How to Hybrid in the Wake of COVID-19
It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has, as we all know, hit the business events industry with unprecedented force. Around the globe, events professionals have been faced with lockdowns and health concerns forcing event cancellations from March well into the summer. As the world begins to open back up, we’re faced with addressing the business case for meetings while allowing for safe interaction of attendees. Depending on the slated dates, location and attendee profile of the event, many planners have determined that it’s impractical to achieve the needed attendance at an exclusively live event and are moving towards transitioning their programs to hybrid offers. It’s important to consider several aspects of planning while making this transition.
While making a selection for your hybrid meeting technology partner, it’s important to consider a number of factors. First and foremost, you need to identify what you’re looking to accomplish during the meeting; are you seeking a platform to simply present your content or do you have sponsors or exhibit halls, breakouts, polling/surveys, networking, etc. Another key factor will be the size of your audience as well as the number of presentations and/or simultaneous presentations you’re looking to include in your meeting. For example, basic webcast platforms like Zoom or Webex will allow for general content dissemination. Though these platforms have some additional features, you may look to a more robust solution that are a bit more tailored to functions like breakout rooms, note taking and social sharing offered by Tallen Technologies or BlueSky. The technology is key to being able to accomplish your hybrid meeting goals.
When building the registration website for a hybrid event, the two main areas of importance are around the registration tracks and the content delivery. In this hybrid event, there is a virtual component that allows attendees to join from anywhere and a live, in-person component that allows attendees to network and engage physically during the event. Potential attendees need to be clearly given the virtual and live attendee registrations paths as options so they may make their decision on preferred method of attendance. It’s important that your participants feel like they have a choice and are comfortable with the participation options so you may want to consider outlining any health and safety measures that you will be taking on-site. If there are price differentials between the live and virtual options, they need to be clearly spelled out and a description of how the attendee experience will differ must also be included.
Hybrid meetings have been proven to generate higher attendance rates than the average in-person meeting, especially in the wake of COVID-19. It’s all in the marketing! Simply express the benefits and flexibility of the hybrid meeting and the attendees will come in the fashion that best suits their situation and risk factors. Allowing everyone who participates in the meeting to experience the same deliverables can prove to be invaluable to the meeting ROI.
Many virtual meeting platforms have integrated interactive multimedia options into their presentations as well as Live Q&A and chat boxes. Participants can be required to take polls and answer/ask questions as they progress through the program to ensure that they understand the material. Additionally, a survey of the attendees prior to the meeting can create a customized approach specific to each participant. If your event typically has a live teambuilding component, there are many solutions available today to achieve this aspect virtually such as trivia games, bingo, adventure games and many other options. Don’t let the fact that you have a virtual component to your meeting restrict your attendee interaction.