Eventbrite hosted the RECONVENE summit in May 2021, bringing together thousands of event producers. We’re sharing key takeaways from popular sessions — on topics like safely returning to in-person events, the future of virtual, and best practices for hybrid events — on our blog and our RECONVENE Recaps hub.
On March 12, 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic was just creeping onto Americans’ radar, CraftJam sent an email to its customers, telling them its social crafting studio in New York would be closed for one month. It hasn’t reopened since.
But founder and CEO Nora Abousteit found terrific success with virtual events and plans to continue livestreams even as CraftJam’s in-person events resume, opting for a hybrid business model.
“Often when you close a door, a window opens,” she said during Eventbrite’s RECONVENE summit. “Event creators are the people that guide people back into social life and help them feel comfortable and safe.”
Abousteit shared tips for event creators on adopting a hybrid business model for events going forward. Here are five top takeaways that can inform your planning process.
Watch Nora Abousteit’s full talk below:
Hybrid events best practices #1:
Rethink your SEO and PR efforts to reach new audiences
When CraftJam started offering virtual events, it suddenly became a global company — not just a New York business.
That meant adopting new best practices for hybrid events, such as adjusting and expanding SEO and PR efforts to reach people who had left the city and still wanted to be part of the CraftJam community. They could also appeal to those who had never been able to be part of it but would welcome the opportunity.
CraftJam also had to figure out how to ship craft supplies to its newly dispersed audience, and opted for sending slim pouches instead of bulky kits. It will continue to do so as it embraces hybrid events for the long term.
Hybrid events best practices #2:
View virtual and in-person events as complementary, not competitive
“IRL means in real life, but online is real too,” Abousteit said. “For us, it was a lifesaver to be online.”
Virtual events shouldn’t be viewed as a competition or substitution to in-person events — they’re complementary, and not a matter of either/or. This new online event medium targets a completely different audience, and by hosting both in person and online, and by incorporating hybrid meetings best practices, you’ll encourage crossover between the two audiences.
Hybrid events lead to more opportunities for more customers, and longer relationships with your existing patrons.
Hybrid events best practices #3:
Utilise the same systems and event partners for virtual and in-person events
A pivot is much easier if you have an existing infrastructure that you can tweak, Abousteit said. Her advice for hybrid events best practices covered three main areas:
1. Find the right virtual event platform(s) to fit your business needs. Look for the features that are most important to you. Virtual event platforms are often made to integrate seamlessly with each other, so you can easily connect your ticketing platform to your streaming platform, for example. When looking for features that are most important, consider which tools plug into the services you already use and plan to keep.
2. Technology overload is confusing to customers, so try to simplify the process. The goal is to reduce customer inquiries and make it super easy for them to join virtual events. Make sure to include instructions for logging on to the event in multiple places — email notifications, website homepage — so that it’s easy to find the link when the event begins.
3. It’s better to over-communicate than to under-communicate. Make sure that your event ticketing page and follow-up emails repeat the same information about your event’s date and start time, what to expect at the event, as well as how to connect to the virtual component in a clear, concise way so that no questions remain. You’ll get fewer inquiries that require responses, saving you and your attendees time and effort.
Hybrid events best practices #4:
Communicate with your registered guests
Keeping communications with your attendees open and flowing can enhance a feeling of community and caring that can inspire return business. Eventbrite makes it easy to send emails to all your registered guests, and remind them of start times, location, how to connect online, and other important information.
This ease of communication has helped organisations such as the popular retailer Anthropologie stay connected to its customers. “Just the ease of navigating around Eventbrite was another great feature,” Junior PR & Events Manager Joty Kauer says. “It’s great having all your details in one place, and being able to email everybody in one go if there are any changes or cancellations, or if events are put on hold.”
Along with electronic communications, training your team and organisers on interpersonal communications can foster better understanding among team members and a more welcoming response from guests. Abousteit suggests providing training on how to adopt a caring, compassionate tone. When people feel comfortable and secure in themselves, they are more likely to share and create new connections.
Hybrid events best practices #5:
Recognise the limits of technology and adapt
For Abousteit, CraftJam involves a lot of teaching and interacting with students as they learn new skills in knitting, painting, ceramics, calligraphy, and more. But to keep virtual participants engaged, she had to adjust her best practices for hybrid events and be aware of the distance a camera can create between viewer and subject.
“Teaching IRL [in real life] is about demonstrating with your hands specific crafts,” she explains. She quickly realised she would need two cameras for the virtual component of her events: one to include her face, so her audience could feel connected to her visually, and one to focus on her hands, to better show their movements and the techniques of the various crafts.
Including a second or even a third camera can also help vary your visual presentation, creating a more satisfying experience for online participants. Just be sure to place them in discreet locations so they don’t intrude on the in-person experience.
Your streaming platform should make it easy to incorporate more than one camera, and either offer your virtual audience both feeds or cut back and forth between shots as you like.
We’re here to help
Team up with Eventbrite to discover how to make your events more impactful. Watch your audience expand when you offer both virtual and in-person ticket options. Take what you learned from these resources and apply it to your next event with help from our event experts.