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Planning a Hybrid Event in 2024 - A Guide

Laurence Tognetti
January 8, 2024

I. The Rise of Hybrid Events  

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the world's population to reshape their lives as everyone stayed indoors to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The result was that traditional, in-person events, where networking was the priority, quickly became virtual-only events. In this post-Covid world, many of these events have returned to being in-person while continuing to include a virtual aspect. These 'hybrid' events are rapidly becoming the new norm for networking. A recent survey found that 66.5% of event professionals predicted that hybrid events will be incorporated into all future event strategies.   

Due to geographic boundaries and financial costs, many would-be event attendees worldwide are unable to attend in-person events. These factors alone highlight the increased relevance of blending physical and virtual events. With a hybrid approach, your event can increase inclusivity and diversity, which will build stronger relationships and foster connectivity for both the short- and long-term. As we enter 2024, it's essential to understand not only the fiscal benefits of going hybrid but also how to develop successful and effective hybrid events. Here, we will discuss the steps to create a truly successful hybrid event in 2024.  

An image showing an in-person event being live-streamed. Also shows a potential hybrid element of a session schedule available online.

II. The Hybrid Advantage  

Hybrid events offer many benefits compared to strictly virtual or in-person events, including extended reach, improved engagement, and flexibility. Much like virtual events, hybrid events break down geographic barriers so individuals have the choice to attend in-person or virtually. Adding virtual components opens the door to those who may be unable to attend due to geographic, financial, or scheduling circumstances. 

By harnessing the power of both worlds, hybrid events provide greater inclusivity, engagement, and networking opportunities that virtual or in-person events can't provide on their own. Additionally, they provide an opportunity for first-time attendees to "dip their toes" into your brand, allowing them to attend in person for future events.   

An image showing an event space being live-streamed.

III. Preparing for a Successful Hybrid Event: Venue 

When planning your hybrid event, understanding and catering to physical and virtual attendees are crucial for your success. Maintaining equal engagement levels for both audiences is complicated but vital. For instance, if you are hybridizing a conference, a good starting point is to include strong and consistent live-streaming with a reliable internet connection so your virtual audience can engage with speakers and in-person audience members in real-time.   

Like all events, hybrid events require tailored content and engagement to meet the needs of both virtual and in-person attendees. Provide resources for the seeing- and hearing-impaired and opportunities for individuals in various time zones to participate through easily accessible taped talks, real-time captioning, multi-lingual captioning, and landing pages or virtual event spaces that can be easily converted from text to speech/audio.   

Selecting a venue that supports physical and virtual components is vital when planning your hybrid event. If considering a hybrid element, make sure the venue you choose has a reliable internet connection, AV accessibility, and adequate facilities for the on-site virtual event management staff. With these features, your virtual audience may experience a more engaging event. 

An image showing potential hybrid aspects of an event on the Chati platform.

IV. Event Management and Project Management  

All successful hybrid events require effective event management practices, beginning with registration, ticketing, and attendee support for both audiences. When promoting your event, providing a seamless registration process provides your attendees with an excellent first impression of your event. Ongoing attendee support ensures attendees that the event is effectively managed. Peace of mind in the little things makes a huge difference for both audiences. 

The importance of a seamless attendee experience must be noticed and addressed, from the registration page to the sessions to the post-event feedback. When your attendees have the most seamless experience possible, they leave your event with a sense of fulfillment and are excited for your future events.   

Since some of your hybrid event attendees will inevitably be virtual, it's vital to consider the various time zones they will be attending from. Some attendees will not be able to see certain sessions live, so it's recommended to provide archived sessions on-demand so they can view them later, either during the event or afterward. Having streamed sessions available on-demand ensures a wider reach for your content and allows attendees to view content they would otherwise have missed. 

Additional strategies for accommodating global participants include captioning available in multiple languages, flexible scheduling, and 24-hour virtual support.   

Image showing breakout rooms on the Chati platform.

V. Enhancing Attendee Interaction  

Regarding enhancing attendee engagement and interaction, breakout rooms offer enormous opportunities to foster small group discussions and networking for in-person and virtual audiences. This is because breakout rooms are exactly as their name describes, as a break from the chaos and large crowds of the event and an opportunity to breathe and engage one-on-one with other audience members, which increases inclusivity and diversity while building lasting relationships and fostering valuable connections. Virtual match-making allows those with shared interests to meet and interact with one another when they may otherwise feel left out of the in-person experience. 

Image showing the real-time video chat capabilities of the Chati platform.

VI. Real-Time Interaction  

Hybrid events thrive on live interaction and engagement between in-person and virtual audiences, and the value of live Q&A sessions for attendee engagement cannot be overstated. Live interaction allows both audiences to share and learn from each other, building relationships and fostering connections for both the short- and long-term.   

When facilitating interactive Q&A sessions, it's vital to maintain a sense of direction and order, as having the right session host or chairperson can help keep everyone on the same page and allow everyone the opportunity to interact equally, whether from the virtual or in-person audience.   

Taking advantage of the social media landscape is vital to a successful hybrid event. This can include using your company's social media pages to promote and broadcast the event and creating alternative social media pages for various event components. The myriad of social media platforms, including Facebook, X (formerly known as Twitter), Instagram, Bluesky, and Mastodon, to name a few, makes it possible to target your audience effectively and interact with them in a familiar and friendly environment.   

By harnessing the power of social media, your hybrid event and your brand can amplify real-time interaction for virtual and in-person audiences worldwide. This can be accomplished through live streaming on social media platforms or encouraging direct messaging if you wish to engage with an attendee one-on-one.   

Chati analytics dashboard.

VII. Measuring Success  

Collecting and analyzing data during and after the event will provide valuable feedback regarding engagement and logistical metrics, ensuring your attendees from both aspects of the event obtain equal engagement and networking opportunities. This includes ensuring strong and consistent live-streaming capabilities for your virtual audience and seamless engagement with in-person attendees.   

All endeavors require feedback to ensure success going forward, and obtaining feedback for hybrid events is crucial since there are two different types of audiences you're helping. This can be conducted with post-event surveys and emails, but also provide contact information in case your attendees might remember aspects of the event later.   

Successful feedback will not only ensure your latest event's success. Still, it will also inform future hybrid events on what steps need to be taken to ensure maximum engagement, inclusivity, and diversity for attendees worldwide.   

VIII. Conclusion  

Hybrid events have become a cornerstone to networking and engagement, especially in this post-Covid world, and following these strategies will ensure that 2024 will have even more successful hybrid events that improve inclusivity, diversity, and engagement for everyone. This includes providing appropriate venues, technological and logistical readiness, catering to your audience's needs, and receiving relevant feedback from your audience, both virtually and in person.  

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, future trends and hybrid event experiences will also continue to evolve. With these strategies, you can ensure solid and impactful hybrid events through 2024 and beyond!  

Sources: Impact XMStovaDeal RoomvFairsAirmeetMeetingPulse   

Written by Laurence Tognetti

Laurence Tognetti is a six-year USAF Veteran with extensive journalism and science communication experience for various outlets. He specializes in space and astronomy and is the author of “Outer Solar System Moons: Your Personal 3D Journey”. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ET_Exists.

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