There seems to be a lot of conversation lately about the best approach for producing Hybrid Events. Many event professionals want to know what the magic formula is for budgeting them. Truth is there is no one specific answer. There are just too many variables.
Organizations hold meetings and conferences for different reasons. Some choose to add hybrid events, with specific objectives in mind. Adding to the dynamic are customer needs and expectations which vary, from event to event, and funding sources, which can be distinctly different as well. The real key to identifying the best approach for a hybrid event is to become strategic about planning it.
Strategic Best Practices for Hybrid Events
Here are some issues to consider:
Strategic Issue 1: What is the desired hybrid event experience you wish to provide to your customers? Looking at it another way, why are you holding this/these event(s)?
- to provide an alternative for customers unable to attend face2face, due to expense or time constraints?
- to demonstrate your organization’s technology prowess and thought leadership?
- to showcase (new and existing) products and services to potential buyers and/or existing customers?
- to grow your attendee-base by introducing hybrid components to prospects, extending your market reach and stimulating interest in the face2face event?
Strategic Issue 2: What are you funding resources?
- How much capital do you have available to spend?
- Can event registration fees be increased to offset hybrid event production expenses?
- Are there potential sponsors available, either financial, or in-kind, to help offset costs?
Strategic Issue 3: How important is production quality and which pieces matter most? Answering these questions will help you identify your equipment and labor requirements.
- Does Video need to be ‘HD’ quality or will a less expensive feed from a Flip camera suffice? (or somewhere in between) This helps to identify camera and lighting requirements.
- Is it important for audience interaction to be captured on video? Or will audio support only be acceptable? Enables you to identify # of camera’s, camera operators and related hardware support.
- Will sound be broadcast only from presenter(s) or will there be audience interaction, such as Q&A? Determines number and type of microphones needed, soundboard, operator, microphone runners, etc.
- Is multi-directional webcasting required? If so, will both audio and video be delivered in that manner, or in what combination? identifies scope and complexity of broadcast, off-site coordination support, additional equipment/labor, and Internet Connections.
- Do you want to keep customers engaged during breaks and between sessions? Drives a decision on whether to engage the services of a “virtual emcee” (Suggested!) or not.
Credible Business Partners Make a Difference
I highly recommend engaging the assistance of a reputable audio visual company to help you identify what is needed and at what cost. One critical element to a positive Hybrid event experience is to retain the services of a professional hybrid event producer, if you do not have that expertise available in-house. A show producer will ensure that you don’t forget about any of the important planning pieces for a successful event. They will also help you shape the strategic direction of the event.
Addressing these strategic issues with your events team, will lead to a more focused plan for budgeting and implementation of the hybrid event. Should you find you are not able to generate the financial resources to accommodate your desired event experience outcome, you may need to re-evaluate the scope of the event or find alternative funding sources.
Question: What have I missed here? In your hybrid event planning experience, what strategic challenges have you faced and how did you adjust to improve the next planning cycle? Please share!