Remote communication

What is a Hybrid Event? (with Examples, Tools & Best Practices)

Published on November 29, 2022 • Updated on December 7, 2022 • About 10 min. read

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If you want to widen your reach, host bigger events, and increase attendance, you’ve probably heard the buzz around hybrid events.

But what exactly are hybrid events and how do they work? How do you set up such a seemingly complicated event and keep virtual attendees engaged?

In this guide, we’ll answer all these questions and more, giving you the tools to enhance your audience’s experience before, during, and after every event.

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6 Email Templates for Successful Virtual Events
6 Email Templates for Successful Virtual Events
Templates Templates

6 Email Templates for Successful Virtual Events

Access these 6 email templates to drive attendance to your virtual events.

Learn more

Table of contents

  • What is a hybrid event?
  • What are the biggest benefits of hybrid events?
  • Hybrid event challenges to look out for
  • 3 Successful hybrid event examples of 2022
  • 4 Best hybrid event platforms to choose from
  • How to host a hybrid event
  • Hosting hybrid events that shine
  • Frequently asked questions about hybrid events

What is a hybrid event?

A hybrid event combines in-person and virtual attendance, meaning that some people meet in a physical location, while others join via a video stream. Combining audiovisual technology and video conferencing software, hybrid events are the middle ground between traditional in-person events and virtual events.

Imagine your team is having an in-person meeting but you can’t make it to the office. The team sets up a laptop in the meeting room, you connect with them via virtual conferencing software, and voilà, you’re in a hybrid event.

You might already have participated in other large-scale hybrid events without realizing it - such as an Apple product launch event. Even the Oscars, presidential press briefings, and sporting events are types of hybrid events.

What are the biggest benefits of hybrid events?

When choosing between live, virtual, or hybrid events to generate leads and promote your business, consider the following benefits of going hybrid:

  • Increased attendance and reach. Making an in-person event accessible online means you can reach attendees all over the world without sacrificing the atmosphere of a live audience.
  • More flexibility. Hybrid events give you a digital backup plan in case of global health disasters, extreme weather, or travel disruption. Instead of canceling your event, you can convert some or all of your in-person attendees to virtual ones.
  • Reduced environmental impact. With fewer people traveling to your event, booking hotels, and all the waste that comes with them, hybrid events offer a great way to reduce your company’s impact on the environment whilst keeping an in-person element.
  • Improved return on investment (ROI). The combination of virtually limitless attendee numbers, reduced in-person costs, and lucrative opportunities for sponsorship deals mean hybrid events are likely to see a much higher ROI.
  • Higher audience engagement. Introducing a virtual element to an in-person event opens up many more engagement opportunities as virtual attendees can interact in panel discussions, polls, and chat. With Livestorm’s Q&A feature you can centralize audience questions and answer them through a tab in the event room.
  • Invaluable data and metrics. With many people attending online you can access data on which subjects attract the most visitors, duration of attendance, and attendees’ country of origin in order to identify new markets for your content.

Hybrid event challenges to look out for

With two audiences to take care of at once, hybrid events can be challenging. Be aware of the following:

  • Getting your ticket pricing right. Once you've considered equipment costs, venue hire, decoration, and refreshments, the in-person element of your event gets expensive. But your virtual attendees won't want to foot the bill when they join from their living room, so you should offer distinct ticket tiers according to access type.
  • Delivering value to exhibitors and sponsors. Sponsors might be unsure how their brand will be advertised in the digital space. To alleviate any fear of limited exposure, you can organize sponsor-branded activities, play pre-recorded sponsor content, and prominently display sponsor banners and graphics both in-venue and online.
  • Picking the right venue and virtual platform. Make sure the venue has a strong, stable internet connection and good WiFi and that your virtual platform has audience engagement features and dedicated customer support teams like those offered by Livestorm.
  • Managing different time zones. Attendees joining from all over the world means you have to contend with competing time zones. To combat this, use registration data to understand where the majority of attendees are coming from and pick a time to suit them. If you use a virtual event platform like Livestorm to take registrations, you can easily access this data from the analytics dashboard.
  • Bridging the gap between online and in-person attendees. It’s very easy for online attendees to feel like they’re isolated at a hybrid event. Broadcast virtual attendees’ messages, poll responses, and questions onto screens at the in-person venue and organize activities that allow all attendees to participate.

3 Successful hybrid event examples of 2022

What does a hybrid event look like? To give you a benchmark for success, here are 3 of the biggest hybrid events from 2022.

1. Apple Far Out

Apple’s Far Out hybrid event. Source: Economic Times

While not the most interactive, Apple’s special events are certainly the biggest and most successful example out there, thanks to powerful branding. This year was no exception, with the live Far Out event drawing 3.69 million online viewers eager to see the launch of the latest Apple products.

2. INBOUND

INBOUND 2022, a hybrid event example. Source: La Ecuación Digital

INBOUND is an annual event powered by HubSpot that brings together thought leaders from the marketing, sales, and customer success sectors. Organizers made sure that virtual attendees had a dedicated experience of their own, with specialized “Digital Only” on-demand content and access to virtual networking tools.

3.B2B Summit North America

The B2B Summit North America hybrid event setup. Source: The Customer

B2B Summit North America is a highly popular event for B2B marketers and sales leaders to improve their business strategies. This year’s hybrid event featured breakout rooms, peer connections, and keynote speeches for virtual and in-person audiences. Attendees also had access to a digital sponsor marketplace that mixed engagement opportunities with sponsor branding.

6 Email Templates for Successful Virtual Events
6 Email Templates for Successful Virtual Events
Templates Templates

6 Email Templates for Successful Virtual Events

Access these 6 email templates to drive attendance to your virtual events.

Learn more

4 Best hybrid event platforms to choose from

Picking the right hybrid event solution will make or break your event. Here are some of the best virtual event platforms:

  1. Livestorm has a huge range of interactive features to keep virtual attendees engaged. The platform has an intuitive analytics dashboard and can host up to 3000 people, making it a strong contender for small to medium-sized events like hybrid and virtual panel discussions.
  2. Bizzabo isn’t the most flexible option on the market but it has integrations with the most common marketing tools around, making it the right choice if you’re looking for an impressive marketing tech stack.
  3. Vfairs offers impressive 3D virtual environments to make online attendees feel like they’re at the venue. It’s the right choice if immersion is a priority, just be aware of the hefty price tag attached.
  4. 6Connex is best for large organizations, owing to its enterprise-grade security and ability to host tens of thousands of attendees, but its interface isn’t the easiest to navigate.
hybrid event tool

How to host a hybrid event

Looking for hybrid events best practices? Here we break down 14 steps to pulling off a seamless event.

1. Get to know your audience

There’s no point in planning a fantastic networking session if your audience will find more value in educational content like a live panel discussion and Q&A. So, do your market research and define your event goals before you settle on a theme. From here, you can choose an event format, create your event planning checklist, and book relevant speakers.

2. Choose the right type of hybrid event

There are four different types of hybrid events. Pick one to suit your hybrid event strategy:

  • Simultaneous. Also known as a “true hybrid event” where in-person and virtual audiences attend a live event simultaneously, and all attendees can interact.
  • On-demand. This event is designed for in-person attendees but a recording is available to virtual audiences afterward.
  • Hub-and-Spoke. Made up of a 'hub' where the presenters and some of the attendees are based, and a series of 'spoke' locations where smaller groups of attendees gather together and join virtually.
  • Live Studio Audience. Speakers perform to a smaller in-person audience but a wider group of virtual attendees, like a live television show.

3. Establish your hybrid event timeline

The worst thing you can do is not give yourself enough time to prepare for your event. Make sure you start hybrid event planning well in advance and create a timeline that considers your goals, resources, and budget. Consider using a virtual event platform like Livestorm to take registrations, as you’ll be able to customize the cadence of your email campaign to suit your timeline.

4. Create a hybrid event checklist

Once you’ve brainstormed all your hybrid event ideas, lay out every task that needs completing and set a firm but realistic deadline for each one. Create a checklist so you know what needs doing and can tick each step off as you go along. Include these steps:

  1. Book a live venue
  2. Choose a virtual conference platform
  3. Secure audiovisual equipment and operators
  4. Plan the sessions
  5. Find speakers
  6. Reach out to sponsors
  7. Market the event
  8. Plan the entertainment

5. Reach out to speakers

Booking relevant speakers with a following of their own will help attract a larger audience and drum up anticipation for your event. Look out for speakers who:

  • Are experts in their fields
  • Have some experience with public speaking
  • Are well known (at least to your target audience)
  • Have good communication skills to keep an audience engaged
  • Meet the limitations of your budget

6. Create registration pages

For the highest number of signups you need a clear, attractive registration page that gives attendees the essential information without bogging them down with too many details. For example, Livestorm’s registration pages are optimized for conversion, but you can still customize them to amplify your brand. It also has a registration widget that you can embed onto relevant web pages.

registration page for hybrid event

7. Begin hybrid event marketing

When promoting your next event, consider using a marketing app that integrates with your event platform to automate tasks and nurture leads through your sales funnel. We recommend HubSpot, Marketo, and Pardot. Your marketing assets should be simple, engaging, and optimized to share on social media. Remember to clarify what’s available for each ticket type to minimize queries and build anticipation.

8. Send automatic invites and reminders

Take a proactive approach and send out invites and reminders to your mailing list, past attendees, and any other relevant leads you already have. Your event platform should have useful features to help. Livestorm offers:

  • Unlimited customized reminders and follow-up emails
  • Email delivery status notifications
  • Integrations with apps like Mailchimp for custom emails and engagement analytics
  • One-click invite to easily add your contacts and invite them to your event

9. Perfect your hybrid event setup at the venue

Avoid technical problems on the big day and make sure everything is set up at the venue. For a hybrid event, this will mean checking that audiovisual equipment like cameras, lights, and microphones are working correctly.

10. Appoint a moderator

Your event host should know how to moderate panel discussions and pump up a crowd. But you also need a moderator who can boost interaction between virtual attendees, use virtual engagement features, and assist in Q&A discussions.

Your moderator should have good communication skills, show diplomacy, and be considerate of other people. Finally, give them the power to mute and remove virtual participants, in the unlikely event that anyone acts inappropriately.

11. Project poll results

To keep a hybrid event audience engaged, use live polls and project the results. Livestorm has a polling feature that lets you share the results in real-time. There are also some great poll apps out there that can integrate with your hybrid event platform such as Slido and Pigeonhole Live.

hybrid event polls

12. Share on-demand events

It’s likely some registrants will miss part or all of the event, so get a recording and share it on-demand. Livestorm offers automatic recordings and follow-up emails, giving audiences a chance to catch what they missed or re-watch useful sessions. You can even repurpose recordings for gated content, training materials, or lead generation.

13. Request feedback

Analyzing feedback will help you improve your next event, so don’t miss an opportunity to find out what your audience thought. Set up an automatic email to send a day or two after your event with a link to a quick, focused survey on Typeform or SurveyMonkey.

14. Analyze hybrid event statistics

If you’re using a platform like Livestorm you’ll be able to export detailed analytics and data to measure the event’s performance and glean useful marketing information. Be sure to assess:

  • Registrations to absence ratio
  • Engagement levels
  • Attendance drop-off rate
  • Audience demographics
  • Chat messages, Q&A questions, and poll results
  • On-demand replay data
  • Conversion rates and ROI
hybrid events analytics

Hosting hybrid events that shine

So, how to plan a hybrid event that will actually engage your online audience and in-person attendees? Here’s a recap:

  • Choose a venue with a strong, stable internet connection
  • Hire speakers who’ve done it before
  • Find a moderator to connect the two audiences
  • Market and ticket the event carefully
  • Use digital engagement tools like polls
  • Analyze post-event feedback and attendance data

But even with these tips for hybrid events, you’re still relying on software to make it happen. If you need a dedicated hybrid event platform and cost isn’t an issue for you, we recommend going with Vfairs.

But Livestorm is the top choice for virtual event software that focuses on virtual engagement and event analytics. Plus, with Livestorm, you’ll be able to send automatic email invites and follow up with on-demand replays.

Frequently asked questions about hybrid events

What are the hybrid event best practices for hosts?

The hybrid event best practices for hosts are:

  • Give equal value to virtual attendees and the in-person audience
  • Triple check your presentation materials
  • Rehearse the event and practice presenting to a camera
  • Make sure all audiovisual equipment is working correctly
  • Establish back-ups for everything

What equipment is needed for a hybrid meeting?

The equipment needed for a hybrid meeting is:

  • Camera
  • Microphone
  • Lights
  • Speakers
  • Digital screen/projector
  • Hybrid event platform, like Livestorm

What is hybrid event ROI?

Hybrid event ROI depends on a variety of factors but your ROI will typically increase right along with your overall expenditure. To make this increase in ROI more likely, create a detailed plan for your event and choose a hybrid event platform like Livestorm for a seamless experience.

6 Email Templates for Successful Virtual Events
6 Email Templates for Successful Virtual Events
Templates Templates

6 Email Templates for Successful Virtual Events

Learn more