Hosting hybrid events can seem challenging when you have a small staff.
Here are four ways to make hybrid event planning easier for your association.
By Christine Bergeron, Marketing Coordinator, Community Brands
If yours is like most associations these days, you’re thinking about offering more hybrid events in the coming years. In the 2021 Association Trends Study by Community Brands, 75 percent of survey respondents who work at professional membership organizations say they are very or somewhat likely to offer more hybrid events in the future.
Moving to a hybrid event format might seem challenging when you have a small staff. But it doesn’t have to be.
Here are four ways to make hybrid event planning easier for your association:
Develop a clear goal.
You might want to reach members who have never attended your annual event. Or, you might want to drive revenue from new sources. Maybe you want to diversify the learning opportunities you offer your members. While you might have multiple goals for your hybrid event, narrow your list to one primary goal. This approach will make it much easier to develop your plan, as it will help to guide your decisions about the event. It will also help you to determine which type of hybrid event to host.
TIP: YourMembership association management software integrates with Pathable, an event platform that helps you plan, promote, and power your hybrid events with one tool.
Your members are the primary audience for your events, so be sure to ask for their input. Getting their feedback will make planning a great hybrid event much easier.
For example, find out how many people are likely to attend your event in-person versus online so you can plan accordingly. Uncover what elements of each experience (in-person and virtual) would give members the engaging experience they seek.
Sending a survey is an effective way to learn what members want in a hybrid event. Build a survey that asks members about event length, content, exhibit hall experience, and other aspects of your event.
TIP: YourMembership AMS has survey functionality built in, making it easy to build and send targeted surveys and get feedback.
Streamline content production.
When it comes to developing hybrid event content, you don’t always have to start from scratch. Of course, you don’t want to just re-hash the same old content most of your members have already seen. But there are ways to make new content creation easier. Here are some ideas:
- Ask industry experts to present about recent industry articles or studies they’ve written, or ask them to lead a discussion about a hot industry topic.
- Use content ideas from your member survey and look at what your members are talking about in your online member community to inspire ideas for session topics.
- Repackage existing content. For example, combine related topics from blog articles or short webinars into a more comprehensive session or workshop.
Volunteers can be a huge help for small associations adopting a new event model like a hybrid event. Here are some tips for recruiting and managing volunteers:
Develop a volunteer job description. To get members to volunteer, you need to ask. But you must be specific about what you’re asking members to do. This starts with a clear description of each volunteer position, which should include a title, an objective, and a list of responsibilities.
Recruit. Once you have volunteer descriptions in place, it’s time to create a recruit. Consider your strategy around:
- Audience – Think about which members likely have the time, skills, and traits required for the position.
- Benefits – Describe what volunteering will do for the volunteer, such as teaching them a skill, having fun, and meeting people.
- Features – These details – such as when, where, doing what, and with whom – should already be defined in your volunteer position descriptions.
- Message – Your writing and graphical elements for recruitment communications should be clear, simple, compelling, and attractive.
- Communications channels – Think about how and when to use your website, blog articles, social media, targeted email campaigns, information sessions, video, and personal asks to get the right volunteer asks to the right people.
Train them. Be sure to run a volunteer orientation and training before the event. This is the best way to set up your volunteers and event for success.
Thank them. Include a thank you in your opening and closing remarks, add a “thank you” message to your post-event email, post a “thank you” on social media, and even send each volunteer a personal thank you email or letter.
TIP: With YourMembership AMS, you can recruit volunteers via your website, emails, and online community, and track who has volunteered for what opportunities through easy-to-use reports.
Even with a small staff, your association can create highly successful hybrid events. Learn more tips for creating great hybrid events: Join YourMembership on October 26 for the CAE Credit webinar, Small Staff, Big Success: Hybrid Events on a Budget.