As we transition back to a version of normalcy thanks to the vaccines, your association will be looking to reopen in person events. After a full year or more of virtual events, your membership will be wanting more from the in-person events. You may find great benefits in the form of hybrid events. Depending on the type of event you are producing there are different ways to make it a hybrid event.
Benefits of a hybrid event:
- A hybrid event combines both the wide reach of your virtual event, and the engagement and revenue generation potential of your in-person event.
- With hybrid events, the overarching goal is to make the conference accessible for as many people as possible. By reducing the barrier to entry, there is more opportunity for people to learn about your content and brand.
- In-person events are often expensive. Tuning in virtually is often less expensive than attending in-person. So, a hybrid event is likely to attract more registrants than an in-person conference.
- When your conference is hybrid, your sponsors have a better opportunity to get in front of your attendees. That’s because they can get in front of them in-person and virtually, delivering them double the exposure they would for just an in-person or digital event.
- Having part of your event digital offer new opportunities to market brands and to create leads, which your members will appreciate. When your sponsors are offered more value, your conference will attract more sponsors and more money.
- Use recorded sessions for on-demand sessions later. This offers your members the advantages of either upgrading their learning.
Read, “When Can We Hold Events In 2021?” for information on upcoming events this year.
If you are holding your conference in a convention centre or hotel ballroom, you may be required to limit in person attendance to follow provincial health guidelines. Your venue will help you to determine your in-person conference’s space capacity. Due to social distancing, you will need a larger space than what you previously have booked for this event.
An AV company which has experience in live-streaming events is a must. Here are some things to consider when reviewing proposals:
- Lighting the room must be adjusted for live stream, especially the podium.
- Sound needs to be optimal. Focus sound on the speaker and dull the ambient room sounds.
- Plan for audience Q&A microphones.
- Ensure sure your stream has enough band width (try using speedtest.net).
- Make sure the décor works for both your in-person and your virtual attendees. Do a camera test to make sure the balance is correct.
- It is imperative to give both in-person and virtual attendees the same experience, or at least as close to the same experience as possible.
- Is there a virtual networking component that aligns with your in-person networking? Make sure potential attendees know what they can expect from both the in-person and the virtual event so they can make an informed decision.
- Determine your price structure.
Confirm with your venue what safety polices they are following.
- Do they provide hand sanitizers stations or will supply (hint—sponsorship opportunity!)
- Can you take temperatures before entry?
- Will you need box meals?
- Can there be table service?
Hybrid Trade Show
One association client that our company works with traditionally offered trade shows for their members to connect and do business together. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, these trade shows were always in-person with hundreds of attendees crowding onto a convention centre floor. This past year, the association was able to hold two very successful virtual trade shows. Now they are realizing that even when they allowed to go back to in-person trade shows, they still want to include some components from the virtual trade shows. The benefits of virtual trade shows include enhanced booth analytics, and that the easily accessible platform for members across North America.
Even with the benefits of virtual trade shows, the membership is still eager to return to in person trade shows. The trick is to find a way to combine the best of both worlds. Consider live-streaming Keynote and education sessions. Use your chat features to connect your in-person and virtual attendees. People are more likely to ask questions/make comments through a virtual chat than an on camera or in-person Q+A. You will get more buy-in from both groups.
Read more about the benefits of virtual in “Association Trade Shows Gone Virtual.”
Will you hold your in-person trade show and virtual show concurrently or on separate days? Consider these points:
- Do all of your exhibitors have large enough sales forces to run both shows at the same time?
- How many days in between each show to allow sales team to return to their home bases?
- Will exhibitors be willing to build a virtual and an in-person booth?
- Will you lose revenue that is traditionally associated with higher-priced in-person booths?
Hybrid events are the future. This past year has shown us that association members want to be connected to each other and are willing to use technology to achieve that connection. Inserting virtual components into your live events will reach the largest audiences. A hybrid event is the best way to reach more members than ever before.