Hybrid events have quickly become the new normal for the events industry.
In the wake of COVID-19, they have emerged as the perfect kind of event in these uncertain times.
Many trade shows, conferences, sales kick-offs, and global town halls are now being held both onsite and virtually. A recent survey of meeting and event planners revealed that 75% will host at least a portion of their events virtually in 2022.
Hybrid opportunities and challenges
There are many advantages to running a hybrid event. This format can increase the reach of an event massively, opening it up to attendees from countries and companies that might never have participated before. The virtual element attracts speakers and attendees who cannot or do not want to travel due to health concerns, time pressures, or reduced travel budgets.
Hybrid events also have a lower carbon footprint. Attendees from further afield will likely opt to tune in virtually rather than fly or drive to attend in person.
But hybrid events also come with challenges. Organizing an event that is both in-person and virtual requires more planning and comes with greater costs. To be successful, it also needs to offer an amazing experience for both attendee groups. If planners focus largely on the in-person experience, the virtual attendees will tune out or feel like they haven’t gotten value for their ticket price.
Steps to hybrid success
To meet these challenges, there are a number of steps that hybrid event organizers can take.
It’s important to select a robust event management platform on which to hold the virtual element of your event. This is the platform that your attendees will use to watch, read, or listen to your content. When weighing a potential platform, think about how easy it is for attendees to access, its ability to host and stream high quality video content, and its audience interaction and networking tools.
Depending on the size of your event, it can also be helpful to partner with an experienced audio-visual team that specializes in production for virtual and live events. They will ensure that your content is produced to a professional standard to keep your audience tuned in.
The content itself is arguably even more important during a hybrid event: it needs to keep virtual attendees engaged in front of their computer screen, as well as those listening to sessions or presentations onsite. Alongside offering great presentations, speakers, and panel sessions, try to involve the remote audience through interactive formats like Q&As, live polls, and live chats.
Remember too that networking is a major reason people attend events; delegates want to make valuable connections and sponsors are looking to generate leads. So, a platform that facilitates networking will help drive attendance and boost engagement.
As a broader range people are likely to attend a hybrid event, it’s also crucial to ensure that the content is as accessible as possible. Increasingly, organizers are localizing event presentations, videos, and panel sessions so they can appeal to people who will be tuning in from all over the world.
If the content is recorded before an event, it can be subtitled ahead of time or provided with a pre-recorded simultaneous translation. This can be done live too; an experienced localization provider can deliver remote simultaneous interpretation (RSI) via the cloud. In particular, live captions are a great way to comply with accessibility laws and best practices, and provide a better experience for everyone, including those whose second language is English.
TransPerfect has plenty of experience in the events space. For example, we recently helped Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) localize content for HPE Discover 2021, the technology giant’s annual showcase event for business and government customers that hosted over 50,000 people from around the world.
Turning any physical event like this into a virtual or hybrid experience can extend its audience significantly—but this requires careful planning to ensure remote attendees find it engaging, accessible, and rewarding.
This is why the key to success for event planners looking to adapt to the new normal is teaming with experienced partners who can help them deliver.
To start preparing for your next virtual or hybrid event, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org today!