Event professionals have witnessed firsthand the changes to in-person events in the past year. Virtual events provide an alternative solution to reach more attendees without the need to physically gather. Hybrid events allow event professionals to combine in-person and virtual event experiences to reach a wider audience while providing ways for attendees to engage and connect.
It’s no wonder why 65% of event professionals plan to use hybrid as their go-to format once in-person events resume. We recently polled our Vimeo community on LinkedIn and found the majority plan to produce virtual events (38%) or hybrid events (38%) while only 6% plan to produce in-person only events in the near future. Hybrid events offer flexibility while making it easier to comply with local health and safety guidelines for more intimate in-person experiences.
In this article, we’ll talk about what makes a hybrid event and learn from some of the best hybrid event examples of 2022.
Let’s dive in!
What does a hybrid event look like?
A hybrid event is one central event with two different, yet connected experiences. The shared connection between in-person and virtual attendees is the event content. A hybrid approach can compliment event formats including trade shows, conferences, meetings, or seminars.
No matter if your attendees are in-person and remote, you’ll want to find ways to keep them engaged. For your remote attendees, it’s important to find tools to help engage with event content. Here are some examples of tools you can use to maximize audience engagement:
- Live and on-demand event content. Live content can functional similar to a live television broadcast. Event organizers can upload pre-recorded content that attendees can watch on-demand at any time.
- Polls & Live Q&As. Polls and live Q&A help remote audiences feel as if they are in the room with speakers and can participate just as effectively as an in-person attendee would.
- Breakout rooms. Streaming breakout sessions from the physical event allow digital audiences to join in.
- Networking tools. Chat functionality, video, profile creation, and 1 to 1 meetings help in-person and digital audiences meet.
The best hybrid examples of 2022
Now that you know a little more about hybrid events, how do you produce a great one? We’ve taken a look at some of the best hybrid events yet to help inspire you and get your hybrid event in motion.
INBOUND, powered by HubSpot, brings together thought leaders from around the globe in marketing, sales, customer success, and revenue operations. Their first-ever hybrid event kicks off on September 6th – 9th, 2022.
With both in-person and virtual tickets available, INBOUND is ensuring that remote audiences will have a dedicated experience of their own.
Virtual participants can access specialized “Digital Only” content, made just for virtual ticket holders. On-Demand content will be accessible for 1 year and available within 24 hours of the last day of the event. Not to mention all audiences will be able to connect within the Inbound community for networking, meetups, and chats.
When it comes to hybrid, a community is essential for the event to thrive.
B2B Summit North America is the premier event for B2B marketers and sales leaders to help empower their business strategies. The hybrid event took place on May 2nd, 2022 in Austin, Texas and featured breakouts, peer connections, and inspiring keynotes for all attendees and participants no matter their location.
For those they participated virtually they provided a guided platform orientation to not only ensure attendees were confident in navigating the event, but to also help them maximize their experience. The event also featured a digital sponsor marketplace where sponsor collateral and engagement opportunities lived. For in-person attendees, intimate 1:1 meetings with expert analysts offer a space to discuss top business priorities among many other benefits.
Remote audiences want all the content your event has to offer. Placing resources in the same location as sponsors encourages engagement, and of course, make sponsors happy.
Gainsight’s Pulse Everywhere kicks off its next hybrid event on August 17th at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. The veteran hybrid event offers both in-person and virtual ticket options. All ticket holders will get access to the latest research in customer success, community, and the most important trends to follow. The event will jam packed with information to help their audience hone in on best practices and strategies for creating top-notch customer experiences.
Expect virtual networking opportunities planned to mimic the spur of the moment conversations that happen at in-person events. And in the case that you need to convince your job that you must attend in-person, they have a handy template ready for download to help prove the value of the event to your boss.
#FinCon22 launches their event experience this September in Orlando, Florida. The digital marketing event for personal finance content creators is going the extra mile when it comes to in-person networking. This year’s event includes a main hub at World Marriott Center that includes opportunities to network at meetups, lounges, exhibit booths, live sessions and roundtables, and much more. While the majority of FinCon’s event schedule is geared towards in-person attendees, specific ticket holders will have access to on-demand event content and recordings after the event ends.
When considering your event, make sure you prioritize features that encourage connection between in-person and virtual attendees. Be sure to also consider where you can monetize your on-demand content.
One of the first major hybrid conferences to take place in the past year was Empower 21. Both in-person and virtually attendees have access to a digital event platform. Attendees could interact with each other, view the agenda, speaker information, and more. For in-person attendees, safety protocols like mandatory masks and social distancing were in place.
This hybrid event proved that businesses can still hold successful and safe in-person experiences by following health guidelines. The Empower Conference returns in-person to the Irving Convention Center on February 28th, 2022.
It would be no surprise if Twitch, the online streaming platform for gamer communities, focused solely on virtual experiences. However, Twitch recognizes the value of a hybrid experience. For several years, TwitchCon featured live entertainment, music, panel sessions, meet-and-greets, and tournaments. By using their platform to stream content, TwitchCon virtual audiences benefit from social interactivity and seamless engagement with all live aspects of the event. TwitchCon is hosted in San Diego and is scheduled to take place on October 7-9, 2022.
One of the best examples of hybrid events is none other than Apple Special Events. For as long as we can remember, Apple’s special events have been live streamed to audiences around the globe introducing the latest Apple products, technology, and more. In 2019, a crowd of 1,000 people and two million remote viewers tuned in to watch Tim Cook unveil products like a new iPad, a refreshed Apple Watch, and the cutting-edge iPhone 11. Though hybrid has since expanded to more levels of audience interaction, reaching 99.95% of a company’s entire audience from a single event is no small feat.
One of the largest meeting and event industry associations took hybrid by storm in 2021 and is still worth noting. WEC Grapevine ran a 5 day in-person conference with 20+ concurrent sessions for 1739 attendees total. That breaks down to 608 in-person and 1131 digital attendees. MPI set out to show how to safely bring back business meetings and events. The hybrid event was such a success, it also launched in Las Vegas in June of 2021 offering both an in-person and a digital experience. Both were 100% live, happening simultaneously and allowing attendees to participate in the way that’s best for them.
A go-to hybrid event for leading social influencers is the Social Media Marketing World conference. The in-person aspect takes place in San Diego and offers high-quality content to inspire social media managers featured on popular platforms. The virtual component allows for the remote attendees to partake in the same content digitally. The registration process is clever and empowers attendees with multiple ticket tiers to maximize their audience. Tiers range from 100% virtual, on-demand video access, and all-access passes. The all-access tier features live on-location access to all keynotes, sessions, recordings, and more.
When building your hybrid event, consider the different ticket types and tiers that target your audiences and help provide a curated event experience.
The beloved New Yorker Festival is back for their annual event celebrating news, politics, literature, film, music, art, and popular culture. This year’s event includes a combination of virtual, live streamed events and in-person events across New York City. Additionally, the New Yorker Festival includes tickets for “Dining In Events,” which features curated meal delivery for New Yorkers attending across the five boroughs and a virtual conference with the chefs who prepared the meals.
When building out your next hybrid event, look to incorporate exclusive experiences that combine virtual connection and some in-person interactivity.
Hybrid events FAQ
What is a hybrid event?
What are some types of hybrid events?
Why are hybrid events the future?
It’s amazing to see the level of digital creativity hybrid has brought to the event industry. Events have dramatically transformed. Producing virtual events have given event planners ways to reach more people. Hybrid gives us the opportunity to build on those innovations and connect like never before.
Here are a few final ideas to keep in mind when putting together a hybrid event:
- Always make room for audience interactivity. Audiences should be able to connect and network with each other no matter the location.
- In-person attendees will thrive off of experiential aspects. Make sure to provide exclusive in-person experiences for attendees. Consider hiring musicians and live entertainment to contribute to the physical aspect of the event.
- Empower attendees with multiple ticket options. Let attendees decide how they want to participate. This will make them not only more comfortable at the event, but potentially increase the level of participation in the way that they choose.
- Hire a production team. Working with a professional AV team and event agencies help for seamless execution and hybrid development.
- Remember there are no rules. Hybrid calls for an endless amount of creativity. Don’t be afraid to experiment and expand on early learnings.
Discover more ways to connect with our virtual event handbook
Originally published on September 13, 2021 and updated on May 18, 2022.