. This will be crucial before, during, and after your event. Also, this will be of utmost importance if you’re organizing a hybrid for the first time.
4. Catering to attendees from different time zones
The upside of hybrid events is access to a larger audience base. The downside is adjusting to different time zones. Here are some ways to increase your reach and cater to attendees from different time zones.
Common time zone
Managing many time zones is overwhelming. Your best bet – plan your event at a time that suits a majority of your attendees.
Host your event over two to three days. This will help you cater to attendees from different time zones and ensure event success.
On-demand event sessions
Offering on-demand sessions for those who missed out on the live event is a great way to reach a wider audience.
5. Maximizing value for sponsors and exhibitors
Maximizing value for sponsors and exhibitors is high on every event planner’s list. More so in the hybrid event format. Here’s what you can offer your sponsors pre, during, and post the event:
Branding and visibility
- Ensure that virtual partners are well-represented at the in-person venue through kiosk-like booths.
- Set up virtual systems for in-person sponsors to ensure virtual attendees have easy access to them.
- Provide sponsors and exhibitors with branding options to ensure attendees are aware of their presence – both in-person and online. Sponsorship options can include giveaways & prizes, ad space on the event platform, and ads at the in-person venue.
- Promote exhibitors and sponsors at the time of event promotion.
- Boost sponsor visibility through sponsored sessions, games, virtual booths, and branded swag.
When it comes to capturing in-person attendee leads, hybrid events are a boon. To ensure you don’t miss out on information ensure you have a watertight data capture process. This includes capturing attendee data at the venue through technology such as QR codes and scanners. In addition to having these systems at the main entrance, exhibitors and sponsors can also use similar technology.
This here, what you just read is an exhaustive list of the major challenges that you are likely to experience at any hybrid event. And addressing these challenges will be important in deciding both audience engagement and the success of your hybrid event.