There’s more than one type of hybrid event. Which one is right for you?
Read on to learn more about different hybrid event formats and what to consider when selecting the right one for your organization.
By Christine Bergeron, Marketing Coordinator, Community Brands
Hybrid events are a valuable tool for associations. They allow you to give your members the ability to choose the attendance option (in-person or online) that best fits with their schedule, budget, health concerns, and expectations.
But, did you know that there’s more than one kind of hybrid event your organization can offer? How do you decide which one is right for your small association?
Let’s dig into both of these questions.
Types of hybrid events
It’s not unusual to talk about hybrid events in the broadest terms – events that are offered with both an online and in-person attendance option. However, there are different ways you can structure hybrid events. Here are some examples:
- An event with two different attendee experiences (online and in-person) going on at the same time
- An in-person event with sessions and other activities/ that are live-streamed to virtual attendees
- An in-person event, with on-demand content offered afterward for those who want to see the content virtually
- An in-person event and a virtual event – with similar content and branding, but on different days
Within these different formats, you might have variations as well. For example:
- Different speakers for virtual audiences than for in-person audiences
- Different content types for each audience – for example, in-person content might be presented as hands-on or workshop learning, while virtual content might be presented in a lecture or panel format
TIP: YourMembership association management software integrates with Pathable, an event platform that helps you plan, promote, and power your hybrid events with one tool.
What to consider when choosing a hybrid event format for your association
There are several factors to consider when selecting a format for your hybrid event. And, each hybrid event you host might be a different format depending on these factors.
Here are some things to think about:
How will you customize the experience for each audience?
Consider how the format of your hybrid event will allow attendees to make choices throughout their event experience. For example, how can you create separate tracks of sessions with different topic themes, and allow them to select among concurrent breakout sessions?
How will you engage each audience?
One of the tricks of pulling off a successful hybrid event is engaging both in-person and virtual audiences. So, be sure to think about how you can provide a valuable, interactive, and engaging experience no matter how your attendees participate. This should include a mix of things like:
- Live Q&A
- Breakout discussions
TIP: Using the YourMembership association management software mobile event app, you can keep attendees engaged through surveys, polls, and audience response systems that assist with learning, awareness, and overall participation.
How will you provide networking opportunities for each audience?
One of the top reasons people choose to attend an event is for networking opportunities. As you think about the type of hybrid event you’ll host, consider how you will provide networking opportunities among virtual attendees, among in-person attendees, and between both audiences.
TIP: YourMembership membership management software includes online member community functionality to help you increase engagement and outreach as well as networking. You can use your online member community to build engagement among and between event attendees.
What ways will the two audiences be able to interact with sponsors/exhibitors?
Sponsors and exhibitors are an important part of your events. They connect your event attendees with the goods and services they’re seeking. They also connect companies in your industry with valuable prospective customers. Take time to think about how you can offer ways for sponsors and exhibitors to interact with attendees based on the type of hybrid event you’re considering.
What content do you plan to offer, and which type of hybrid event best suits the content?
The nature of your event content might point you to a specific type of hybrid event. For example, if most of your content will be in lecture or panel formats, then an in-person event with live-streamed sessions or post-conference on-demand sessions might work well. If you have a wide variety of content, you might want to offer a different experience for each audience at the same time.
How many people do you anticipate attending in person vs. online?
This is an important consideration. If you think you’ll have many more attendees in person, for example, then you might want to focus more resources on the in-person event experience, and vice-versa.
Knowing what to expect can be tricky, though – especially if you have not hosted many (or any) hybrid events in the past. Sending a survey to your members and other past event attendees can help you gauge how many attendees to expect overall and for each audience.
TIP: YourMembership AMS has survey functionality built in, making it easy to build and send targeted surveys and get feedback.
Even with a small staff, your association can create highly successful hybrid events. Learn more tips for creating great hybrid events: Read The Small Association’s Ultimate Guide to Hybrid Events.