Most people now agree: a hybrid event actually consists of 2 separate events - a live and an online event. Yet for many event pros, this 'dichotomy' starts with program design and production. But if you only then start to think from multiple target groups, you have already skipped steps. Where is the blind spot in hybrid events?
Momice has the answer and wrote a very interesting blog post about the pitfalls of organizing hybrid events. We are happy to share it with you:
Who goes where? This is pure relationship management!
Who can attend live? And who do you want to invite to the online part? Being present live can offer added value. Let's take a look at Apple's product launches. They have always been hybrid for corona. Long-range journalists and important ambassadors were invited to attend live and view the new products afterwards. The strategy behind this? Exclusivity leads to great PR value. In addition, all fans and potential customers are retained because they can watch live.
TED has also been using a hybrid variant for years. Even though there is still something to be gained in terms of interaction and online experience, they have always succeeded in generating exclusivity. The strategy behind this is based on a strong substantive audience and therefore an interesting network as the most important added value for live participation. The result: people love to pay a few thousand euros for a ticket.
In short: the (network) strategy of your organization is leading for the target group choice of a hybrid event. The main target audience will get 'the cream of the crop' at the live event - while others can watch or participate in the online section. How about your events?
Check for yourself:
- Is there a network strategy in your organization?
- Are the (differences in) target groups clear in advance?
- Do you determine in advance who may or may not be present live?
- Or can the invitee choose himself?
- How many places do you have available at both events?
- Are participants allowed to bring someone (live / online)
- Do you use different tickets and / or prices for both parts?
- Who in your organization is the point of contact for the two target groups?
One goal is not enough
Are clear objectives set for events within your organization? And is one objective formulated for a hybrid event? Or do you split this into two separate objectives: live and online? When you use different target groups, it is logical that the objectives also differ.
Each target group has its own needs and obstacles. You can take this into account in the communication (read more about this later in this article), but also in the choice of the format and design of your program.
Over the past year we have learned a lot about formats that work well online. But do those formats also work for your audience in the room? Perhaps a talk show is not that engaging for your live audience.
Events with one clear element, such as a product presentation, can be used perfectly for both target groups. But if you have a longer or more complex program, you can greatly improve the experience by alternating different short formats. This is called a Magazine format. Think of speakers on the stage, videos, panel discussions, etc. Always consider what the viewer will see on the screen, but do not lose sight of the 'decor' in the room.
Also try to imagine how online viewers participate in your hybrid events. Do they watch their laptop in between? Or together with colleagues? Viewers parties are organized for some events: small groups watch the (plenary part of) the online event together. As an organizer you can also stimulate the organization of viewers' parties (for example in the invitation or on the event website).
Once you have established your format (s), you can start designing the program. A lot has already been written about this, which is why we have visualized a possible hybrid program with the different target groups:
As you can see, only a few parts are the same for both target groups. All light-colored blocks indicate which parts differ - and for which a separate program and script must be made.
As you can see in the image above, you focus the audience interaction on both audiences. Think carefully about how you want to use the interaction. Can the participants from the audience also vote on the same polls? Or do you want to show the difference on the screen (so two different target groups). And which tools do you use for this?
Remember, audience interaction is not a 'gimmick' that you only add at the end, but an essential part that needs to be integrated and designed from the start.
The blind spot: registration and communication
The invitation is the first point of contact with your target group (s). To make sure you make the right promise to the right people, it is essential that the program and content are established before you send out the invitation.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- How do you split the registration and communication of your target group? With different tickets, a question in the form or 2 different events your event software?
- Can guests choose what they sign up for?
- What happens to the registration of a live participant who still wants to participate online or vice versa?
- How do you deal with the guest list? Do you open it to all participants? Or just for a live audience?
- How do you deal with break-out or workshop registrations? And how do the online participants get the right links?
- Is there a maximum number of participants for 1 of the 2 parts? Are you setting up a reserve list?
- How do you ensure the correct communication and updates for both target groups?
As you can see, communication with a hybrid event can become quite complex. Good software and tools are indispensable in this process!
Data and evaluation: separate or separate?
How do you determine the success of the event afterwards? You should have set goals for the live and online part. Do you evaluate everything at once? Or do you divide the evaluation into two parts? What data is available for both evaluations? And how do you collect these? The right software can help you collect:
- NPS (Net Promoter Score)
- Average rating event
- Open event survey feedback
- Results from polls
- Viewer data
- Show & no-show at the live part
- Workshop participation (live & online)
These tools & technique are essential
Now that you know where the blind spot is when organizing a hybrid event, you can also better estimate which platforms or software you need to allow both target groups to participate effortlessly. We list a few things that you cannot ignore:
- Registration software (mailings, tickets, website, live stream page)
- Livestream tool (to be provided yourself or via a livestream partner)
- Interaction tools (polls, chats)
- Platform for online breakouts (including guidance to the next session)
- Evaluation tools (event survey, viewer data, online & offline check-in and check-out)
In short: you need professional tools to ensure smooth participation for both target groups. Carefully thinking through each step must be done very accurately for a hybrid event and without professional event software, chances are that it will become one big chaos. It is therefore really important to think in advance about the right steps and associated tools.