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June 14, 2021
Event Tips

5 Hybrid Event Examples and Ideas to Inspire Event Planners

5 Hybrid Event Examples and Ideas to Inspire Event Planners

Unlike mood rings, crimped hair or JNCO jeans, hybrid experiences aren’t a passing trend (that doesn’t mean you can’t dust off your old pair of leg warmers to wear to your next hybrid event, though). 97% of event organizers believe we’ll see more hybrid events this year than ever before, but it can be challenging to put together a hybrid event with limited experience.

Luckily, there are others paving the way. Industries from sports to entertainment to sales, and even government organizations, are embracing hybrid events. It’s the best of both worlds: you get connection and engagement from the in-person side while reaching a bigger audience than ever before with virtual components.

Hybrid events are no longer the “second best” option, especially when you use event management tech like PheedLoop that make both the online and in-person portions of your hybrid event a unique, entertaining experience.

Take it from the NBA, or the Primetime Emmy Awards: hybrid events are here to stay precisely because they do such a great job of hooking both in-person and online audiences to create bigger, better experiences.

In this post, we give examples of five innovative hybrid events, and what you as an event planner can learn and incorporate into your next hybrid format.  

1. The NBA Virtual Fan Experience

Professional sports leagues were some of the first organizations to adopt hybrid event formats when the pandemic hit. They may not bill themselves as hybrid experiences, but an in-person game with virtual and IRL audiences is definitely hybrid. The NBA Virtual Fan Experience was a brilliant way that the NBA kept ticket sales steady, engaged audiences and had the basketball season continue on as usual. The Virtual Fan Experience wasn’t just audiences tuning in from home; ticket holders appeared on-screen as audience members , could interact with other people in their section in real time, and lead chants that could be heard in-person by the players instead of just watching the game as usual.


What event planners can learn

The online version of a hybrid event doesn’t have to be boring or static! Virtual events can be just as active and connective as in-person events, and there are tons of unique ways to engage your online audiences. Hybrid events give you the capacity to move beyond the typical webinar viewing model, especially when run through an event management platform like PheedLoop that allows you to engage online attendees in myriad ways.

And, the virtual side of a hybrid event can be just as buzzy as the in-person. Virtual events are no longer the second-rate option; like with the NBA Virtual Fan Experience, limiting spots for an VIP online experience creates an exclusivity that will get people interested and vying for a ticket.

2. OutBound 2021

Billed as the biggest, baddest conference in the sales profession, OutBound 2021 is adopting a hybrid model for this year’s event. Like countless annual events, OutBound has switched to hybrid, offering several ticket levels that allow attendees to participate in-person, online or in both capacities. Powered by PheedLoop, OutBound’s hybrid event platform is simple and seamless. PheedLoop’s powerful event management platform allows OutBound organizers to live stream almost all of their in-person programming to virtual attendees, meaning that those who purchase virtual-only tickets still get the same great OutBound experience (and bonus virtual materials like speaker interviews and training content).


What event planners can learn

Offering a virtual version of an in-person event will boost attendance while still providing a worthwhile experience. Simply put, hybrid event formats equals increased accessibility, which equals a larger audience at your event. For prospective attendees that can’t afford the cost of in-person tickets, or just can’t fit it into their busy schedule, a lower-cost virtual event option is an attractive option. Around 80% of event organizers say they’ve been able to reach a wider audience with virtual events. Follow in OutBound’s footsteps: hybrid formats are accessible and a great way to experience everything an event has to offer.

3. Hybrid Weddings

It might seem tough to adapt more personal events to hybrid formats. Celebrating events like graduations, pregnancies and birthdays are always better when surrounded by loved ones. However, not everyone can make it in-person bu they still want to be part of the experience, making hybrid events the way to go. Take this Wired profile on Jenny Cooper and Sean Steuer’s hybrid wedding. Forced to change their wedding plans, the couple pulled off a hybrid experience with a small group of friends and a pastor in-person, and other guests joining via Zoom. The wedding had it all: virtual bachelor and bachelorette parties, a Zoom game night for the bride and groom’s families, even changes in location as the couple cut the cake and had their first dance. Cooper and Steuer were able to connect with their loved ones through an innovative hybrid format.

What event planners can learn

Hybrid event formats aren’t just for conferences, trade shows and other professional events. They lend themselves well to more intimate gatherings like wedding celebrations, too. When attendee engagement is prioritized and both in-person and online guests are treated with care,  hybrid events feel personal and special. Hosting an engagement party or a baby shower as a hybrid event isn’t the end of the world! They’re a great option to get faraway friends and family involved, to work with a smaller budget or to account for extenuating circumstances when you still want to celebrate with the ones you love.

4. 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards

Awards shows are a time-honored tradition that may seem tricky to shift from in-person to hybrid. When the pandemic hit, the entertainment industry had to innovate, and fast, as awards season approached. The 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards, honoring achievements in television acting, writing and directing, rose to the occasion, pulling off one of the more engaging COVID-era awards shows. The broadcast included an in-person component at the Staples Center, hosted by comedian Jimmy Kimmel and a cast of celebrity presenters, while hundreds of nominees Zoomed in from all over the world.

What event planners can learn

Hybrid events have the capacity to host large numbers of people across the globe without difficulty. It may seem like a feat, but the Emmys perfected the high-volume hybrid event. So can you! Don’t be scared of a large scope; with the right tech providers and management tools, like PheedLoop’s hybrid event platform, hosting a major hybrid event is more doable than you think. And when done right, hybrid events have the power to connect a diverse, global audience you may not be able to reach with an in-person event alone.

5. CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices COVID-19 Vaccine Approval Meetings

In December 2020, the United States’ Center for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) met via video conference in order to approve the widespread use of the three major COVID-19 vaccines. Committee members, gathering in small groups in-person, held the committee meeting over video that was then broadcast for U.S. citizens to tune into on TV and YouTube. This is a hybrid event format - actively hosting meeting participants in groups in-person and passively hosting folks at home watching the meeting unfold, with the meeting’s content made available online after the event. It’s a basic format, but it served their purposes well; since 80% of people join virtual events for educational purposes, an event that actively hosted committee members and made information available for passive viewers made this a smart hybrid.

What event planners can learn

Hybrid events are primed for educational content. If you’re working with a smaller budget or a tighter timeline, choosing a hybrid event format that allocates resources to your in-person components and passively hosts virtual attendees still allows you to share important information to both audiences. Hybrid events don’t have to be flashy or involved to be effective, depending on the type of event. You can even try using a hybrid format to build your online content library with recorded in-person programming that attendees can keep coming back to and reference.

Conclusion

Hybrid events aren’t just a fad. They’re the future of events, and organizers are starting to take notice. From sports to entertainment to weddings, hybrid events can look like anything, and that’s the beauty of them! Hybrid formats can reach vast audiences, engage virtual attendees and serve as a useful educational resource, as well as pull off more intimate, personal events with ease. Learn from the pros -- consider incorporating hybrid formats into your event strategy for 2021 and beyond.

Ready to create your next hybrid experience? See how PheedLoop has perfected hybrid event management.

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PheedLoop is an all-in-one event management platform for live, virtual and hybrid events. Our platform powers events for associations, corporations, agencies, educational institutions and governments worldwide including Shopify, Government of Canada, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, IBM and more. We commit ourselves to being a highly product focused company, and are dedicated to releasing new features and product updates every week since our founding in 2015. We post regular updates like this one to our blog.

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