The meeting technology that got us through the COVID pandemic has found a new life: supporting hybrid events, which is the next big trend for conferences. We see this trend turning into a permanent addition to the conference landscape, as it allows those who cannot attend in-person to participate from anywhere in the world.

Hybrid events marry the best of in-person and virtual

During a hybrid event, attendees can attend remotely, in-person or both. Events can even be held at multiple locations around the world. Unlike all in-person or all virtual conferences, hybrid events require you to deliver two experiences with one event.

For a conference that was previously restricted to a venue’s capacity, the sky is now the limit! Not only can you host more attendees, your conference is open to people whose budgets or schedules don’t allow for domestic or international travel. Imagine what this means for your conference’s attendance and success.

Another reason hybrid events are here to stay is climate change. Companies and organizations around the world are taking concrete steps to reduce their carbon footprints. One event hosted in multiple locations and/or that allows people to attend remotely can significantly reduce business travel and carbon emissions while supporting a move towards a more sustainable future.

But are hybrid events engaging?

With careful planning and the right technology, the answer is yes.

The technology already exists to help remote attendees fully participate. During a workshop, virtual attendees can use a live chat feature to ask questions and share insights. They can also be placed into virtual meeting rooms for small group work and discussions.

Consider creating a mobile app for more intimate discussions. Attendees can use it to connect with exhibitors, sponsors and guest speakers and chat with conference organizers.

Just remember that technology must work seamlessly with the in-person experience, or it will feel like two different events. Live streaming must be flawless, and your speakers must be comfortable in front of cameras and a sea of people.

Content is king

It is much harder to keep virtual attendees engaged than those who are in person. A computer screen just doesn’t convey the energy and mood of a room. When planning your conference, make sure the content is relevant to all audiences and think about integrating live polls to keep virtual attendees engaged.

To ensure your virtual attendees don’t get lost, have a dedicated event coordinator monitor their questions and comments during live sessions, remind attendees of upcoming sessions and introduce virtual-only sessions.

Timing is also critical. A one-hour keynote speech may be just right for in-person attendees but far too long for those attending remotely. Sessions should be long enough to deliver real value but short enough to hold everyone’s attention.

How to navigate time zones

If you are hosting a hybrid conference with a global audience, you also need to take time zones into account. An attendee in California is unlikely to make it to an opening keynote address that is being broadcast live from London at 9am GMT. The solution? On-demand video that can be viewed anytime.

You can also consider offering one session on three different days at three different times. That way, attendees can ask questions and participate in discussions.

Excited about hybrid events?

We are. At FLIK Hospitality Group we are dedicated to providing quality hospitality service that is unparalleled in the industry. Hybrid events are just one more way to do that. Have feedback or questions for our team? Email us at [email protected]