Party Ideas, Virtual Events

Everything You Need to Know about Hosting Hybrid Events

By GigSalad

With the pandemic continuing far past everyone’s expectations, the future of event planning has come into focus. Holding events that reach a large audience is essential for many industries and companies. The question is, how? Virtual events remain a great alternative and are undoubtedly convenient, but lack many of exciting qualities of an in-person event. Many companies want the ability to interact face-to-face with attendees, show in-person demonstrations, and engage organically with your audience. Hybrid events are the perfect solution!

In this article, we’ll go over types of hybrid events and how they can increase your audience numbers. We’ll also offer tips for planning and protecting against cybersecurity concerns.

What is a hybrid event?

As its name suggests, a hybrid event combines in-person attendance with and virtual options. This gives attendees flexibility and enhances the overall event experience.

You can do this several ways. The simplest way is to hold an in-person event that provides attendees and speakers the option to “dial in” virtually. As in real events, attendees have will have options for engaging in the event. They can passively watch speakers or demonstrations, or alert those organizing the events of any questions or comments they have. 

A more complex hybrid event option allows virtual guests to “walk through” spaces, such as a lobby or arena. This allows them to choose which booths – virtual or otherwise – they want to check out. 

Both business or personal events can utilize a hybrid approach – everything from birthdays and weddings to company parties and concerts.

Increasing your audience with a hybrid option  

Many conference attendees report that they would feel comfortable attending a local in-person event. But they would not be willing to travel on a plane or bus to attend an out-of-state event. A hybrid event gives them the ability to choose. Those who cannot physically be there can still be involved virtually.

The 2020 World Championship League of Legends esport event set world records with its hybrid event last year. With a peak viewership of 45.9 million concurrent people – higher than the population of many countries – the hybrid event model allowed more people to join the gathering than ever would have been possible physically. 

Adjust your pricing or offerings

Your conference or event may be attractive to a larger group of people than you realize. They may be holding back because they’re on a budget or are unsure of the value. Adjusting your price or what the virtual attendees get with their ticket can increase registrations.

Consider offering a lower entry fee for virtual tickets to attract a wider group of people. And perhaps your event will dazzle them and they’ll be highly motivated to attend in person next time. It sets the stage to come back even stronger, with a bigger audience, post-pandemic.

If you don’t want to charge less for virtual tickets, you can offer additional perks to those attendees instead. For example, the Growth Marketing Conference offered virtual attendees additional content and access to over two hundred webinars. This helped make up for other aspects, such as food and beverages, that technology hasn’t quite yet allowed us to replicate virtually. 

Executing your hybrid event

The rapidly changing circumstances of the pandemic has made investing time and money into in-person events a huge gamble. 

The beauty of the hybrid event is that it provides a solution for all the uncertainties. It creates a platform where both organizers and attendees can be in control of their own experience, based on their circumstances and comfort level. 

Get the right tools

The first step to organizing any event is having the proper tools at your disposal. Your event organizers must be able to collaborate and communicate with ease. Find a quality project management software is very important. Look for one with features such as cloud-based file sharing, assignable due dates, project status updates, and a high level of cyber security. 

These kinds of project tools are not just relegated to business purposes alone. As mentioned previously, corporate and private events alike are using hybrid methods. Even a team putting a private party together would benefit from organizational tools that can make collaboration much easier. 

Engage the team

Remember that the success of your hybrid event is largely dependent on the type of technology you’re using. Your audiovisual team should have experience with working on virtual events. Experience with hybrid events would be even better, but since the latter is still somewhat new, these types of technicians may be hard to come by. 

Enabling those planning your event to work remotely if they choose embraces the spirit of having a hybrid event. It also gives your event planners the autonomy to make the choice that is safest for themselves and their family.

For those collaborating remotely, a cloud-based software is essential. “Cloud computing is advantageous since you’re able to store all your files and data on remote databases instead of being limited to local hard drives or storage devices,” says cloud computing expert Barbara Ericson from Cloud Defense. ‘This extends not only to single files but also to huge swaths of data, up to and including complex programs or software.”

Plan ahead

You should plan to rehearse every aspect of your event, especially the technical elements, at least four or five hours before it begins. Involve speakers, event planners, and other demonstrators to give them an opportunity to do a practice run and get acquainted with the technology. 

Addressing potential cybersecurity risks

Hybrid and virtual events have been touted as a great solution to keep people safe amidst a pandemic. However, they aren’t without their own unique risks. Studies have shown that cybercrime and hacking incidents are on the rise since the pandemic began. Not only are large corporations at risk, but so are small-to-medium sized businesses, which often have weaker cybersecurity measures in place and are therefore more vulnerable. 

Choosing an event planner and technical team that are conscious of cyber security is essential. Furthermore, virtual attendees, keynote speakers and employees alike need to have a similar focus on cyber security. Any vulnerability, no matter from which side it comes from, can potentially be exploited by a malicious hacker. 

Use a VPN

Consider encrypting your event using a reliable Virtual Private Network and request that your attendees do so as well. There are a variety of free VPN services available and this small step can go a long way in protecting your event. 

A VPN masks the IP address of the user, making it extremely difficult for a hacker to pinpoint details regarding the computer being used. According to cybersecurity expert Ludovic Rembert of Privacy Canada, VPNs are necessary in today’s world for businesses and individuals alike. 

“Businesses and individuals are using VPNs at an increasingly rapid rate,” Ludovic says. “Once upon a time, they were solely by businesses. Nowadays, the average person has much more personal information floating online. A VPN is your only safeguard against savvy cyber criminals.”

It’s your responsibility to make sure that your employees have personal VPNs that can be used in the planning and execution of your event. While you can’t control what your virtual attendees choose to do, it’s always worthwhile to remind them that a VPN is recommended. 

There are many exciting possibilities to tap into with virtual hybrid events for both personal and business purposes. Although they are significantly more time intensive in terms of planning, they have the capacity to not only increase your audience but also to keep your attendees and workers safer. 

This is a guest post written by Nahla Davies from Brooklyn, New York. Since 2015, she has worked with enterprise clients around the world developing RegTech protocols and best practices. She shares her insights at Follow Nahla on LinkedIn.

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