Preparing to Go Hybrid With Events
As we return to in-person events, it’s important to focus on how to best make the transition for your organization and the attendees. Follow these quick tips on best practices when preparing for your next event to go hybrid.
Hybrid Event Attendance
While many of us are anxious to be face-to-face, it will not be an option for every attendee. Some may be under company travel bans, some may not yet feel comfortable traveling, and some may be in job transitions - wanting to stay current with industry trends but no longer having company sponsorship. So, you need to decide if your program should have a virtual component (the answer is yes, yes you should...in case you were wondering).
Hybrid Event Programming
There are a few different paths to choose for programming. First ask yourself, do you want to create different experiences for each audience or are you broadcasting from a live event to a virtual audience? Whichever option you choose, it’s important to make sure the virtual audience feels included and not like they’re being punished for not being able to travel.
For general sessions or main sessions like awards – will you stream the program live from the venue? If so, will you stream the program in its entirety or just a segment? Or would you prefer to edit segments to use for on-demand viewing instead? Streaming a main session is easier than you would think since you already have screens, cameras, scenic, lighting, audio and other high-end equipment in that space.
Breakout sessions have a couple of different routes to consider. One option would be to create an online catalogue of on-demand sessions just for the at-home viewer. This can be done through a virtual event microsite. If choosing to take existing sessions virtual, select the sessions that have a dynamic component. Maybe it’s a popular session that everyone wants to attend or maybe it’s clinical/technical content vital for attendees to participate in. The virtual component can range from simple (just audio recordings or audio/PPT synch) to more complex (live switch with cameras and presentations). Consider a hybrid room, where all sessions combine your virtual and in-person groups. These should be equipped with TV’s and a camera so speakers and attendees can see each other. Have a moderator lead the discussion so it’s purposeful in the direction of conversation.
Hybrid Event Technology Budget
With hybrid events, you should anticipate your technology budget being higher than normal. If you’ve opted to stream sessions live, you’ll need rooms equipped with the proper AV. If you choose on-demand, that will involve more production time with video crews. Let’s not forget about every venue’s favorite money maker – the internet. You will need hardline internet connections in each streaming space and may need to purchase more wifi bandwidth to support other areas of the event. Check out these other things to consider when budgeting for your event.
Hybrid Event Venues
Venues are adapting to the rapidly changing needs of in-person events too. Your 500-person conference may require twice the space. The lunch buffet that was ‘oh so easy’ for your noon general sessions, may now need to be a plated lunch or a simple grab & go set-up. The venue staff required to keep spaces clean and sanitized may need to be increased. Hotels have also made changes to amenities like housekeeping, room service, or access to fitness centers with it either being limited or non-existent.
Don’t forget about your virtual venue. You’ll want to decide if you’re building out a full event site or if you’re going to stream to other services like Youtube or Facebook Live. The first being a useful tool to keep all attendees engaged after the event, with the latter being cost effective, but featureless.
Hybrid Event Know-Before-You-Go Guide
To ensure your event feels familiar, create a Know-Before-You-Go guide to prep your attendees for the changes. By setting expectations, you’ll allow them to plan appropriately, and not leave them feeling let down because their favorite event wasn’t exactly as it was before. The Know-Before-You-Go can include information like the anticipated schedule of events, specific mask mandates and spacing requirements for the venue, what they can expect for each segment, and any other information that can help them feel prepared for the day.
Start Planning Your Hybrid Event
Now that we know how to plan for attendance, programming, technology, and a venue in a hybrid setting, start planning your first hybrid event as we start to move away from a fully virtual event experience. The experts at LAI Live are here to help. Get in touch with us today by: