In-person events are returning, but it’s clear that virtual events are here to stay. Many creators are searching for hybrid event ideas that will let them capture both in-person and online audiences. You can provide the best of both worlds – live and virtual – in one event to meet the needs and preferences of attendees while growing your community. Putting together an event with both an in-person and online component is a lot of work, but there are plenty of benefits that make the effort worthwhile.
As you’ll see from the hybrid events examples we’ve pulled together from some of our creators, these events aren’t about tacking on a livestream as an afterthought. Successful hybrid events consider the needs and desires of both local and virtual audiences and seek to please everyone. If you’re aiming to expand your reach and keep your event options open, look to some exciting hybrid events that our creators have held to inspire you.
What is a hybrid event?
Hybrid events are in-person experiences that are also livestreamed to virtual attendees. Some examples of hybrid events include an in-person concert that is simultaneously livestreamed to an online audience, or a walking tour company that offers on-site tours and webinars to discuss the key information from the tour alongside a slideshow of pictures.
Coming up with hybrid event ideas may seem challenging. However, it gives you a unique opportunity to think about the different ways your audience likes to engage, as well as how you can best reach them. Creating two rich experiences – at the same time – for different potential audiences can increase your reach and your revenue.
What are the benefits of hybrid events?
A hybrid approach combines the intimacy and excitement of an in-person experience with the accessibility of a virtual component. A livestreamed, virtual event can reach a larger, more widespread audience, giving fans or customers who can’t attend an in-person event the opportunity to get involved. By expanding your audience, you diversify your revenue stream, which will help fund the increased costs of new and changing COVID-19 procedures.
The different parts of a hybrid event should be complementary, not competitive. Creators have found that their hybrid event ideas attract two separate audiences who appreciate the choice between in-person and virtual elements. Many people are starting to feel safe attending live events and welcome the sense of community that they bring. Others appreciate the option of attending virtually – opting for the safest social distancing when feeling ill, or to better navigate attending around other commitments.
Lincoln Park Zoo’s surprise hybrid event success
Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo heavily relies on events for revenue, since admission to the zoo is free. Prior to the pandemic, the zoo hosted more than 50 in-person events per year. So, it was crucial to quickly pivot when COVID-19 made these types of events impossible. The zoo began to host online events where the audience got to see inside the animal enclosures, often getting a better view of shy animals than they would have in person. After an online event, the zoo is able to immediately send a survey to participants and get quick feedback, which is crucial for planning future events.
Test out new hybrid event ideas on your audience
The team at the Lincoln Park Zoo built an international audience for their virtual events, and now they’re using online event insights to inform in-person events. Facebook Live makes it easy for the team to test out new ideas, such as when they hosted a live event within the reptile enclosure and monitored the response from the audience to decide whether or not to set up a larger virtual event focused on the reptiles. Online events taught the Lincoln Park Zoo team about how to respond to attendee feedback and helped solve challenges.
Yogis embrace hybrid event ideas
Athletic trainers and exercise instructors, particularly those who teach yoga, embraced hybrid events as a way to stay connected with their clients and communities during a year of lockdowns and social distancing. Many yogis saw the International Day of Yoga as an opportunity to reach out, both in-person and online. Since the day is always celebrated on the summer solstice – the longest day of the year – it was a great opportunity to draw people outside for events. Amanda York set up her event along the River Thames in London at sunset, and Jenny Normand held her session in Josey Lake Park in Houston, Texas.
Adding a virtual component in different ways
York chose to include her virtual audience by holding an online event about wellness the day before the actual International Day of Yoga. That way, yogis unable to make it to the Thames could still participate. Normand streamed her event on Facebook Live for those who couldn’t get to the park and noted that due to her virtual events, her Shaka Power Yoga studio has now become an international brand.
Flexibility is key for Anthropologie
Like many event creators, Anthropologie introduced online events when it had to halt in-store events, and found itself reaching an even bigger audience. The global retail brand was used to holding a variety of successful in-person events, such as pop-up markets, DIY tutorials, and fashion shows. It continued to get creative with online and hybrid event ideas, hosting dream decoding sessions, face yoga, and more. Its online events can hold a maximum of 500 attendees, which has helped expand its reach.
Returning to the store
Anthropologie is slowly bringing back in-store events but on a much smaller scale. These in-person events have a maximum of six attendees, and most of them are still occurring via Zoom. The creators try to ensure that the content of their in-person events is easy to convert into an online event if possible, and hope to stream larger, in-person events to a virtual audience in the future.
CraftJam’s hybrid event business model
CraftJam’s social crafting studio in New York City has been closed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the company has successfully pivoted to a virtual events model. Like Jenny Normand’s yoga studio, CraftJam has expanded its presence globally and has no intention of alienating its new international audience.
Making the switch to online and hybrid event ideas meant a change in marketing strategy: the creators at CraftJam sought to appeal to previous community members who had left New York City and new potential attendees who were eager to embrace the new digital events. The team emphasised providing not just physical safety to their attendees, but emotional safety, creating a comfortable space for all.
Keeping in-person aspects local
While CraftJam is eager to return to in-person events, they plan to keep things small. Founder and CEO Nora Abousteit suggests finding safe local environments, catering to groups, and allowing people to relax and talk during the event – something that many have missed over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Feeling inspired by these hybrid event examples?
If you’ve got some hybrid event ideas ready to go, you’ll need a virtual event platform that will support your vision. Learn more about how Eventbrite can help you host the online portion of your event and sell different ticket types to your separate audiences.
Remember: before planning and hosting any in-person event, check your latest government guidelines.