Over the course of the pandemic, the events industry was forced to pivot almost entirely to virtual in order to stay afloat. Planners across the world were required to upskill and take on new challenges, which resulted in many incredible virtual events taking place. Now, as we gladly return to a life with no lockdowns or restrictions, hybrid events have well and truly become our 'new normal' as in-person interaction remains paramount to all of us.
There are many different types of hybrid event, from parties to product launches. In this piece, we discuss a couple of the most popular formats and share some of the best hybrid event examples we saw in 2021.
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What is a hybrid event?
There are plenty of benefits of holding hybrid events, including:
- Increased reach
- Increased flexibility
- Enhanced ROI
- Increased sponsor value
- Lower carbon footprint
There are several key areas that need to be considered when planning a hybrid event. For example, you'll need a venue for the in-person delegates, as well as a reliable virtual event platform for the digital side.
You'll also need to consider the content you want to offer your delegates, as well as think about sponsorship, networking, and entertainment. Finding the right tools for audience engagement is also important. You may also want to consider monetising your event.
It's important to bear in mind that a hybrid event isn’t just live-streaming the in-person event, but creating two channels of engagement. Both channels need to be able to hold the audience’s attention or you risk losing a sizeable chunk of your audience.
For guidance on the planning process from venue sourcing to project management, check out our ultimate guide to hybrid events.
A hybrid conference is an event, usually with multiple rooms or 'tracks', in which speakers discuss a range of content topics during the event. This content could take the form of a panel discussion, workshop, hackathon, Q&A or keynote session, and will usually be attended by in-person delegates whilst simultaneously being streamed to a virtual audience. There is usually some form of networking throughout the day and post-event too.
Below are some examples of some successful hybrid conferences.
Following on from a successful virtual edition in 2020, EventLAB by Hire Space was held as a hybrid event in 2021 for the first ever time. The event aimed to bring together event planners, venues and suppliers with in-person and online thought leadership content, with the aim of supporting and guiding them through the ‘new normal’.
Expert talks and panel discussions took place all day, which were streamed to virtual delegates via Hire Space’s virtual event platform, Arena. Arena allowed virtual delegates to network, visit the exhibitors, participate in the content and ask questions, as well as vote in polls and even leave emoji reactions! There were also virtual and in-person team building activities to connect both audiences.
“From an online viewer perspective I thought the production was fab. The quality of the content was high enough to keep me engaged all day, great job.” - EventLAB 2021 attendee
New Experience Horizons by Amplience
Amplience, a technology-focused content management company, chose to host their event ‘New Experience Horizons’ at The Science Museum in London back in October.
As well as an in-person audience, AV provider White Light were brought on board to live-stream the full programme to the virtual audience, making sure to capture different camera angles to make them feel they were in the room with the speakers.
There were also some virtual-only sessions especially for the US audience, as well as providing on-demand, pre-recorded videos so virtual attendees could access additional valuable content. Amplience also hosted a live giveaway at the end of the virtual event!
#FinCon21 was a hybrid digital marketing event for finance content creators. Taking place last September in Austin, Texas, the event was heavily focused on networking and put several tools in place to ensure virtual and in-person attendees could interact. For example, attendees could communicate via video chat and messaging, as well as log into the 'FinCon Central hub', which included exhibits, live podcasting and video booths accessible to both audiences.
The content was presented both in person and online, featuring main stage sessions and 60+ breakout sessions. All content was recorded and is freely available online, with more than 65 hours of 'business-changing strategies and ideas'.
Software company Gainsight held their hybrid Pulse Everywhere event in June 2021, which featured over 140 speakers across 11 tracks over the course of 3 days in San Francisco.
The event offered both free and paid ticket options for both virtual and in-person audiences. The free option enabled access to content sessions, exhibitor booths, and networking, whereas the paid option gave access to vouchers, VIP fireside chats and other perks.
To encourage inter-audience interaction, Gainsight offered virtual 'speed networking', and ensured their content stream was high quality by working with a professional production team. The content is also available on-demand on their website.
Global health and fitness association IHRSA delivered an epic hybrid event back in October 2021 in Texas. Welcoming almost 4,000 in-person attendees and 220 exhibitors, there was a comprehensive virtual and in-person programme so that members across the world could participate.
As well as streaming all the content, IHRSA made sure they were inclusive of their audience and offered translation in five languages and captioning. Virtual attendees also received exclusive virtual content, such as four regional CEO panel discussions and virtual visits to 10 of the best health clubs in the world. Both audiences were given extended on-demand access to selective sessions.
From Yes To I Do Bridal Show
US-based events agency Tender Moments hosted a hybrid version of their annual bridal show back in October. Rather than having virtual and live audiences attending simultaneously, this show took a unique asynchronous approach, whereby the in-person and virtual components took place on different occasions. The first day of the event was solely virtual attendees, whilst the second day was entirely in-person.
The virtual day included bridal content, workshops (including dance lessons!), exhibitors, as well as prizes and giveaways for attendees. The content was streamed to a private Facebook group. The in-person event took place a few days later and involved more of the same as well as a sponsored fashion show. Running the event in this way ensured everyone could attend and that there was something for everyone.
Hybrid Product Launches
Apple Special Events
Ok, so we're cheating a little on this one. This event took place in 2019, but it's such a great example of a hybrid event that we couldn't not mention it. Since their conception, Apple Special Events have been live-streamed around the world to tech enthusiasts introducing the latest products and technology. But 2019's edition was a record-breaker.
1,000 in-person delegates and two million virtual attendees tuned in to watch CEO Tim Cook unveil a range of brand new products. Talk about audience engagement.
The reach of this event perfectly demonstrated the power of inviting a virtual audience to product launches and big company updates. We're excited to see what Apple do next in the hybrid space.
Hybrid Community Events
London EV Show
The London EV Show brought together over 2000 attendees for their hybrid community event centred around electric cars. The event aimed to bring together leading industry professionals and EV enthusiasts from around the world.
The show took place at London's Business Design Centre in December and included 68 exhibitors, a car showcase and valuable content around electric vehicles. The event was streamed to the virtual audience and also included forum discussions and Q&As to keep virtual attendees engaged.
There is over 20 hours of content available to watch on-demand for the community around the world.
I hope we've inspired you to start planning or thinking about your own hybrid events. For more guidance, don't forget to check out our ultimate guide, or get in touch below to speak to one of our hybrid experts.
Izzie brings a deep understanding of the events world to Hire Space, and keeps busy by writing lots of Hire Space and EventLAB content and managing the Hire Space social media presence.