Currently, there are a dozen or so hybrid event platforms available to events professionals as they plan and execute their events. Choosing one platform over the other can be quite a task as many factors occur during this decision-making process.
Factors such as cost, CMS capabilities, integrations with existing web technologies, and workflow requirements.
And with the development of new applications for web technology is almost created daily, it is easy to lose sight of what is essential in a hybrid event solution.
An excellent place to start with your research is considering best practices that have been established by others who have already made their choice on various features related to event planning and execution.
This article will focus on some considerations before choosing a platform, some things you will want to address in the mid-planning stage, and some factors you’ll want to address in the post-event phase.
What Does Hybrid Events Mean?
Imagine a scenario where developers have two products, Product A and Product B.
Product A is a well-tested product that can be relied upon to produce reliable results, whereas Product B has been at the experimental stage for quite some time. As such, the reliability of its output cannot be guaranteed.
To enable both Products A and B to work alongside each other, they must coordinate their efforts through an intermediary. This way, if one of them produces incorrect data or behaves unexpectedly, it should not cause too much disruption for other applications within the system.
This intermediary leverages a new type of event called a Hybrid Event which is unique in that it facilitates communication between two different products using a shared language. In this sense, every Hybrid Event can serve as an intermediate communication mechanism.
Pre-Event Hybrid Considerations
Imagine this scenario:
You are about to plan your third annual conference, where the attendees will come from three different continents across Europe, North America, and the Asia Pacific.
You have covered all of your logistics out of necessity, venue location, hotel accommodations at a reasonable distance from the venue for overnight guests, food options within walking distance of the site during breaks, transportation for mobile devices around the site (such as laptops), etc.
However, based on your event marketing research, you need an application that will provide several critical features to ensure your full-conference attendees have a fantastic experience.
The list of must-have capabilities you, as the planner, require includes:
- A mobile app that allows for sharing of session content and networking between sessions.
- Scheduling tool integration – integration with your Outlook calendar to match time zones.
- Integration with social media accounts so planning committees can post and share meaningful content and information throughout the event planning cycle.
- Pre-event registration system allows attendees to register before the actual conference starts to access all of their materials on day one, which is usually filled up faster than any other day of the event. With this approach, you will save time in line management when your attendee services team checks attendees in at the registration kiosks. You will also reduce the likelihood of attendees having to wait in line on the day when your top-level speakers are speaking.
- Self-service check-in system.
- Attendee directory – an online product where attendees can share their profiles through text, images, videos, and more.
- Interactive voting tools that enable your planners to engage with event participants in real-time.
- Geolocation service for session content sharing based on the location of the attendee.
- Online sign-up sheets for stand-up presentations allow potential presenters to see what sessions are available when they would like to give a presentation. This eliminates double booking or confusion around who is presenting what during assigned session time slots.
Conferences are only one example of an event that would benefit from a hybrid event platform with features like these. Any large-scale meeting, festival/festival-level conference, or a multi-day single event can help from having these tools available on the platform you choose to use on your project.
If not for all attendees (some attendees may not be interested in some or any of the technology), then at least for specific groups based on their interests and behaviors.
When choosing a hybrid event solution, it is best to consider what features will improve participants’ overall experience rather than just focusing on how they can help planners throughout the process.
Consider what new technologies could do to enhance people’s experiences on the ground at your event and those participating virtually from a remote location. Consider which features will help improve processes for everyone involved at your event, not just planners and sponsors.
Mid-Event Hybrid Considerations
In addition to pre-event considerations, you should choose a platform that has mid-event capabilities as well. For example, if your goal is to increase engagement between attendees and speakers during sessions, you can select a platform with live polling technology or chat/Q&A opportunities.
A hybrid event platform where your planners can quickly add these features is vital when you need something last minute or want to test out new technology during the middle of your events cycle.
Planning for live polls, chat/Q&A opportunities, and other interactive elements takes a lot of forward-thinking and effort from long before the actual event begins, which is why choosing the right platform for your event is so important.
Post-Event Hybrid Considerations
There are reasons you want to choose a hybrid solution that goes beyond pre and mid-event considerations, though. When it comes to the long-term use of your digital platform selected in an ongoing capacity, one of the most important things you should consider is access to event data in the form of reporting analytics after it’s all said and done.
If you can’t take advantage of this sort of reporting when using the technology throughout your event planning process, there seems little point in choosing a hybrid or digital platform at all.
It’s also essential for planners to access event data after events are over because it helps them improve on future events. This is especially important for enhancing marketing and attracting attendees who might be interested in your events in the future so you can build for the long term.
Takeaways for Choosing a Hybrid Events Platform
When choosing a hybrid event solution, planners absolutely should consider several things before making their final decision.
First, think about your goals for your next conference or event that brings people together face-to-face to learn from each other or engage with experts in their fields of interest. Then choose features that improve these set goals above all else.
Next, consider whether you want mid-event capabilities like live polling tech during sessions, chat/Q&A opportunities with session speakers or others at the event, an expo hall with booths, etc.
And lastly, consider what reports you’ll need to access after the fact so you can build on future events. These are all considerations that will set your hybrid event platform apart from the rest and ensure it meets your needs above all else while also having long-term benefits for years to come.
While there are many different elements involved in planning successful events, one of the most important is choosing a digital event platform that supports these goals throughout every stage of your next conference or live event.
From pre-event through mid-event to post-event considerations, there are several factors planners should keep in mind when they’re choosing hybrid platforms for their next big show.
By taking each factor into account and keeping them in mind while planning future events, you can be sure your chosen hybrid platform will help scale the success of your next conference or live event.
By focusing on goals, mid-event capabilities like chat/Q&A and polling tech, and immediate post-event reporting features throughout the planning process, you’ll ensure that your event is a big hit with attendees and even more successful than it would have been otherwise.