Just like many other industries, 2020 brought major changes to the world of events. Event organizers adapted, in large part, by pivoting from the live format to virtual and hybrid events. While live events have made a comeback, virtual and hybrid events are here to stay. And that’s because of the huge advantages they offer businesses in every industry.
What Is a Hybrid Event?
Live events happen in a physical venue, while virtual events happen entirely online. Hybrid events combine both formats to produce an experience that happens in both spaces. Any kind of event, small or large, can be a hybrid. For instance, if a roundtable discussion or a meeting is livestreamed to an online audience, it’s hybrid because it’s happening both in the physical and online worlds.
Hybrid events have rapidly become much more sophisticated in terms of the online content they offer. When big annual industry events first began to offer online content, it was mostly as an afterthought. Only a small fraction of event content was available to view online, with most reserved for the physical event.
Now, hybrid events can offer a much wider range of event content both live and online and allow attendees to choose how they want to access that content. For some events, this means offering two separate ticket packages, so attendees can attend either the in-person version or the online one. A more versatile option is to sell tickets that offer access to all content in both formats and let attendees choose how they want to access each content type.
As the hybrid format matures, it’s becoming more flexible and allowing attendees to make more choices about how they consume event content, which makes a hybrid event both attractive and memorable.
Why Choose the Hybrid Format for Your Next Event?
Opting for a hybrid format gives people the flexibility to choose how they want to attend. Those who want to attend the live event can do so, while others can attend from home, and still enjoy a satisfying event experience.
Essentially, the hybrid format allows you to take advantage of the benefits of both live and virtual events:
Interactive and highly engaging
Excellent networking opportunities
With no travel or accommodation costs, virtual events have fewer barriers to attendance. An event that takes place online can potentially have a global audience.
Virtual events offer opportunities for data collection and attendee behavior analysis that live events cannot yet match.
The main benefit that sets hybrid apart from purely in-person and purely digital experiences is the choice it affords potential attendees. Whatever their reasons for choosing one format or the other, they will be grateful to have the option—and that option is hugely attractive to many people.
Should I Opt for a Hybrid Event Over a Virtual Format?
Both live and virtual events have their own specific advantages—and choosing the hybrid format means getting to take advantage of all the benefits of both formats. However, there’s often more work involved in planning a hybrid event, as well as a bigger budget requirement.
In the last few years, many organizers chose to go virtual over physical for public health reasons, but as things return to normal, when does it make sense to choose the hybrid format over the virtual one?
Generally, it makes the most sense in situations where you have an existing live event that you want to transform or take to the next level. Planned and priced correctly, a hybrid approach is also the best when you want to maximize attendance. People who want to reduce traveling costs or distance or who have packed schedules can attend online, and those who want a traditional event experience can attend in person.
Taking Into Account the Two Sides of Hybrid Events
Every event, from a meeting to a conference or trade show, needs a suitable venue. The same is true for virtual events, which naturally makes it true of hybrid events too.
In-person and virtual events each have their own planning challenges, but each kind of event takes place in a single kind of environment: either a physical venue or online on a virtual platform. A hybrid event takes place in both environments.
Because a hybrid event combines the live and the virtual, it has some additional logistical challenges. Your physical venue must be set up to accommodate its live audience, but you must also plan for a way to bring the live venue online for virtual attendees. This means having a production crew at the venue to capture and record live content, as well as organizing a virtual platform to host the content online. It may also mean hosting online content for sponsors, exhibitors, and other partners, in addition to having physical booths at a live venue.
The need to translate the physical elements into a virtual sphere is what makes hybrid event planning more complicated. And this is what makes your choice of event platform such an important one.
XtendLive’s Expertise Lets You Plan for Hybrid Event Success
With the right event planning team and a 3D immersive virtual platform, you can cut through the details to streamline the planning and execution of your event to perfection.
You want XtendLive on your side. We don’t just have the tech expertise for successful virtual event planning. We don’t just have an incredibly flexible and immersive 3D virtual event platform ready to go or fully customizable. In ProGlobalEvents and ProExhibits, we also have teams that are skilled in experiential marketing, live event planning, and exhibit and event design.
Our combined expertise makes us perfectly placed to design and execute hybrid events on any scale. Here are just some of the things we can bring to your next hybrid event:
- Event registration management
- Event conceptualization and design
- Live venue and site selection, contract negotiation, and coordination
- Staffing and labor management and coordination
- Site setup, including electrical, Wi-Fi, A/V, and technical expertise
- Custom exhibit design and manufacture, including permanent and mobile environments
- Exhibit and equipment storage, maintenance, and transport
- Public health protective solutions for live venues
- Virtual/hybrid content production, including content and media development and broadcast production and support
- The XtendLive virtual platform, a 3D immersive event environment that puts virtual attendees in an engaging and interactive online event world
How the XtendLive Event Platform Makes Hybrid Worth It for Your Attendees
Choosing the right venue is key to the success of a live event. For the virtual elements of a hybrid event, your choice of venue is equally important. In this case, the venue is an event platform that can seamlessly host, organize, and display virtual content to an online audience.
The simplest kind of virtual event space is a web conferencing platform such as Zoom, or a webinar app like BlueJeans. However, these kinds of apps are limited in what they can do. If you’re planning a larger event such as a trade show or conference, they won’t meet your needs. Especially if you’re planning a hybrid event.
Producing a successful hybrid event means staging a live event in a physical venue and simultaneously broadcasting event content that’s attractive to an online audience. The best way to do that is with a purpose-built event platform that lets online attendees engage with event content and with each other, just like people do at your in-person event.
XtendLive’s event platform is designed to facilitate engaging, satisfying attendee interactions. We develop three-dimensional, interactive environments that are both highly customizable and infinitely scalable. Attendees access content with a first-person viewpoint of the virtual venue. And attendee engagement is a core element of our designs because we understand just how vital it is that your virtual audience stays engaged and focused.
What Kinds of Hybrid Events Can Run on the XtendLive Virtual Platform?
The XtendLive event platform is highly flexible. We offer a range of template environments, all of which are adaptable and scalable, and have plenty of branding opportunities. Or opt for the custom hybrid option, and we’ll design a virtual venue that includes all the elements you need and dovetails perfectly with your live vent venue.
Our core platform can be heavily customized to fit your needs and scales to any size—so we can work with you to fit your design brief. And it can power any kind of virtual event, from roundtables, panel discussions, and meetings to training and education sessions, exhibitions, trade shows, and conferences.
What Kinds of Content Can My Hybrid Event Use?
The best digital experience platforms support a wide range of content, including
- Video Chat
- Pre-recorded Video
- And more
Have something special you want for your hybrid event? Let us know; we’ll do our best to help you make it happen.
The XtendLive platform also includes a content management system to help you manage the virtual side of your hybrid event. With this system, you can easily add and manage content and create a seamless experience for virtual attendees.
Need more from us? Just ask. We can also help with hybrid content production, including
- Media and content creation
- Set design
- Scripting and direction
- Talent acquisition
- Speaker coaching
XtendLive’s Virtual Platform Is Interactive and Engaging
In-person events are inherently interactive, which makes it relatively easy to keep attendees engaged and focused on the event. Once your event goes online, that’s much harder to do. Encouraging engagement is vital because when your audience’s engagement is high, it means you have their attention. They’re actively listening, and absorbing information—as well as your brand messaging.
Keeping engagement high is difficult online. People are watching via their computers—an inherently less engaging way to attend an event, as compared to in a room with hundreds of other people. Virtual event engagement tends to dip sooner and drop at a faster rate. As engagement drops, so does your attendees’ ability to absorb information. If it drops low enough, they’ll switch off entirely. For virtual events and the online elements of hybrid events, it’s important to make attendee engagement a core focus of your content.
As veterans of the event industry, we understand why engagement is so important. That’s why it’s a huge part of the XtendLive platform. Interactive elements that boost engagement are part of every digital experience we design. These elements make it easy for attendees to explore the virtual event environment and interact with the content they discover. We also add elements that encourage people to interact with one another, to help the virtual world feel even more lifelike. Together, these interactive elements boost attendee engagement and keep people focused, entertained, and ready to enjoy—and remember—event content.
Integrate Sponsored Content Within the Virtual World
Sponsored content such as booths, speakers, and sessions are a common feature of live events. They’re equally at home in virtual and hybrid events too. XtendLive’s 3D environments offer lots of space for inserting sponsored brand messaging. And we can design virtual versions of your sponsor’s live booths, to showcase their products and services and provide sponsored brand experiences online.
ROI Proves Hybrid Event Success
Event success depends on meeting your event goals, performing well against KPIs, and profitability. Methods of measuring ROI for live events is well-defined, but how do you measure ROI for the virtual component of a hybrid event?
With XtendLive’s digital experience platform, this part of the job is simplified, thanks to integrated analytics tools that let you measure KPIs both during and after the event.
Get More from Your Hybrid Event
Holding a hybrid event, as opposed to a purely physical one, gives you an additional means of continuing to build ROI even after your event is over. Recorded event content can be repackaged and repurposed for new marketing purposes. And you can use it to continue driving website traffic to boost attendee retention—helping you prove event ROI to attract new sponsors and exhibitors.
Some ways to do this include:
Contact XtendLive to Plan a Hybrid Event Everyone Will Remember
Whether you’re planning a hybrid event from scratch or want to take your traditional event to new heights by going hybrid, XtendLive can help! Check out demos of our virtual event platform, and contact us to talk to a team member about building a hybrid event that’s engaging and immersive for both live and virtual attendees.