Planning Hybrid Events: One Event, Two Experiences

While virtual events demonstrated the power of technology in bringing dispersed people together in the aftermath of COVID-19, they also proved the unmatched value of in-person interactions. Luckily, hybrid events marry the best of both worlds, providing an inclusive and sustainable event that is rich in data and dynamic for organizers and participants alike. 

Planning hybrid events pose a unique advantage to event organizers looking to increase ticket sales, by being able to expand their events reach to a larger, global audience. However, running hybrid events requires crafting two distinct, yet synchronized, event experiences under the guise of one cohesive event. 

Characteristics of Hybrid Events

Hybrid events have been around for decades – think, televised sports, award shows, political events, or concerts. But more recently, the format has expanded to include seminars, trade shows, career fairs, conferences, and more. 

Hybrid events combine aspects of traditional physical events with virtual components to create a coordinated and inclusive experience for on-site and online audiences. The in-person portion of the event includes a physical venue where people gather for workshops, presentations, networking activities, etc. And, the virtual aspect of the event includes streaming platforms, event apps, or software that allow for participation from anywhere in the world. 

While hybrid events offers two distinct experiences, they should look and feel like one event granting every attendee a valuable experience. Achieving this requires proper integration of technology, synchronized agendas, and engaging content.

Hybrid events

Benefits of Hybrid Events

There are many benefits to hosting a hybrid event. First, hybrid events eliminate barriers to entry by allowing attendees to participate either physically or virtually. This flexibility helps overcome geographical, financial, and logistical challenges of attending an event. It expands the event’s reach to new audiences and presenters and can bring in extra ticket revenue.

Hybrid events also help event organizers meet sustainability goals. By offering virtual options, organizers can limit food waste and travel, reducing the event’s carbon footprint while serving larger audiences.

Additionally, these events give event organizers access to a wealth of data. Due to the gamification components required to engage both audiences, organizers can capture important analytics from click details, logins, watch times, poll responses, and more. This data becomes extremely valuable in demonstrating the event’s return on investment to stakeholders. 

In this way, hybrid events also unlock new sponsorship opportunities. Features like virtual booths, clickable banners, or online sessions enable sponsors to collect valuable attendee and engagement data to demonstrate ROI on funding. Event organizers may also use data gleaned from activities to justify charging more for future sponsorship packages. 

A final value added through hybrid events is their ability to extend beyond the event. Content such as recorded sessions, downloadable resources, or interactive platforms can all be made accessible after the event. Event organizers may even choose to repurpose some content for use in other marketing and communications initiatives. 

Planning Content for Hybrid Events

A key challenge in organizing a successful hybrid event lies in crafting compelling and inclusive content that resonates with all participants. This can be a time-consuming process. 

Hybrid events require diverse content formats that cater to different learning and engagement preferences. Event organizers should consider incorporating a mix of lectures, panels, interactive workshops, pre-recorded content, Q&A sessions, polls, and networking opportunities across physical and virtual platforms. 

Proper planning and use of technology plays a pivotal role in enhancing seamless, synchronized interactions between in-person and remote audiences. Utilizing interactive technologies that allow for live feedback and correspondence is a must. And, speakers and presenters should be prepared to engage audiences effectively across platforms. 

Beyond content planning, human connection is cornerstone to any successful event. In-person, this comes naturally due to the proximity attendees have to one another. But virtually, it must be made more intentional. Thus, planners should integrate virtual networking sessions and discussion forums for online attendees to forge connections. 

Expanding a live event online - hybrid events

Best Practices for Hybrid Event Management

With proper planning and thoughtful execution, event organizers can create seamless, interactive, and inclusive hybrid events. To summarize, some best practices include: 

  1. Consider the costs and requirements needed for two venues – one physical, one virtual.
  2. Be aware of time zone differences between in-person and online participants. 
  3. Make clear the features of online versus in-person event experiences within event marketing and communications. This way, attendees can evaluate which experience is right for them. 
  4. Choose appropriate technology solutions. Select virtual event software that allows for live streaming, interactive discussions, online exhibitions, and breakout sessions or networking. Be sure to hire and train staff to offer technical support throughout the event. 
  5. Prepare for technical issues. Test technology prior to the event, and set up contingency plans in case something goes wrong during the event. 
  6. Create engagement opportunities for both audiences through live polls, Q&As, breakout sessions. And, keep track of participation data. 
  7. Provide access to recorded sessions, presentation materials, and resources to attendees after the event. Then, repurpose content in other marketing and communication initiatives.

How to Sell Tickets for an Online Event

Though much of the world has returned to in-person get togethers, online events remain a relevant and practical way to connect with audiences and communities around the world. But, selling online event tickets and getting people to commit can be tricky. 

Online event planners may face an uphill battle in reaching and recruiting event attendees, as well as dispelling preconceived notions that online events lack both entertainment and engagement. To help organizers work through these challenges, we offer the following advice:

Set up online registration for your virtual event

To sell tickets to any event, you need an eye-catching event website and a ticketing platform with trusted payment processing capabilities. Even if the event is free, a ticketing platform can help ease registration and manage attendee communications.

Fortunately, Ticketbud makes it easy and affordable to create both. That way your audience can learn about and register for your event all in one place, eliminating any barriers to completing registration. 

And, setting up an event with Ticketbud does not require any knowledge of html or design. Use the intuitive page editor to plug in relevant event information. Then browse through the site’s all-inclusive toolkit to create unique ticket types, set timelines for registration, and link to your preferred payment processor (if paid event). 

An example of a virtual event registration page, hosted on Ticketbud.

Once the event is live, use your Ticketbud URL to promote your event across your marketing channels. If you’re hosting a series or multiple events, consider creating an organization landing page through Ticketbud that directs others to your entire event calendar. 

Promote your virtual event across communications channels

It’s not enough to have an event website. You also have to market and promote it in order for the world to see. 

These days, the average person uses more than six social media platforms. So, being present on social media and keeping your messaging and marketing consistent across your channels will make it more likely that your audience will recognize and respond to your branding. 

As you work to promote on social media, it’s important to tap into the network and followers held by any of your event partners, speakers, or sponsors. Use these connections and their channels to help elevate and expand your marketing efforts. You can do this by tagging them in relevant posts or by providing them with visual and written content to post organically. 

Remember, the purpose of social media is to engage. So, be creative in ways that you can get people to interact with your content. The more people who interact with it, the wider your potential reach.

To tap into audiences who already know and trust you, it’s also important to build robust newsletter and email campaigns. These folks may be helpful in referring others to your event. 

Offer incentives to sell more tickets to your online event

One of the most influential tactics to promoting sales is creating the idea of scarcity, or the idea that time or quantity is limited. According to Cornell psychology expert Michael Lynn, this tactic increases desirability in the product by making it feel more exclusive and valuable to the consumer. 

Consider ways you can easily induce a sense of scarcity within your ticket sales or registration:

Ticketbud offers a suite of promotional tools within a users event page set up, including the option to create discount codes.

You can manage both tactics with Ticketbud’s ticket editor, which allows you to create multiple ticket types, set and automate sales and registration timelines, and create discount codes and timed promotions for running exclusive sales. 

Additionally, the tool also enables you to track the success of your sales tactics and marketing promotions through referral codes. These codes generate special links to your website so you can monitor what posts or campaigns are generating the most traffic to your site. 

Research and select a ticketing software that makes sense for you

When choosing an event ticketing system, look for one that makes selling tickets as easy and secure as possible. A reliable event ticketing platform should provide useful tools such as: