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Will hosting a hybrid event cannibalize my face-to-face event?

Will hosting a hybrid event (with a virtual online component) cannibalize your face-to-face event attendance? The answer is a resounding no! Hybrid events can help, not hurt, attendance. About 37% of meeting professionals say that they face skepticism from stakeholders who think that hybrid will eat away at face-to-face events. (click to tweet)

So what are the virtues of virtual? Here are a few pointers on how hybrid events can lead to huge increases in attendance, both virtual AND face-to-face.

A relevant strategy

Are hybrid events still a successful event marketing strategy? Yes, more than ever! A classic example of hybrid event success is the 2014 edition of PCMA’s Convening Leaders, where the event enjoyed a 40% increase in attendance. Live-streams were introduced for people that couldn’t attend due to a variety of constraints. When asked if the hybrid experience made it more likely that they’d join PCMA at future face-to-face events, only 7% of live-stream participants said it wouldn’t!

Takeaway: Hybrid events increase your event’s brand recognition in the short term and in-person attendance in the long term.

Give them a taste

A live-stream is good for showcasing “the meat” of your event. Offering some sessions free of charge builds goodwill, and establishes a relationship with a potential face-to-face attendee. You want to give a good show that is on par with the live experience in hopes that they become loyal face-to-face attendees in the future. Be sure to wisely select sponsors like tech suppliers for your hybrid component. Then you can increase the wow-factor without surging costs. 71% of eventprofs provided sponsor opportunities in 2016 compared to 62% in 2015.

To charge or not to charge

PCMA doesn’t charge registration fees because of how powerful and effective live-streams are for their brand. It benefits from worldwide exposure, and 70% of hybrid attendees indicated they planned to attend in person next year. However, sometimes foregoing a fee can lead to a low return on investment depending on how much you invested. A simple fee of $39 worked wonders for the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society. In 2016, 33% of event producers did not charge a fee for live access to a hybrid event, but there has been an increase in charging for post-event on-demand content.

Don’t go moderate on moderation

When running a hybrid event, recruit a key host/moderator who is dedicated to the remote audience to ensure engagement is as high. This is becoming increasingly crucial, as featuring a moderator can lead to an 18% higher rate of success. Prep your speakers to ensure they address the remote audience, stay on-camera and avoid distracting movements. Facilitate the Q&A from remote attendees and relay them to your speakers to be answered live. These are just some of the ways you can bridge the gap between the digital and the live aspects.

Reduce your carbon footprint

While meeting planners rarely consider sustainability as justification for the increased use of hybrid events, travelling is easily the biggest contributor to your event’s carbon footprint. With hybrid events, you can now combat this problem head-on while offering a convenient solution for attendees that can’t make it in person, whether it be because of budget issues, scheduling conflicts, or simply a preference for virtual convenience. To get started, choose a platform based on the size of your meeting and the kinds of experiences you want to integrate, such as live polling and presentation slides.

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