Hybrid events let you give attendees the option to join in-person or online.
Here are some tips for keeping both on-site and online attendees engaged during the event.
By Michelle Schweitz, Marketing Manager, Community Brands
Events have always been a staple for associations. They’re a great way to stay connected with your members. They’re also where members go to learn and network.
But times are changing. And so are events. While some organizations had already seen the value of offering virtual events between in-person events, health concerns over the past 18 months made virtual events a necessity. As in-person events are now staging a comeback, members and associations both see the value of a virtual event option for members who cannot attend on-site due to schedules, budget, health concerns, and other considerations.
Today, you can combine the best of both worlds with hybrid events. Hybrid events allow attendees to join in-person or online. One of the tricks of pulling off a successful hybrid event is engaging both in-person and virtual audiences.
Tips for engaging both audiences for your association’s hybrid events
Even with a small staff, your association can keep both audiences engaged with your hybrid events. Here are some tips for engaging each audience:
For virtual attendees
- Offer exclusive virtual-only interviews with industry experts, or panel discussions with thought leaders.
- Have an online green room where virtual attendees can have exclusive access to presenters for Q&A.
- Enable virtual attendees to make appointments with exhibitors.
- Allow virtual attendees to ask live questions during sessions.
- Ask registered virtual attendees for questions ahead of time to incorporate live during sessions or even for a post-session Q&A interview that you stream for virtual attendees.
TIP: YourMembership association management software is integrated with Pathable, a hybrid event platform to help you plan, promote and power your hybrid events with one tool.
For in-person attendees
- Schedule special meal-time activities or sessions.
- Offer live networking events.
- Allow sponsors to plan receptions or happy hours.
- Provide live entertainment (which you can also live stream for virtual attendees).
TIP: Using the YourMembership AMS mobile event app, you can keep attendees engaged through surveys, polls, and audience response systems that assist with learning, awareness, and overall participation.
Encouraging engagement and networking between in-person and online attendees
Another way to engage both audiences for your hybrid events is to encourage networking between the two audiences. Here are some ideas:
- Allow virtual attendees to participate or ask questions during presentations.
- Run polls in which both in-person and virtual attendees can participate.
- Enable networking and connections through an event mobile app and your online community.
- Host a networking room where in-person attendees can stop by and visit with virtual attendees via video chat.
- Provide individual tablets to in-person attendees to allow for one-on-one exchanges with virtual audience members
Continuously improving audience engagement for your hybrid events
After your hybrid event is over, there are some steps you can take to make audience engagement for your next one even better:
- Collect engagement data from your virtual events technology provider and your email marketing tool.
- Survey your attendees, sponsors, speakers, volunteers, and staff to find out what worked and what didn’t.
- Host a debrief meeting with your team to review the survey responses and analyze the data.
- Create a list of positive items to continue and a list of items to consider changing for the next event.
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.