Are hybrid events a trending word or are event professionals and attendees actually serious about them? We all settled in during the pandemic with virtual events and struggling to figure out how to not speak while muted. Zoom sky rocketed and other virtual event platforms followed suite to get their footing.
At least 24.8% of the U.S. population has been vaccinated. Israel leads the effort globally. With this, some are looking to break away from the confines of their homes and venture out. Events have always been a game changer when it comes to being a part of experiences. From the Super Bowl to the Dubai World Expo, people can’t get enough from events.
Knowing this and the fact that millions are still unvaccinated, hybrid events present the next opportunity in the event world. While knowing this, there is still left to the unknown for those who have never experienced a hybrid event nor planned one.
Here are some key things to consider as we move further into the pandemic while states and countries open up.
First, a hybrid event is any live in-person event that combines a virtual (online) component.
6 Ways To Effectively Plan Hybrid Events
1 – Room Layout and Space
Many venues will be eliminated because they will not offer adequate space for your hybrid event. With the need to ensure physical distancing, that means larger rooms are needed for your guests. It also means that you have to have enough space for:
- COVID-19 Screening stations
- Screens or monitors
- Multiple stages or larger stages for Speakers
- and other things your event didn’t need before
BONUS: Does your venue have a backup generator? Not all do and you don’t want to take that chance when virtual events are attracting more people than live events are.
2 – Exhibitor Space and Amenities to Engage Online Guests
Equally important to having enough space at the venue, your vendors need space as well. But not just space to engage those who show up. Their vendor space now has to serve dual purpose. It’s difficult to have the one set up that meets the needs of both types of participants. It’s easier for those in-person, but will your online audience care to simply see an Exhibitor space with a table and chair?
Exhibitors now have to figure out how to effectively engage with those online. Are you scheduling one-on-one sessions? How are you offering prizes? Are you scheduling group demos virtually? These questions and many more are critical to master before participating in hybrid events.
3 – Fix Your WiFi
Traditionally, events are at the mercy of the WiFi the venue offers. In many cases, if your event is at a hotel, you either pay a premium for your own static IP or you use the Public IP that hotel guest also use. This can cause delays when talking about streaming sessions that last hours.
Not having strong enough WiFi can also limit your ability to stream multiple sessions simultaneously. We are now in the era of 5G. Is this a discussion you are having with you’re A/V team?
Failing to have a strong enough internet speed not only angers those watching, but prevents you from having a great video to show on-demand.
4 – How Good Is Your A/V Team?
Most A/V teams are used to the standard event requests. Lighting, staging, and screens for those all the way in the nose bleed section. However, with the need for hybrid events, you now have to focus on camera operators, programmers, webcasting gear, video switching, and having good enough servers for pre-recorded items.
I also recommend that you have a detailed conversation about how much power you are going to need. With the added stages, cameras, and other things, you’ll need enough juice.
These things and more are why virtual events were the same if not more than live-event budgets.
5 – Security and Data Privacy
Anytime you take someone online, you have to worry about if the privacy of your guests is at stake. With virtual event platforms, you are susceptible to the owner of that platform and what they are doing to mitigate date stored. You are also hoping they won’t sell your guest’s personal information.
It is up to you as the event organizer to ask the tough questions and get answers back. Your guests want to know that if they register for something you are planning that they don’t have to worry about being hacked.
6 – Hybrid Event Rehearsal
Please do not allow your Speakers, Presenters, Moderators, and Performers to tell you they don’t need a rehearsal. They Do! To date I have not had a perfect rehearsal. Nope that’s not because of me. It’s because there is still a learning curve for everyone. Speakers are still struggling to find the unmute option. Screen sharing is problematic. People freeze on camera and so much more.
By having a rehearsal you ensure everyone knows what they are doing and will get it right come ShowTime. Certainly there may still be issues, but less issues.
With this, venues may not always give you a day to rehearse…..for free. Make sure you budget properly.
Hybrid Events are going to be around for a while. It’s up to you to understand the impact they will have on your next event. There are far more considerations you have for hybrid events than you do for live events. Plan ahead and have a have a plan before you start booking and signing contracts.
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