For the last 6-9 months, event professionals have been trying to redefine hybrid events. We’ve seen (...and participated 🙈) in the do’s and don’ts of hybrid events, but the truth is there just isn’t a one size fits all formula. Although we’ve decided that true hybrid events should not actually exist (here’s our reasoning), if you’re going to go through with them, we believe hybrid events will be more of a fluid continuum.
So with that being said, we chatted with event veteran, Josh Shepherd, to ideate five different ways in which we see hybrid events being executed and assessed the pros and cons of each.
So let’s get crackin’!
5 Types of Hybrid Events and the Benefits of Each
1 Mirrored Hybrid Event
A mirrored hybrid event employs the exact same content for in-person attendees as for virtual attendees. The presentation of content may be bi-directional, making broadcast viewing options necessary for both in-person and virtual attendees. This type of event will typically have a large reach, with more attendees opting to attend virtually thanks to the guarantee of content parity without having to travel.
A mirrored hybrid event is often going to be best for content-driven events, these include informational and educational events, user conferences, etc.
The cost of running a mirrored hybrid event depends on how many in-person tickets you’re planning to sell, and how many sessions will be broadcasted live from the venue vs virtual live or simulive sessions.
If you have excellent content, participants will pay to receive that content regardless of how it’s delivered. Therefore, you could charge the same price for both tickets, even though in-person tickets include in-person and virtual access. Or you could discount the virtual ticket as there isn’t an in-person option, which also increases the reach of the event. Attendees will attend in-person to get more emotional engagement with the personal contact and immersion of attending, but you add the benefit of an expanded audience by allowing attendees to join virtually reducing the cost of hotels, transportation, food, etc.
- All content is available regardless of how someone attends.
- In-person attendees can move freely between delivery methods.
- Expanded audience reach as both in-person and virtual attendees will be receiving all of the content.
- Easy to comprehend and understand what is going on from an attendee perspective.
- Extended the opportunity for exposure for exhibitors, sponsors, and partners.
- Engagement tools link in-person attendees with virtual attendees.
- There will be a lot of planner work and manual attention to detail – likely the addition of a new role for the event to manage the hybrid aspects.
- It’ll be a long day or multi-day event for virtual attendees to sit in front of their computers and listen to sessions. This effect may encourage the behavior of virtual attendees to pick and choose the sessions which mean the most to them and skip out on others.
2 In-Person-First Hybrid Event
The in-person first hybrid event is where the event takes place in-person with select sessions and experiences created to augment the experience. Select sessions would be broadcasted to a virtual audience. These select sessions will probably include the keynote speakers as well as a few highly anticipated speakers or topics. In-person and virtual attendees will be augmenting their experience with a virtual event hub and an event app.
The in-person first hybrid event is best for an overall event experience with a few hot sessions that will reach a wide virtual audience. The experience of attending an in-person first hybrid event wouldn’t be the same if it were completely mirrored. So instead of having a mediocre virtual experience, virtual attendees can hear the important content pieces that are being broadcasted and be left with excitement to join in person next time around for the entire experience.
For the in-person hybrid event, the in-person ticket will be more costly than the virtual ticket. The virtual could then include all of the virtual sessions offered or the virtual sessions could be sold separately. Or, you could package the virtual ticket as 3 sessions and the attendee could pick which 3 virtual sessions they would like to attend. As you can see, there are a lot of options for how you’d like to sell your virtual ticket.
- Enhanced experiences for in-person attendees.
- More manageable for virtual attendees to attend the handful of virtual sessions rather than a couple of days worth.
- Potentially reduce event budget by getting paid speaking talent to broadcast remotely.
- A great solution for planners wanting to put on an experience rather than an informational event.
- By offering part of the event online, you’re increasing your overall reach and ROI.
- It’s a limited experience for virtual-only attendees.
- A more targeted reach due to limited virtual content and experience
3 Virtual-First Hybrid Event
A Virtual-First Hybrid Event is a fully-featured virtual event where the audience participates in sessions virtually (live, simulive, or on-demand) while having in-person components augmenting the experience in one or various geographic locations. These geographic locations should be chosen based on past data showing where the higher volume of registrants is located. In-person components could be watch parties, networking events, evening events, sessions, or breakouts. You should tailor the experience to the greater virtual audience while offering smaller in-person experiences.
The virtual first hybrid event is best suited for when you have a largely distributed audience (continental or global) and when content is the main event driver. This means that while the content is shining, networking might take the back seat or be less of a focus overall. Virtual first hybrid events are also great for massive events. If you have tens of thousands of people attending it might not be feasible to have many people gathering due to covid.
Ticketing for this could be the same for virtual and in-person or could be slightly more expensive for in-person as they have the added benefit of engaging and networking in person.
- Great for large events.
- A good option for content-heavy events.
- Provide smaller networking and in-person sessions in carefully selected locations which increases venue and experience options
- By having a large virtual portion, you’re increasing reach and overall ROI.
- Networking plays a different role in this type of event and must be managed.
- It’ll be a long day or multi-day event for virtual attendees to sit in front of their computers and listen to content-heavy sessions.
- The impact of attending a large event can be masked by virtual – take extra steps to make experiences special for attendees.
4 Spoke Hybrid Event
A Spoke Hybrid Event has different in-person content in different cities, rolling up into one virtual event. These in-person sessions could happen all on the same day or different days throughout a specific period of time, but they will all be recorded. All of the recordings will be uploaded to the virtual event hub where attendees can access these recordings like a recorded virtual event. Tickets can also be sold to virtual attendees who are not able to make any of the in-person sessions.
A spoke hybrid event is best suited for testing out different content across groups or if you already have that data, curating content to different audiences. The attendees can access and watch all of the sessions on-demand in the virtual event hub. There they can also network with each other and connect with sponsors.
Due to having an in-person networking experience, the in-person tickets may be more costly than the virtual-only tickets. Or you may decide to not have a virtual-only experience at all.
- A more intimate hybrid event style as people will be attending small in-person events or sessions locally.
- Incorporates the emotional connections of in-person events with very targeted content.
- An interesting option for touring events to tailor the content to different cities or regions while providing the rollup experience to everyone.
- Content delivered over time is potentially better for comprehension.
- Attendees do not have to commit a large dedicated block of time to attend the event.
- Take advantage of local Speakers at a lower cost
- More cost-effective for attendees to attend an afternoon or evening locally vs traveling to a multi-day event.
- People will have to wait to get all of the content that they may be interested in.
- The relevant content may not be in-person within the attendee’s city and they must travel or watch virtually.
- Larger time and resource commitment by planners
5 Multiplier Hybrid Event
The multiplier hybrid event is the same content repeated in-person in different cities and is supported by virtual. It’s named the multiplier as it slowly builds up (multiplies) the event audience exposure. To break down the concept more: the multiplier hybrid event is repeated events of smaller targeted audiences in various geographic locations. The spoke hybrid event has different content for each session, whereas the multiplier hybrid event has the same content across various geographic locations – multiplying the audience as the sessions continue. The in-person audiences will then gather online for a large virtual event, to supplement the learnings of the in-person sessions. Instead of having one in-person event with 1000 people, the multiplier will be 10 in-person sessions with 50 people with the large, group virtual event connecting everyone at the end.
The multiplier hybrid event is best for tours. A team can travel to different geographic locations, pre-educating attendees on a particular topic or product, and then all of the locations can virtually gather for review, additional teachings, and networking.
Ticketing for the multiplier hybrid event would be a single ticket for both an in-person session and the virtual event. You may choose to only sell tickets in which a person can attend both. Or you may decide that people who are unable to attend the in-person session can still attend the virtual portion.
- Perfect for highly focused audiences.
- Great for product tours.
- Maintain small intimate groups of attendees for networking. Many experiences and venues open up with smaller groups.
- More cost-effective for attendees to attend an afternoon or evening locally vs traveling to a multi-day event.
- Repeated content delivery allows for fine-tuning of presentations, resulting in a finished product
- Requires more time commitment for an event team – traveling on tour.
- Reduces costs for attendees, but at an added cost for planners (T&E).
More time is required to complete the overall event.
- Less large-event hype.
The truth is, there’s not a right or wrong way to run your hybrid event or hybrid event series. We didn’t write this blog to tell you exactly how to run a hybrid event. We wanted to give you ways in which hybrid could look.
An event can range from fully in-person to fully virtual to anything in-between. If one of these executions is exactly what you needed to see, that’s fantastic! If one was close but you need to make adjustments, then our job here is still done.
Regardless, there’s no need to stress. You’ve run successful in-person events and successful virtual events. The hard work is done, now you just need to put what you know into action.
Still feeling a little lost about hybrid and what it all means for you and your events? Check out our hybrid guide where we introduce Hybrid Strategy, the benefit of Hybrid Strategy vs. hybrid events, and how to implement a Hybrid Strategy from a tech and non-tech perspective.
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