Hybrid events have become a new industry favorite—they merge the community benefits of in-person events with the expansive reach and safer environment virtual events provide.

Though hybrid events are exciting and rewarding, they still pose some unique challenges for event managers. This article will discuss some of these difficult challenges and provide solutions for how to overcome them. Learn how to simplify and power your hybrid event planning, and delight attendees with memorable experiences

Where the Hybrid Event Industry Started And Where it’s Going

Virtual events became the mainstay during the pandemic, and they’re still popular because they provide so many benefits. But after an event drought, people started to crave the in-person experience. Hybrid events became the happy medium to satisfy some attendees who preferred to meet in person, and those who wanted the safer environment that virtual participation provides.

What is the future of hybrid events? We believe this is just the beginning. Regardless of how the industry moves, hybrid experiences provide the best of both worlds. They give attendees and sponsors the flexibility to attend in-person or enjoy the event from home if they face health or budget constraints.

Regardless of how you organize your hybrid events, it can be challenging to merge the in-person and virtual event experience and keep attendees engaged. Let’s discuss six hybrid event challenges and how to overcome them to plan immersive, memorable hybrid event experiences.

6 Challenges of Hybrid Events (And How to Overcome Them)

6 Challenges of Hybrid Events (And How to Overcome Them)

1. Creating Ticketing Strategies To Satisfy All Audiences

As events pivoted from in-person to digital, event organizers were challenged to develop fair ticket prices that attracted more people but did not tank their ROI.

Hybrid events combine the in-person component with the virtual experience. Hence, you still have physical venue and production costs, yet you have to cater to virtual attendees who do not expect to pay in-person event prices.

The only way to satisfy attendees without blowing your event budget is to offer pricing tiers. Attendees will only receive what they pay for. A simple way to price tiers for hybrid events would be to offer an in-person event price and a virtual event price.

If you’re hosting attendees at your physical venue, charge those registrants a commensurate fee. Virtual attendees will pay a lower price because they’re not partaking in your in-person catering and festivities.

Now, if only pricing were that simple.

Some virtual attendees might not want to access all aspects of your event. They might be interested in a limited access pass and want to watch only part of the content. Or they might not be available every day of your event and only want to join on Day 2.

Create virtual event tiers that correspond to the attendees’ level of access. Virtual attendees prefer pricing tiers because it gives them more control. They are essentially paying for what they want and not wasting money on features they will never access or use.

Below are some factors that will play into your ticketing strategies and pricing. Consider them before you finalize your ticket prices:

  • Venue (in-person or digital)
  • New or current attendees: Are you offering discounts for past attendees? Early-bird ticket pricing?
  • Content sessions: Not every attendee will be interested in all of your content. Plus, you might want to offer a different level of content access to VIP members or past customers.
  • Scheduling commitment: Do all of your attendees want to engage with you for the entire event? What if they can only join for one day?
  • Event swag (plus shipping)
  • Personalized attendee agendas: If your attendees can curate their agendas, you’ll need to build pricing tiers into your content.
  • Sponsor revenue

2. Planning Two Experiences for One Event

Planning a hybrid event can feel like you’re organizing two separate affairs. Sure, it’s one event, but you’re planning two distinct event experiences, which can be challenging because you have to keep the two interacting seamlessly.

You also have to:

  • Keep in-person speakers and attendees connected with your virtual guests
  • Manage costs and logistics for two separate event experiences
  • Create a unified event experience

To circumvent difficulties, address these hybrid event challenges during the early planning stages. Ensure that all attendees experience similar content so attendees don’t feel isolated. If you offer tiered ticketing with different pricing for in-person and virtual experiences, fully explain what each attendee can expect for the cost so they aren’t disappointed come event time. We will talk more about connecting in-person and virtual attendees in the next section.

When unifying the event experience, choose event technology that seamlessly connects the in-person venue and virtual attendees to your unified event. Your hybrid event management platform should be able to engage your virtual attendees and connect with your physical venue as well.

The National Speakers Association (NSA) partnered with Webex Events to power their hybrid event: Winter Workshop 2021

The National Speakers Association (NSA) partnered with Webex Events to power their hybrid event: Winter Workshop 2021

3. Connecting In-Person and Virtual Attendees

You’ve got attendees, speakers, and production at one venue and potentially hundreds or thousands of attendees sitting at home on their computers. It’s challenging to bring together two entirely different experiences to ensure all parties feel valued and a part of the event activities.

The key is to ensure virtual attendees don’t feel left out of in-person experiences. How do you cater to all attendees’ needs even though your event lives in two separate locations?

Connecting In-Person and Virtual Attendees
  • Set up more touchpoints for your content and event activities: event app, push notifications, email notifications, and social media. Leverage your social media platforms during the event to bring the two venues together via fun day-in-the-life event photos, branded hashtags, sponsor trivia, and any activity that both attendee types can participate in and connect.  
  • Keep your event stage uncluttered so the focus remains on the speaker.
  • Add a projector or video screen to your physical stage that shows your virtual stage and attendees. Add a countdown and information for virtual attendees to keep them abreast of what happens next.
  • Hire a virtual emcee or event host to direct virtual attendees to the action as it happens live, and entertain attendees during breaks and slow times.
  • Choose an experience-first virtual event platform that provides engaging experiences to delight virtual attendees and keeps them connected to your event.

4. Choosing the Right Venue and Virtual Platform

When choosing a hybrid event venue, consider both your in-person and virtual audience. Will speakers be able to interact with virtual attendees? Will virtual attendees focus on the speaker and feel immersed in the event experience? Everything from camera placement to stage setup to decor and lighting will affect both attendee types.

Plus, think outside of the box when choosing your event venue. Instead of standard options such as hotels or conference centers that only allow their vendors, look up independent venues that will enable you to source your own vendors. You’ll also save money going this route because you can better control your hybrid event budget.

Want to learn how to set up your venue and run successful hybrid events? If you want a behind-the-scenes walkthrough of an actual hybrid event, register for our on-demand webinar: When Virtual Meets In-Person: Run a Successful Hybrid Event.

Your virtual event platform is also an integral component of your hybrid event. It must sync seamlessly with your in-person event components so you can effectively manage both simultaneously.

The National Speakers Association Winter Workshop 2021 hosted a hybrid interview (one guest virtually and one in-person) with Webex Events’ event platform.

Choose an event management platform that will facilitate the size and scope of your hybrid event (all under one roof) so you don’t have to switch between multiple tools. Plus, your platform should focus on event experiences and provide real-time engagement activities to keep virtual attendees connected. For more information on choosing event technology, check out our recent article on choosing the best event management tools.

5. Providing Value for Sponsors

Sponsors struggle to find value in virtual or hybrid events as they fear limited exposure. It can be challenging to prove virtual ROI to sponsors.  

Unique sponsorship opportunities can level the playing field and provide sponsors with numerous benefits to participate. Give sponsors ample brand exposure and multiple opportunities to connect with attendees. What does this look like? Here are some ideas:

  • Sponsor-branded activities (in-person and virtual)
  • Pre-recorded sponsor content
  • Live-streamed content sessions
  • Sponsor banners and graphics
  • Swag bags – Send to virtual attendees and hand them out to in-person guests
  • 1:1 networking with attendees – provide sponsors with dedicated session rooms to use throughout the event
Providing Value for Sponsors
Webex Events’ Video Rooms give sponsors 1:1 and group session capabilities to showcase their brand and connect with attendees. In-person and virtual users can connect from wherever they are. 
socio event partners
  • Detailed analytics and data – Sponsors love data, mainly when it includes attendee activity during hybrid events. Ensure your hybrid event platform can track attendee activities, sessions, preferences so you can prove value to sponsors via reliable data.  

Looking for tips on how to show sponsorship value? Check out our blog on tips for structuring your virtual, in-person, and hybrid event sponsorship tiers.

6.  Providing Engaging Experiences for All Attendees

Most hybrid event challenges center around engaging two attendee groups simultaneously. Networking and engagement are the top reasons attendees go to events, but this is more difficult when working with two event venues.

How do you provide engaging experiences for both in-person and virtual attendees? Below are some tips:

  • Hybrid entertainment: Provide crossover hybrid activities and entertainment. Think magicians, acrobats, and other live entertainment that can entertain both live and virtual audiences.
  • Hybrid classes: Host classes where attendees can simultaneously enjoy the content. Meditation classes, cooking classes—any event that can be live-streamed and enjoyed by both audiences.
  • Hybrid emcees: Hire an emcee to host your in-person event venue and liven the activities with personality and fun. The emcee should also crossover and interact with your virtual attendees on your hybrid event platform’s virtual stage.
  • Live chat: Live chat is critical to high-engaging events. As you live stream your hybrid entertainment, enable virtual attendees to chat with other attendees.
  • Hybrid networking: Provide seamless cross-platform networking for both attendee types. Think about video rooms that facilitate 1:1 and group chats and other virtual networking tools.
  • Use the right hybrid tools: Work with a hybrid event management platform that prioritizes engaging experiences.  

Create Seamless Hybrid Events With Webex Events’ Modern Event Technology

Create Seamless Hybrid Events With Webex Events’ Modern Event Technology

To power amazing hybrid events, you need one-stop-shop event technology that seamlessly connects your in-person and virtual audiences.

Enter Webex Events.

Webex Events is an end-to-end event management solution loaded with hybrid and virtual event features that make hybrid event planning simple and rewarding.

Key features for memorable hybrid events:

  • Virtual engagement features such as live chat, polls, Q&A, and gamification
  • Customizable branded registration and event pages
  • Simple mobile event app creation
  • 1:1 networking and group chat
  • ROI-boosting sponsorship opportunities
  • Advanced data and analytics with high-level and granular data; real-time metrics
  • State-of-the-art video streaming and RTMP player
  • Video rooms for attendees and sponsors to connect and network
  • Award-winning support
  • #1 ranked user satisfaction
  • Professional training and services (on-site production and technical support for physical venues)
  • And more!

Want to see how Webex Events powers amazing hybrid events? Schedule a personalized demo today with our Webex Events Event Experts!