Hybrid events are firmly cemented into the post-pandemic events scene, with a study by Splash showing that 79% of companies are planning to add hybrid events to their event strategy going forward. But with many venues and event organisers still to host a hybrid event, knowing how to harness the benefits of hybrid can be a daunting prospect.
White Light Ltd, an AV and production company based in London, has delivered a number of successful hybrid events, including Hire Space's own flagship event EventLAB in 2021. We sat down with their team to get a behind-the-scenes look at the preparation and challenges involved in creating a hybrid event.
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Amplience, a technology-focused content management company, chose to host their event ‘New Experience Horizons – Building Modern Commerce Experiences Without Limits’ at The Science Museum in October 2021. As the approved suppliers for The Science Museum, White Light were brought on board to provide the AV services for the event, and to support on the hybrid aspect of the event delivery.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was postponed by 18 months and re-formatted as a hybrid event, with 70 in-person attendees instead of the original number of 150. This change led to other key requirements, such as the ability to live stream the event to drive more attendance to the event from other regions.
The goal of the event was to assemble some of the leading players in digital business transformation to showcase the best examples of commerce innovation in the industry.
White Light set up Amplience's chosen arrangement of a stage with a lectern, a large 96-inch LED screen at the back of the stage and two additional screens in the Museum’s intimate Smith Centre. They also provided lapel microphones for the speakers, as well as handheld microphones for audience Q&As.
For the virtual element of the event, White Light live-streamed the full programme to the virtual audience of around 100 attendees. The team switched between different camera angles and the speaker slides throughout each session to ensure the virtual attendees were fully engaged and felt part of the action.
Once the event wrapped up, there were some virtual-only sessions especially for a US audience. Amplience also had a bank of on-demand, pre-recorded videos that were produced ahead of time, so virtual attendees could access an additional trove of content. They also hosted a live giveaway at the end of the virtual event.
As this was the first hybrid event Amplience had run with a new virtual platform, it was essential that the White Light team were able to provide full support to make the entire experience seamless. This was facilitated by introducing the team at Amplience's virtual platform partner, Bizzabo, to the White Light AV team, who worked together to make sure they had every eventuality ironed out.
The short lead time of around 8 weeks also meant that the team were under pressure to get to grips with the new technology in a short time period, but good communication with the virtual platform team meant they were able to execute the event smoothly.
The feedback from attendees at the event (both in-person and virtual) was extremely positive. In-person guests felt the event was very professional, ran seamlessly, and the venue and hybrid format were very well received. The virtual experience also looked polished and professional, and Amplience received a lot of positive comments on this.
As with all hybrid events, the importance of careful communication between the technology platform and AV provider is paramount. By introducing White Light to the virtual platform team as early in the process as possible, every aspect of the hybrid event delivery was able to be meticulously planned.
Effective event planning was needed for both the in-person and virtual guests, as the experiences crossed over but weren’t uniformly symmetrical. The extra sessions run exclusively for the virtual attendees served as an additional draw to maximise the appeal of the event for this audience, while more networking sessions for the in-person attendees made the in-room experience worth travelling to for those attendees who were able.
Maddie Dixon, Lead Marketing Manager EMEA, at Amplience, said: "The AV and hybrid element to the event was a big concern for us. But the White Light team are extremely professional and REALLY know their stuff. They weren’t fazed at all by any of our requirements and I truly put it down to them as to why the event ran so smoothly both in-person and virtually."
If you're planning your own hybrid events and want some guidance on planning and delivering engaging content and experiences for both in-person and virtual guests, check out our ultimate guide to hybrid events or get in touch for more support.