After nearly a year and a half of in-person shows being canceled and postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States is finally starting to see in-person events slowly return. However, the transition to a straight-up live, in-person event may not be in the cards just yet, giving rise to what’s known as a hybrid event. The advantages and flexibility of hybrid events may make the model the norm well beyond the pandemic. Below are some considerations for hosting a hybrid event.
Opt for Flexibility
One of the most vital aspects of in-person events moving forward is to offer a virtual component. Events that feature both in-person and virtual elements are known as hybrid events. The hybrid model allows people to attend an event in-person, online, or a combination of the two. Hybrid events are particularly beneficial in the current climate because of the unpredictability of coronavirus.
For example, if an attendee is not feeling well around the time of the event, or if they need to quarantine as a precaution, they can opt to attend the conference virtually. Additionally, the hybrid model allows for contingencies for other unforeseen issues like weather events or travel delays. Whatever the scenario may be, organizers don’t have to worry about losing their audience because the virtual option of a hybrid event offers a myriad of ways to participate and engage with the event.
As you plan and prepare for a hybrid event, consider that offering this flexibility is a benefit to your audience. It is common for hybrid event tickets to include access to both your show’s in-person and virtual features.
Support Socialization and Networking
A primary objective of industry events is to socialize and network. When it comes to COVID-19 and social interaction, everyone has varying comfort levels when doing so in person. For some, wearing a mask in these settings is necessary, while others might not want to wear a mask but would like 6ft of distance around others. It’s important to respect personal boundaries when it comes to these matters and implement community guidelines.
So how does a hybrid show prepare for people of varying comfort levels? For starters, consider implementing a wearable identification system for in-person attendees. At registration, you can ask for personal preference regarding interactions with others at the event.
The actual wearable identification system can be a wristband, badge, lanyard, or another easy-to-view marking. From here, the wearable marking can come in an assortment of colors, with each color representing a different level of comfort. For example, a three-color identification system can distinguish whether a person prefers zero physical interaction, no-contact, socially distanced interaction, or is okay with contact like handshakes. This system makes the event less stressful and therefore more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Networking is just as crucial for virtual attendees, and platforms such as Showmetry offer other methods for these attendees to interact and engage with one another through the platform. Such features include networking sessions, searching through the event attendee list, interacting with sponsor representatives at their designated booths, and more. Show organizers and exhibitors should promote these communication and networking vehicles to grow awareness and encourage remote attendees to take advantage of these tools. In-person attendees can use these tools as well to further enhance their experience or document their connections at the show.
Plan Content Equally
Show organizers commonly fall into the hybrid event trap of planning the in-person element of the show and simply tweaking the content to fit the format of the virtual aspect. However, the virtual element should not be a secondary thought. The virtual component should have content planned and created specifically for the medium and is cohesive with the event’s in-person portion. Such planning will ensure that virtual attendees will have the best possible experience, even if they are thousands of miles away from the physical event.
For example, the virtual element may contain specially edited videos for watching, downloadable digital assets, designated networking rooms, and gamification features. Additional factors to consider for the virtual experience include high-quality video streaming and customized vendor booths. By investing the appropriate amount of time, energy, and resources into each aspect of the show, the more likely attendees will enjoy their experience no matter how they choose to attend. Also, keep in mind that this content offers longevity beyond the show’s last day regardless of whether that attendee was in-person or virtual. Both in-person and virtual attendees can peruse the show site and catch speaker sessions or demos that they weren’t able to live, learn more about your products or services as well as connect post-show. Consequently, the hybrid mindset approach proves beneficial for all involved.
If you’re interested in running a virtual or hybrid trade show, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit showmetry.com to learn more about the Showmetry virtual event platform.