Since the world went into lockdown there has been an insatiable appetite for connectivity; brands, families, friends and businesses have sought ways to keep in touch with novel ideas for celebrating occasions and milestones. As I have said previously the event industry, which I love so dearly, was one of the first to be rocked by the pandemic and will likely be one of the last to fully recover. Yet I am proud to report my fellow event professionals haven’t shied away from the challenge, proving resilient and resourceful as ever, hunting out alternate ways to engage audiences. The result have been amazing with a new breed of events popping up everywhere – from conferences to virtual venue tours to team-building zooms to Friday night bingo! So it seems the most popular type of event for the coming months is likely to be the ‘hybrid event’, a totally modern blend of live and virtual engagement. Read on to find out my take on hybrid events with my five top tips for success.
Take a seat and enjoy
For the live element of your hybrid event, I would recommend opting for a seated event so that guest flow and social distancing can be managed as effectively as possible. It is best to reduce the numbers at each table, for example dinners would usually have 10 or 12 guests at each table however to support social distancing you could bring this down to six. All catering can be delivered using table service only, with any after dinner bars being scrapped and replaced with exciting after dinner cocktails and sweet treats served to the table. To ensure you have a virtual element to the event, have a dial-in option with interactive tablets positioned on the tables where guests can join in from home or remote office.
Remote doesn’t mean left out
You may have guests interacting from their home or office and it is essential to still make them feel a big part of the event. This can be easily achieved by taking time and care during the planning process. Perhaps you could send out pre event care packages so they can experience the same food, drinks or activities as the actual guests at the event. For example if there’s cocktails at the event then send them a cocktail making kit, fancy dress if it is a themed event, a pamper package if they’re missing a cosy overnight stay in a hotel, or a simple afternoon tea package if they feel they won’t be enjoying the yummy lunch by not attending. If the event is a conference or similar, use polling and online Q&A systems to keep people sitting at their desk and participating rather than walking off in boredom.
Leave the dancing to the professionals
For the majority of events, of course you will want to include some entertainment, either to impress your guests or to treat delegates. As we get back into live events I would recommend saying no to the disco for now and opt for stage entertainment for people to watch from the comfort and safety of their seat instead. This will really help you to ensure guests feel comfortable for the duration of the event whilst still being entertained!
Call the experts to save yourself time and worry
Hybrid events are new and unchartered territory to most with their success hinging on careful planning and execution. The additional element of managing remote audiences and technology add layers of complexity and therefore potential headache, and as such I would always advise using a professional company with experience of hosting similar events. My personal favourites are the team at Eventify who have delivered these types of events many times especially when dealing with international delegates and guests who couldn’t attend the event in person yet their participation was still vital. Outsourcing the management to a reputable event organiser can save you bags of time, money and provide the all-important reassurance that your tech reliant event is in safe hands.
For a lot of corporate organisations, an annual budget is set for events which covers everything from meetings to Christmas parties to client entertaining. After speaking to lots of event organisers within large organisations, I know a lot of these budgets will be sitting pretty much untouched this year so why not make use of it and add a charity element to any virtual events or celebrations. Do you have a summer party which is cancelled? Put the budget to good use and team up with a charity to organise for staff to help at a local food bank or volunteer their time delivering community resources. It’s the perfect option in place of a staff party because it’s a way of bringing everyone together for a shared goal.
So that’s my top five top tips for organising hybrid events in 2020. There are lots of considerations to think about and the way you choose to run your hybrid event will of course very much depend on the style and reason for the event, as well as your budget and brand values. With any event, I say the best way to get started is to ask yourself two questions; what’s the most important part of this event and what do we want to achieve by holding it?
One of the main challenges businesses are facing right now is ensuring their staff feel valued, involved and safe, as well as keeping in touch with their clients in new engaging ways. Hybrid events are the perfect opportunity to tackle this and something I see being the ‘new normal’ within the events world for a long time.
If you are looking to organise a hybrid, virtual or live event and you’re not sure where to begin, get in touch with the friendly and experienced team at Eventify who can help you with any size event. They know their stuff and they ensure every event is special.
Diary of a Party Girl