Have you heard of the increasingly popular “hybrid events” taking place across the country? If you’re in the event industry and you have yet to consider turning your next event into a hybrid option, you may be missing out on a large audience.
There’s a new audience type to take into consideration when hosting events, speaking at conferences, exhibiting at trade shows, and holding meetings.
This audience includes those who are not attending in-person events (and therefore will miss your event if you only offer an in-person option). This could include buyers who are wary of COVID-19 and are being extra cautious, business teams who are not able to travel due to decreased budgets, venue limitations, or travel restrictions, and customers and clients who are unable to travel because they’ve contracted or been exposed to COVID-19. Read more here about how hybrid solutions can help keep attendance rates up at your next event.
While it’s important that we get back to face-to-face interactions, it’s also necessary to provide an alternative at this time.
Since times have changed, it’s important for businesses to be agile and meet the needs of buyers. This includes offering a hybrid option for those who are unable to attend your events. In addition to making sure that you have cohesive and accessible content for all of your attendees, you’ll also want to ensure that everything is set up to create a seamless experience for you and your audience.
With many new steps to implement in the transition from a completely in-person event to a hybrid event, we’ve laid out some important ones here to keep in mind when executing your next event.
Make separate registration pages.Be sure to create a separate registration page for your in-person attendees and your online attendees. These pages should state clearly who they’re for and be easy to find on your website. Be sure to customize each registration page to its appropriate sessions since there will be different options at certain points of the day. For example, if a networking session is taking place at your in-person event, include an option for your online attendees to enter a chat room so they’re able to engage in a similar way as if they were at your live event.
Promote your virtual attendance option.Make it known that your event is hybrid! If your audience only sees you promoting your live, in-person event on your social platforms, they’ll probably assume that’s the only attendance option, so be vocal about this alternative way for people to attend virtually. You don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to showcase what you can do for qualified buyers! So, make sure it’s known that you’re taking these extra steps for them.
Set new goals.You may have set clear goals for events you’ve held in the past. However, implementing a hybrid event should introduce a new set of goals. One enticing aspect of a hybrid event is being able to reach a larger audience – use this advantage as motivation to set your goals even higher than you have previously. With the opportunity to reach a wider audience, set your goals in accordance with this increased amount of exposure to your content and your brand.
Follow up with all attendees.One mistake that exhibitors make is gathering new leads and then doing nothing with them. While it’s beneficial to get your brand in front of many faces, it’s not going to drive your business’s success alone. Following up with attendees after your event in a timely manner is crucial to continuing your conversation with prospects and growing your business. One perk of hosting a hybrid event is that you can follow up with your online attendees almost immediately. Unlike in-person attendees who have to travel back home, your online attendees will already be in their place of work and more prepared to talk business right away. Remember – the sooner you follow up with attendees after an event, the more top of mind your company and offerings will be.
Track your success.Many exhibitors and event holders host events without taking the time afterward to evaluate how effective it truly was. Don’t make this mistake. While it would be easy to lump both the in-person and virtual successes together, consider evaluating them separately. This will give you a better idea of how you can improve rather than lumping the two together and not knowing where to start since they both offer very different experiences.
Send out a post-event survey to help you understand your attendees’ thoughts on both experiences that were offered. Analytics from your virtual event should be very clear, as you will see which sessions were most popular and engaging. You should also be able to see which attendees were the most consistent in attending sessions, asked the most questions and which content they interacted with most. Use this intel to your benefit!
Stay relevant in your industry and consider hybrid events.While taking the extra step to implement a virtual option into your events may sound like just another thing to add to your plate, it’s a step that is needed if you want to keep up with your industry. While you may think it’s something you can shrug off and assume that you can simply pick up with this ‘at home’ audience when they’re ready to start attending in-person shows again, it’s likely that another business will have already taken the initiative to win them over virtually.
If you are an exhibitor and not a show organizer, and the show organizer isn’t offering the entire event to online attendees as was described here, there are still things you can do as an exhibitor independently to be sure your company is inclusive of that digital audience! Livestream from your exhibit and post it on social media, host your own online happy hour with customers at home, and more. Reach out to our team at Skyline for more ideas! We’re learning the new industry offerings and are here to help you navigate through these tricky times. We’re all in this together!