We recently talked about the importance of setting expectations for the future when it comes to events. One of the arguments behind our thesis was the fear associated with hybrid, the uncertainty surrounding it, what it means, and what it entails. It’s still a common kneejerk reaction for planners to both shrug and shiver when faced with the mere concept of hybrid. The thought process is similar to that of showing a casual bystander a Eurovision performance. It looks cool and flashy, yes. The fireworks are nice, for sure. But what do I do with it?
Well, you can pretty much do whatever you want! One of the best parts of virtual was how it allowed us to break barriers like language and accessibility that we simply couldn’t before. But hybrid is even better because it adds all the pure and genuine aspects of live events on top of that. And once you pull it apart piece by piece instead of blankly staring at the whole, the concept of a hybrid event becomes increasingly less overwhelming.
One of the best pieces of advice we can give you in order to dip your feet into these uncertain and yet exciting waters is to take hybrid for a test run. Summer is finally here, vaccination rollout is looking promising, and small amounts of people can actually get together. So why not plan a mini hybrid event, small in scope, that allows you to fully understand the mechanics behind it? Let’s dive into why this might be the strategy you’ve been looking for.
A Lot Of Cool & Unique Outdoor Venues
When we explained the four hybrid event models, we introduced the idea of unique venues. Traditionally, in-person events were hosted in places like hotels and big convention centers. Nothing wrong with that! We’re sure many of you can’t wait to see the entrance hall of the Hilton again and network with old acquaintances.
But what about those independent venues that you’ve always dreamed of? The ones at the beach, at the planetarium, or in the heart of a city’s historical center? Maybe there was a time when these smaller places weren’t an option. But now that the number of attendees should stay relatively tiny in order to ensure safety and abide by rules, they’re the ideal choice!
You can let creativity be the driver of your first hybrid event by hosting the physical portion in one or several of these unique and cool outdoor venues. It’s easy to make sure every precaution is being taken, health-wise, and it offers your in-person attendees the possibility to be part of a new experience.
People Will Be More Forgiving
Back in March of 2020, the entire industry was doing the impossible – learning how to plan and execute events all over again. And in the early stages of virtual, attendees were extremely forgiving. We were all in this together, in an effort to stay afloat while also providing people with a way to stay connected, learn and still be a part of something bigger.
You can easily expect the same with the first few hybrid events you plan – particularly the small ones. The in-person attendees are just happy to be there, joyous to participate in a live gathering once more. And the virtual audience will be more than excited that they have the option to still attend events they love and find value in without being discarded because they prefer to stay home, aren’t comfortable, or capable to be at the venue.
It’s only natural that you’ll have some hiccups and make a few mistakes – heck, even seasoned planners run into issues during “normal” events. Don’t shy away from planning a hybrid experience because you’re scared of what might go wrong. Instead, bank on the fact that attendees are feeling just a little more forgiving than usual!
Start Understanding The Timing
We’ll be diving deeper into the timeline of a hybrid event in upcoming posts. But for now, if you decide to test your hybrid event this summer, you’ll obviously be in a bit of a rush. Thankfully, this kind of experience would be something on a small scale, essentially condensing what would be a bigger event into its baby version – just minus the dirty diapers and midnight feedings.
This will allow you to roughly understand the timing behind all of these moving parts. Hire your production partners as soon as possible and have them talk you through the entire process – how long does it take to find a venue or studio? Which platform would be ideal for the remote attendees? How can we bridge the gap between audiences?
Above everything else, use this little experiment as a vehicle for learning. Take mental notes consistently on what a hybrid event demands from both sides – virtual and live – and how long you would need to make it happen if it were to take on a bigger, more imposing, and demanding, shape.
A First Look Into Costs & Budgeting
Similarly, use this test drive to get a broader understanding of costs. A hybrid event doesn’t exactly go for cheap, and while most planners seem to be aware of that, it’s still a very loose concept. Why is it more expensive than a traditional live event? Where does the bulk of the money go and why? What are you now realizing that needs to be budgeted for that you didn’t even think about prior to planning this smaller event?
Once again, use every step of the way in planning as an opportunity to learn, grow, make mistakes, and understand what works and doesn’t work with hybrid. Working with the right partners will also help you comprehend cost allocation and what a larger scope would mean for your future budgets.
In Conclusion: When In Doubt, Test It Out!
We are finally living in a time of hope. In a time where good things finally seem to be coming our way. A time for learning and growing and making mistakes that will get us to an even better place. All in all, this is the perfect opportunity for you to go ahead and slowly dive into the waters of hybrid events.
With the right partners by your side and an open mind, the summer of 2021 can very well be the time when you understand the hows and whys of hybrid and finally open the doors to an exciting new age of events. The old adage of “if you never try, then you’ll never know” rings truer than ever. Use this opportunity to take hybrid for a spin and you might just be surprised by the results!