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Let’s Get Serious About Hybrid Events

Michael Doyle Photo
Michael Doyle
, VP of Customer Service, Engagez 

Hybrid events mean many things to many people, and that will typically depend on the goals of the program, but the lack of ability to meet in person for some, most or all participants has made hybrids the main topic of discussion in most events, meetings, training, and other engagement programs. As a result, the COVID-19 variants, at least for the foreseeable future, are making physical programs hugely less effective in reach, monetization, marketing messaging, sales lead generation, education, career development, community building, and peer-to-peer networking.

If you read one of my first posts on the subject, you’ll know that personally, the loss of in-person meetings and events has been a real hardship to me. We were just about to open an event venue in San Jose after years of investment and construction. We were thrilled that it was what I like to refer to as a hybrid-forward venue as we had redundant fiber connections, fixed and mobile remotely controlled video cameras, a fully equipped production booth tucked into the wall, etc. We designed and built the venue with the help of local corporate planners and agencies. The end of the story is that all of the “hybrid” considerations (which were the last things to be purchased and installed by design), were cut out due to a lack of visibility into the short-term future and I dropped out of the project. By the way, the irony of the need for these features becoming even more in demand was not lost on me.

Let me segway into the purpose of this post which is meant to be one of many on the topic of hybrid events, meetings, and engagements to come. If you are unsure of what a hybrid event is you will want to make sure you continue following us throughout this series, you can also go to this link to get more information but honestly, you are not alone. Even seasoned event and platform solution providers like myself are challenged to a one size fits all definition that has any real meaning.

Hybrid seems to be a catch-all or even trendy phrase for people who are checking off the box with a few live streams from the physical venue into a flat web page with a text-based chat running down the side and some sponsor information transferred from their website. This seems to be the most common experience perhaps due to the preponderance of platforms and mobile apps that offer that experience.
On the other end of the spectrum, are experienced designers that start from the beginning and look at what is the most benefit they can generate within their budget (more on the budget considerations in later articles) for their organization. And neither of these two approaches is as bad as not offering an option for remote participation in my opinion. Some events do both! They use a higher-touch, more inclusive, and engaging environment for their target customers, members, employees, partners and then push out stripped-down streams to mass channels like YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, LinkedIn, etc. to cast the broadest net at low additional cost (unless they are paying for the program to be “boosted”). Any step that incorporates virtual components is a great step in launching a successful hybrid event!

Here at Engagez, we have a tool that we use and are happy to share with you that helps our clients go through the process of thinking through the best hybrid plan and experience if they don’t already have one in place. Contact me if you would like a copy.

We encourage you to download and customize the tool for yourself or contact us for access to our online version where we constantly make updates. Once you have tried it out, we would appreciate any feedback that can help us continue to improve and grow the tool to meet your needs!

As a teaser, my next post on the topic of hybrid events will be looking at budgeting because very good Internet connections are a must for live streaming and could be at the core of your potential expense (yes, for many venues, nothing has changed there in the last 10 years), we have another free tool you can download here and use to specify the requirements you will need for each live stream location at the venues you will be using. It’s in word file format so feel free to rebrand and modify it as you see fit. Finally, as always, NEVER SIGN A VENUE CONTRACT WITHOUT HAVING INTERNET PRICING AGREED UPON even if you aren’t planning on doing a hybrid event.

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