4 tips for amazing hybrid events from platform experts

COVID restrictions may be easing, but hybrid events are just getting started.
In the past year, virtual events platforms including Gatheround, Yaymaker, Big Marker, and Eventfinity have either greatly expanded their business or sprung up to meet the needs of event marketers. Investors seem to think these platforms have a post-pandemic future: In March, UK-based virtual venue platform Hopin raised $400 million in Series C funding. Tame also celebrated a $5.5 million raise this month. Marketers agree.

The last purely in-person event ever to occur has already happened,” Joe Davy, CEO of the event marketing company Banzai, told Digiday. “Going forward, every virtual conference is going to be an online, offline, and on-demand component.

In order to help you deliver a hybrid experience that engages people where they are, we rounded up advice from executives at the platforms now working at bridging that gap.

Start with an amazing host

“Zoom events can be so run-of-the-mill,” said Matthew Rolnick, vice president of sales for virtual creative events platform, Yaymaker. To create memorable online experiences—like the company’s paint and sip nights—having engaging hosts who know your audience is key, said Rolnick. Celebrity and high-profile guests, for instance, can take a routine company meeting to the next level. Such guests are also much easier to book when people are cautious about travel. No logistics or hotel fees to worry about.

Be contextual with content

Big Marker’s app uses AI to content that is relevant to the user’s geographic location, like the weather, time, and sessions that might be of interest. To this end, “understand what’s important” for the client event, said Rolnick, and do run-throughs before the event so everyone knows how the online and in-person components will work.

“Every attendee can return to their everyday lives at the close of their session, so it opens the field to a broader and higher quality assortment of presenters,” wrote Allie Magyar, CEO of events platform Hubb, in Forbes.

Focus on customization

Introvoke co-founder and CEO Oana Manolache believes that event organizers will want to own the events process completely. Directing attendees to a third-party platform will become less and less attractive. Speaking to TechCrunch, she said, “organizers want to bring solutions to their own universe,” meaning that virtual events platforms will be able to offer customizable, embeddable technology that keeps attendees in the company’s ecosystem.

Justin Brown, COO and head of product for Big Marker, echoes this sentiment. He sees mobile as the natural step for hybrid events. “It’s the one device we all have on us,” he said. Working with Big Marker, clients can fully brand a mobile app for the event  “Whether you want to have a 3D VR experience or a virtual swag bag or a social wall, you can mix and match the ways in which attendees can engage with your event, depending on what makes sense for your event.” The app is also fully white-labeled, so attendees download the client’s app, not an unfamiliar, third-party one.

Emphasize growth opportunities

Not only do virtual events cost less to put on, but they reach more people who might not be able to attend. A busy parent could watch the opening keynote for an event and then duck out to make the school run, said Brown. This means that money that might have been spent on putting on an expensive, in-person event can be reinvested into a hybrid or online one, wrote Magyar. Helping clients bring in more business from online events is a sure-fire way to retain them over the long term. Brown adds that virtual events are a more well-rounded experience for attendees than simply listening to content being live-streamed.

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