As times change, companies have found ways to capitalise on livestreaming. What’s come of this is the ability to record an event with live attendees and broadcast it to people who are watching anywhere they please. This doesn’t sound too different from sports programming, but it’s impressive how far we’ve come – now any business is able to pull this off.

Hybrid events are live events that involve both an in-person and virtual audience. Hybrid meetings and conferences have been hugely beneficial to creators, since they offer a wider reach and create organic marketing materials for future use. Hybrid events add a livestreaming component in-person events, making them essentially two events in one. A good hybrid event should offer value to both of its audiences, without either feeling like their experience was inferior.

In this guide, we’ll discuss:

  • Why you should host a hybrid conference in 2021 and beyond
  • Six exceptional hybrid conference examples
  • Key takeaways
  • Getting ready to plan your next hybrid event

Why you should host a hybrid conference in 2021 and beyond

Hybrid meetings and events became part of business operations out of necessity during the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but now many people are comfortable with attending events virtually. Hybrid events no longer need to be only about safety precautions, and can be more about offering your audience the opportunity to attend your event in a way that works best for them. If you’ve organised events that are exclusively in-person or online-only, you’re missing out on many benefits that come with airing hybrid conferences.

Hybrid meetings and events are a great way to increase your attendance and revenue for each broadcast. If you have limited seating at your venue, you can always sell virtual tickets so those who are still interested can take part in your conference remotely. This means you can justify charging a premium price for in-person tickets. Your ticket prices should be based on the perceived value that you are offering, so it’s important to adjust the prices for different ticket types accordingly. Consider offering additional perks to your virtual tickets, such as exclusive merchandise or other offerings, or create tiers of virtual tickets that come with different bonuses.

One of the biggest benefits of hybrid events is that they are very unlikely to be postponed or canceled. If there are changes in health guidelines or weather, or if something else comes up, the event can be turned into an online-only event so it can still happen at the scheduled time and all your paid attendees can participate.

Eventbrite can allow you to organise an event that sells both in-person and online tickets.

6 exceptional hybrid conference examples

The COVID-19 pandemic presented many challenges when it came to event planning. Creators responded to those challenges by coming up with plenty of creative and inventive ways to connect people online. Today, many businesses are on the rebound with various events on the calendar, and they’re offering alternative ways to participate. Here are six Eventbrite hybrid conference ideas that are sure to inspire you.

1. London EV Show 2021

The London EV Show is a trade show centred around electric cars. With the electric vehicle industry expected to grow to 2.4 billion dollars by 2027, businesses are encouraged to purchase a booth as an attempt to network or get noticed by car enthusiasts, members of the press, and other companies.

Valiant Business Media, the parent company of the London EV Show, promises this to be a “global gathering” to determine the latest electric car trends and share innovations with visionaries and leaders. The show offers a car showcase, keynote speakers, and options for both virtual and in-person attendance. The virtual experience includes forum discussions and a Q&A to keep attendees engaged.

2. Environmental Justice Conference 2021

At South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD)’s seventh annual Environmental Justice Conference in Ontario, the virtual attendance option not only saved on carbon emissions but made the event more global. The tagline “The Fight for Clean Air, Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow,” encouraged visitors to discuss the current state of the environment and devise innovative solutions with public health guides for a healthier and cleaner atmosphere for the future.

There were perks for in-person attendance too, like complimentary food and parking, as well as a live glimpse of keynote speaker Arnold Schwarzenegger.

3. 2021 MIT Sloan CFO Summit

Finance executives and CFOs at the 2021 MIT Sloan CFO Summit focused on “optimism and excellence” as they looked for ways to move forward in a society dominated by COVID-19.

The conference’s popularity took off in 2020 when it went virtual due to the pandemic. Now, they’re offering different pricing tiers for public vs. in-person attendance, with perks for MIT alums and students, too. Offering multiple price points allows organisers to maximise both revenue and attendance.

4. Data Science Conference (DSC) US Healthtech 2021

The DSC US Healthtech Conference originated in Serbia, but now hosts speakers and guests from all over the world. Their conference has gone fully hybrid so that it can go on as planned even during lockdowns in certain markets.

The DSC’s tiered ticketing approach includes an “Open Day Ticket” that grants attendees free online access for the first day only. If they want to see more, they’ll need to purchase the full streaming ticket. The paid tickets also offer the extra perk of playback access to rewatch keynote speeches after the conference is over.

5. TechFest Education Conference 2021

The 10-year-strong TechFest Education Conference invites school district administrators to look at and try out innovative education and “edutainment” tech products and services for K-12 classrooms. The idea is to get schools inspired to adopt educational technology to make learning more fun and enjoyable for students. Among the types of tech being shared with the public are Chromebook software, eSports, network solutions, and more.

The organisers made this a hybrid event and free to stream online because the companies participating would get more exposure from various school officials around the world. Offering free tickets is a bold move, but it definitely helps boost attendance and, in turn, the return for your sponsors.

6. From Yes to I Do Bridal Show

Tender Moments LLC started hosting multi-day, virtual bridal shows and conferences in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021. They decided that 2021 was the time to take on a hybrid approach. Rather than having an in-person conference that was livestreamed to virtual attendees, the first day of this event was completely virtual, while the second day was entirely in-person.

The virtual day included guests speakers, workshops, a vendor expo, and prizes and giveaways for the attendees. The Yes to I Do Bridal Show private Facebook group broadcasted the event over Facebook Live. The second phase of the event took place a few days later in person and included more speakers and workshops, the continued vendor expo, and a fashion show. There were even more giveaways and prizes for those who could attend in person. Whether attendees were able to attend one or both days, the events were spread out to ensure that there was something for everyone.

Key takeaways

Creating a hybrid event is certainly a big change to your business, but one that can really help you make money, gain exposure, and receive other benefits. Here are our key takeaways to consider as you set up a hybrid conference for the very first time:

  • Get acclimated with hybrid event technology. Familiarise yourself with cameras, mics, speakers, and other equipment to make sure that everyone watching your event has the best experience possible. You only need to do this once, and then you can freely conduct as many hybrid conferences as you need to in the future.
  • Give attendees an incentive to see your conference live. While online viewing might be the most popular choice for the average attendee, you can increase live attendance by offering free food, meet-and-greets, merchandise, and more.
  • Make your broadcast available on-demand after the event. One way to give your events true value is by offering a playback option after the fact. This allows attendees to listen to every presenter on their time.
  • Encourage attendees to network. The future of your event depends on how much your attendees network with one another. Without networking, it can be very hard to share inspiring stories in the coming years, and the more that people collaborate on projects, the more opportunities your event has to grow next year.
  • Consider free tickets. We don’t recommend this for every company, but free tickets can certainly draw more eyeballs to your event. This can be a good thing for your partners, sponsors, and other businesses with products and services on offer. But of course, you’ll need money in order to market the event, so make sure it is a risk that earns you rewards.

Ready to plan your next hybrid event?

Hybrid events can be a big undertaking for just one company. Eventbrite can help you along the way with ticket sales and event management. Start planning your conference with Eventbrite today and start to advertise it within minutes.