The Hybrid Event Toolkit: 5 Steps to Making Your Activation a Success

September 23, 2021

John D’Adamo

John D’Adamo is head of U.S. sales at VenuIQBased in Florida, he boasts more than 10 years of experience within the events industry and has built long-standing relationships with some of the world’s most respected brands. His appointment and goal of establishing VenuIQ’s American entity mark a pivotal moment in the company’s development.

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the events industry was forced to quickly pivot to an alternative format incorporating video and networking software, and virtual events soon became the norm to keep the industry moving safely.  

Now that venues have reopened, and a pathway to normality is forming, hybrid will continue to play a crucial role in allowing organizers to combine the best features of virtual, such as global accessibility, with the elements that make live events so popular, like networking. 

Try using this toolkit to help you navigate and make the most of this new era of the events industry. 

1.     Refine your ecosystem

The attendee experience is vital for ensuring attendees are satisfied and excited to return should your event run again. Therefore, after choosing an appropriate event technology provider, building a relationship with them to make sure you are getting the most out of the services they provide is key to creating an easy-to-use and consistent ecosystem. 

Using the same vendor for as many aspects of your event as possible is a great way to create fluidity across live and virtual components and helps make the experience as seamless as possible for those attending.  

Working in true partnership with your event tech company will move the focus from disjointed apps, websites and video software to the content that is provided across one, unified software provider. 

2.     Take advantage of AI

Often seen as a buzzword in today’s tech landscape, Artificial Intelligence has already proven its worth to event organizers looking to run winning hybrid events. 

AI is currently being utilized to improve efficiency across the events industry, and we are set to see greater and deeper integration in line with the increased reliance on the live aspect of events. For example, U.S. AI software company Celayix uses machine learning to create non-conflicting and effective schedules that ensure the most efficient teams are using their time in the best way possible. For events, this can mean sending the relevant delegates to the most influential talks and presentations without impeding work or leisure time. 

Giving as many tasks to AI as possible will allow you to focus on content to create the best attendee experience possible. From automatic scheduling and attendee management to live dictation for subtitles and translation, integrating AI now is a futureproof way to increase operational efficiency as the tools become more refined and readily available.  

3.     Restructure your budget

When spreading your event budget across both live and virtual platforms, traditional events management finance models can quickly become dated. Therefore, take the time to restructure your budget to ensure event attendees—both virtual and live—benefit.

For example, adjusting your catering budget to accommodate for fewer attendees could give you scope to further invest in video conferencing software without detracting from the experience for those attending in-person. There is a range of software available to support these decisions, including the intuitive Mint mobile app. Managing and tweaking your budget on something like Mint in accordance with external factors will allow for more effective and managed spending.

With the event industry recovering from an unprecedented period of uncertainty, return on investment is key, and sensible and measured budget adjustments can ensure more tickets are sold, helping you recoup money lost throughout the pandemic. 

4.     Structure your event to benefit attendees

Being considerate of both virtual and in-person attendees is vital in making them feel comfortable, welcomed and valued, and the structure of your event will dictate whether both parties feel like a part of the event or merely an onlooker.  

Implementing virtual Q&A software to allow all attendees to engage, as well as holding smaller, intimate in-person seminars, can create an inclusive atmosphere that leaves all attendees satisfied with the return on their ticket purchase.  

Proving the worth of your event with a structure that benefits all is key to encouraging them to return year-on-year and converting virtual attendees to live when the time comes.  

5.     Invest in interactivity

As already mentioned, the balancing act of catering for both virtual and live attendees is key for creating a truly beneficial experience that delivers value for the businesses paying for their employees to attend.  

There is no doubt that the virtual experience is different from live, but it also opens up unique opportunities for those who choose to attend remotely. 

For example, a virtual mixology evening session from a vendor such as Cocktail Curations can extend the delegate experience beyond the event venue and leave a lasting impression of being more than just an event and instead, an experience. Alternatively, wellness sessions can give virtual and in-person attendees the chance to take some time to themselves and slow down among the busy events schedule while demonstrating your commitment to self-care for your guests.

Interactive sessions are proven to increase engagement levels among all event audiences and can also make your activation stand out against the hundreds of events returning across the country. 

The Bottom Line

With fewer live attendees expected at events for the foreseeable future, smaller venues, less catering and skeleton on-site staff can all allow you to save money, which you can reinvest into enriching a hybrid event and making it truly unforgettable.

By following the above steps and adapting with the changing landscape, you can create an engaging and memorable event experience for all, no matter how they choose to attend.    

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.