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Hybrid Events: What Are They and Why are They Important in 2021?

  • By Lauren
  •  Jan 19, 2021

If 2020 was the year of virtual events, 2021 could be the year of hybrid events. Unlike its fully digital counterpart, a hybrid event integrates a live, in-person event with an online or virtual component. This strategy can be used for anything from business conferences to trade shows, workshops, job fairs, and more.

As COVID-19 restrictions gradually loosen and we get closer to widespread immunity with the distribution of the vaccine, we will hopefully see a slow return to in-person events in the coming months. However, this rollout will look different across states, companies, and households. As we gradually return to in-person gatherings, hybrid events will allow organizations to host attendees at small live events while offering at-home participation and content for those who can't make it or are not comfortable attending in-person.

One of the primary benefits of hybrid events is that they offer the authenticity of human connection with the convenience and safety of virtual content. Hybrid events are also infinitely customizable, as you can decide what elements you want in-person and what elements can be virtual.

Below are some ideas for hosting a successful hybrid event this year (when safety permits):

1.  Plan Ahead

It is important to plan a hybrid event well ahead of time so that everyone knows their role to play on the in-person/ virtual spectrum. This includes registration and appointment scheduling as well as choosing a good virtual streaming platform such as ZoomBigMarker, or HeySummit. All virtual event platforms offer different perks, so it is important to do your research ahead of time.

2.  Seamlessly Integrate the In-Person and Virtual Components

While hybrid events have two distinct components, they should be one event with two experiences. While the content will be delivered to the audience in different ways, you should never have activities that isolate one group from the other. 

For example, if you're planning on having interactive element such as a workshop or a Q&A session, make sure the virtual attendees can participate through a video-conferencing or meeting platform such as Zoom.  

3.  Accessibility is Key

When hosting an event with multiple components, you need to make sure that it is accessible to all participants. If a participant does not want to attend the in-person session, they should not need any crazy technology in order to attend virtually. Try to make the event as easy to attend as possible by sending email or phone invites and offering multiple ways for participants to attend.

While many people have increased their technological capacities to meet today's needs, you should never assume that audiences have complicated or expensive tools at their disposal. Also, try to be aware of the time zones from which your audience members will be attending. It will be difficult for someone on the West Coast to attend a seminar at 9:00AM EST. If you can't adjust to meet varying time zones, make sure you have a way to record the event for participants who can't attend.

While we are all used to virtual life and work at this point, 2021 brings the hope of a return to in-person gatherings. While we can't safely return to in-person events quite yet, it is important to think about the future of events as we look into the new year.

To read more about the future of the events industry or to explore our virtual events and sweepstakes, visit the Engage website at https://www.letsengage.com/.