10 great hybrid event ideas to engage a global audience

The novel coronavirus pandemic brought the events industry to its knees. In light of these developments, event planners were forced to adopt a hybrid model overnight as social distancing measures and travel restrictions were increasingly tightened.

But even as the effects of the pandemic begin to ease thanks to vaccine roll-outs, hybrid events, which have proven to be economical, sustainable, and scalable, are hopefully here to stay.

If you need help coming up with fun hybrid event ideas, this guide is for you.

What is a hybrid event?

As the name suggests, a hybrid event combines the characteristics of both virtual and physical events. In other words, the event takes place both in an online and offline setting simultaneously.

A live audience who wants to participate in a conference centre can do so. At the same time, remote participants who are unable to be there in person can dial in via a virtual events platform.

For example, a company hosting an in-person conference in London and live-streaming its sessions and keynotes to a global online audience would be considered a hybrid event.   

Hybrid events could be conferences, lectures, fairs, seminars, trade shows, training sessions, workshops, meetings, and so forth. Traditionally, these types of events have always been in-person rather than virtual. Now, thanks to advances in technology, event planners have figured out how to combine the best of both worlds.

So why do people go hybrid? It could be because there isn’t enough space to accommodate everyone, or the host wants to reduce travel costs. This is especially true when international participants who might be unable to attend due to various factors are involved.

What are the advantages of going hybrid? The advantages of hybrid meetings are vast. Flexibility is arguably the most important benefit of adopting a hybrid approach. Regardless of how attendees choose to participate, they have similar opportunities to engage with one another.

Secondly, hybrid platforms enable increased participation because there is no limit to the number of online attendees.

Thirdly, hybrid models are more accessible than face-to-face only events. With an option to join an event virtually, those who live with disabilities won’t have to face any barrier to attending the meeting.

Finally, hybrid events can significantly cut an organisation’s overhead costs. Operational expenses like utilities, office supplies, and tea breaks rise steadily when you conduct in-person-only meetings.

hybrid events

How hybrid events open up global opportunities for your business

The shift from in person events to hybrid model has brought plenty of opportunities, including more international representation. With that in mind, let’s look at how this approach can open up global opportunities for your business.    

Hybrid events mean less travel

The major advantage of hybrid meetings is that they remove the need to travel. A face-to-face meeting is wasteful, and honestly, unnecessary in this day and age.

Instead of taking a week to travel overseas to present a report – which results in lost productivity –you can do so through a videoconferencing app. Less travel means less spending on food, accommodation, and flights. These costs that could have hindered attendees’ from attending a live event are no longer a problem.

You get more opportunities

Traditional events were not always ideal for people with disabilities, busy schedules, ill health, and people who live far away from the venue. The move to host these events both physically and virtually means that many people can now participate in networking opportunities. The hybrid system has challenged the conventional wisdom that networking can only happen in a physical meeting space.     

Lower carbon footprint

Sustainability is becoming vital for all organisations, across all industries. It attracts global investors, reduces waste, increases productivity, and enhances its compliance with the regulation.

With optimised internet connections and lower carbon emissions, research shows that virtual events are a better option. Less air travel, less food waste, less commute, and less land travel, means less greenhouse emission.  

Leverage global talent

Virtual teams allow businesses to search for talents internationally. This brings together specialists and experts from across the world to work together on specific projects. Greater innovation and increased knowledge sharing occur as business’ attendees share their knowledge of local and global markets.      

More sponsorship opportunities

A virtual event and engagement is a wonderful avenue for a business to tap into sponsorship deals. This offers you the opportunity to boost sponsor revenue and ROI.  

What are the future possibilities for hybrid events?

So what will hybrid events look like in the future? How will it evolve? And what can event organisers do to prepare for this next normal? First, traditional, in-person, and virtual meetings aren’t going anywhere even after the pandemic.

Experts anticipate the emergence of omnichannel events, where rather than having two methods like videoconferencing and in-person, events in the future will incorporate multiple options.

Some people will be physically present in an event, some will use video conferencing to attend events virtually, and others will participate via mobile phone or instant messaging.  

As hybrid events shift to an omnichannel model, it is crucial for event companies to have the necessary infrastructures and technology capabilities in place to deliver a fantastic experience to everybody. 

virtual studio

10 engaging hybrid event ideas

An excellent hybrid event idea can help you enhance engagement with industry leaders, clients, and team members. Below we cover the top 10 hybrid event ideas that are sure to wow both your in-person and remote audience. These ideas came from real-world examples from a range of industries.

  • Choosing a hybrid event platform

Finding a virtual and hybrid events platform that can be a long-term solution is a necessity rather than a priority. Identify which features and tools will help you achieve your goals.

If your goal is to encourage networking among in-person and virtual attendees, choose platforms built for interactions and feature tools like Q&A and polling to engage the attendees. Here are some of the must-have features:  

  • Data analytics  
  • Integrations    
  • Virtual Production Services   
  • Agenda builder
  • Event promotion    
  • Sponsor/Speaker management·        
  • Registration and ticketing
  • Privacy and security provisions

At Eclipse we have a test platform you can try to help you find the platform that works best for you, give it a try!

Make a clear plan

There is nothing worse than experiencing technical glitches at a hybrid event gathering. Virtual attendees are likely to disengage when a platform begins to misbehave due to technical issues.

Holding a rehearsal is the best way to find out what might go wrong. Hiring an excellent technical support team is key to running a successful virtual event that is unlikely to experience bugs or glitches. Also, it’s essential to share the agenda in advance with those who will attend so that everybody can prepare.  

Live games or competitions

Use games and competitions to engage attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors. The Salesforce’s World Tour Sydney Reimagined virtual event organisers implemented a live “battle of the apps” competition between exhibitors.

They allowed the audience to vote and choose the winner to boost the overall excitement further. The competition created post-event excitement as participants continued to check the event’s social media pages to see results.

Set the rules of the road  

Set up the rules and circulate them to both in-person and virtual attendees before the event. An uncontrollable meeting, where someone tries to dominate the conversation or everyone talks simultaneously, usually leads to chaos. You will online need moderators to ensure virtual participants tolerate others and respect each other.

How Can We Help You?

Avoid the stress of event planning, and contact your friendly team at Eclipse for a free consultation today. Anything is possible and we always go the extra mile to make your event one to be remembered.

Consider shorter sessions

The virtual attendees will likely have more distractions and shorter attention spans than a F2F audience. Lengthy sessions are draining and tiring. Both in-person and virtual audiences will appreciate having time to network or getting breaks. So make sure you build in short breaks that allow attendees to stretch to keep interest levels up.

Don’t promise on-demand content playback

To create an engaging and successful hybrid event, don’t promise free recordings for those that can’t make it to the event. Doing this gives virtual attendees the right to log out early because they’ll watch the replay later. When you don’t offer them a recording, they are more likely to stay calm and engaged throughout the live event.

Consider time zones

One challenge presented by a widely distributed event attendance is time. If you’re running a hybrid event, it’s easy to disregard that not everyone is joining from the same location. It’s not easy to collaborate and communicate while attending the meeting from different time zones. That’s why it’s of paramount importance to plan ahead carefully.  

When you set up your hybrid event agenda, ensure to clearly state the time zone of your event to avoid frustration or confusion. Choose the time zone where the majority of the attendees are located. If possible, ensure the meeting doesn’t start at odd night hours for anyone. Eclipse can help you find appropriate times.

Build an immersive environment

Hybrid events lack the impact of a more immersive experience for online participants. An immersive experience gives online participants the impression of being in a simulated environment to the extent that it feels like reality. You will need to work with an event organiser to create 3D virtual events that imitate a real-world conference. This way, the virtual attendees will see live 3D product demos.   

Put a comedy show or a concert

Hire a comedian, singer, or band and stream a live concert for your virtual audience. A live performance boosts the mood and energy, making attendees upbeat and engaged throughout the event. It might also be what you need to motivate attendees and give them a break. This will also enable them to share the content they found most valuable.  

Allow attendees to download content

Allow all participants to access the content after the event. Ideally, it’s advisable to put a time limit on availability to drive demand. Show them where to download or watch the recorded event.   

Eclipse Office

How eclipse can help you with your hybrid event

Organising an event isn’t child’s play. To ensure a successful hybrid event is achieved, you can’t just pray and hope things go well. It would be best if you had assurance.

At Eclipse, we help drive clients’ events from beginning to end. We can handle all aspects of in-person and hybrid events and ensure everything runs to plan.

For over 30 years, Eclipse has provided event production and meeting management solutions globally. We serve industry giants like Coca-Cola, Uber, The FA, ITV, Deloitte, and many others who want a well-executed hybrid or in-person event.  

Conclusion

These aren’t the only ideas you need to consider when planning your next hybrid event. You may have specific needs and requirements that are not covered in this guide. While we aren’t yet entirely out of the woods, hybrid events hold the promise to restore the events industry to its former glory.

If you are interested in hosting a hybrid event, you’ll need to work with an event production company that offers a one-stop-shop experience for everyone.

At Eclipse we are a full service event production company that creates highly customisable hybrid events for mid-to-large size businesses, institutions, and organisations globally. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

How Can We Help You?

Avoid the stress of event planning, and contact your friendly team at Eclipse for a free consultation today. Anything is possible and we always go the extra mile to make your event one to be remembered.