A Hybrid Event is an Exhibition, Conference, Seminar, Workshop or other event that combines a “live” in-person event with a “virtual” online offering. Ten years ago, many thought that online events would spell the end for Face-To-Face events, however this has not been the case with most National and International Conferences continuing to grow their numbers year on year.
The popularity is increasing for virtual events (and the cost of providing it is coming down), with Hybrid Events becoming a popular way of increasing participation with new audiences. Hybrid Events are particularly effective with delegates who might be unable to attend physically due to travel or work commitments.
Streaming events online, requires a large broadband feed and at least a 4 Megabyte hardline to allow for smooth video content. But it’s not just about putting your sessions online, it’s important to still allow participation from the online audience if it’s being streamed live. Twitter and message boards are often the best way to facilitate this, by ensuring the Q+A session at the end of a seminar/ plenary includes some questions from the online audience.
Make sure your online attendees can participate with the physical attendees
A large number of web based companies have now appeared to assist in the hosting of live video streaming, particularly for events. Websites such as Livestream.com
allow for plug and play Hybrid Events in the same way that YouTube and Vimeo allow for post event video hosting.
Provision of internet access, usually with free Wi-Fi, is important at any event. As well as allowing a physical event to reach a wider audience, online tools also provide a means for physical attendees to interact with each other, with the event organisers and with online participants, and for online participants to interact with each other. Some events have featured ‘TwitterWalls’ where Twitter comments about the event are shared with physical attendees. But be careful that the software you use allows for filtering of unwanted content such as swear words.
The most important thing to remember about online participants to Hybrid Events is that they are attending your event just as much physical participants. Therefore they require the same level of customer service and support that you would provide your physical attendees. Always try and ensure there is a member of staff purely dedicated to monitoring the Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Video Streaming platforms to be able to ask questions and facilitate in discussions.
Hybrid Events are being adopted as most National and International events, if your event hasn’t adopted some of the practises yet it might be worthwhile looking now before you lose the online audience to another event.