Hybrid Meetings: One Size Does Not Fit All, Survey Respondents Say

Business event organizers are creating hybrid events as varied as the organizations they serve. Respondents to our latest COVID-19 Dashboard share how theirs will look.

Author: Curt Wagner       

hybrid meetings

Organizers of a hybrid Global Meetings Industry Day event at the Conrad Hilton in New York City conduct a technology test run. Hybrid events can be delivered in many formats, results from our latest Dashboard survey show. (Courtesy Stacey Courtney/NYPCMA)

In the latest Business Events Industry Dashboard survey, conducted March 22-25, we asked meeting organizers to share how they plan to design their upcoming hybrid events. The largest number — 105 of 299 planners responding to the question — skipped the four options we provided, choosing instead to answer “other” and explain their particular takes on hybrid meetings.

The variety of hybrid strategies they shared show that event professionals, as Convene editors wrote in the Winter 2020 cover story, are tapping into their creativity to find solutions for challenges brought on by the pandemic. It also further proves a point made by Pete Riddell, executive creative director, customer experience and storytelling at the marketing agency Derse, in a recent white paper: Hybrid can be delivered in many iterations.

One respondent to our survey noted that financial considerations were key to the decision-making: “Due to costs we are looking at how to have a few breakouts equipped to record and will publish online to paid attendees after.”

Those who stated they plan to record some or all of their in-person conference sessions to create an online version later — as the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin recently did — offered different timeframes for the online event:

  • “In-person event with a virtual component of taped sessions from the in-person that will be posted within 24 hours. All participants can interact via the conference app.”
  • “Live, in-person with capture for a rebroadcast a few weeks later with interactive Q&A.”

Of the four options we spelled out in the survey question (see graphic), the most popular chosen was a simultaneous, small in-person event with streaming video and a separate online program for a virtual audience — with the ability for both audiences to interact with each other. Below, find more of the other hybrid models respondents shared in the survey, many of which are variations on similar themes, but reflect the particular goals of each organization.

  • “Simultaneous in-person event with streaming video and content capture, with integrated online program for digital audience, with the ability for both audiences to interact via the event platform. Some exclusive content for both audiences.”
  • “Simultaneous, in-person event with streaming content. The content will be the same, but the experiences and the engagements will be different. Look to schoolteachers and how they are teaching hybrid classrooms as a guide.”
  • “Simultaneous smaller in-person event (1,000 people) with streaming video and most of the same program content for both audiences. There will also be some additional content just for the virtual audience.”
  • “Hub-and-spoke model held on separate dates over a three-week period with live streaming to a digital audience. We also have online-only sessions that both digital and face-to-face audiences can access on the same online platform.”
  • “For one [event], I have a small regional group with streaming and separate online program with the ability to interact. For the other, more than 1,000 in-person (national) attendees with 2,000 virtual where content is streamed without a separate virtual agenda and no interaction between the in-person and virtual attendee.”
  • “Two separate experiences: in-person as it was pre-pandemic, and then a limited virtual option of our top 11 presentations pre-recorded. Limited virtual option will have a greatly reduced price; in-person will remain the same pricing as pre-pandemic.”
  • “Larger in-person events with ‘hub’-oriented setup, small pods up to 10 people per pod … food and drink delivery via QR codes.”
  • “We are delivering our convention in three formats. In-person with main hub plus eight to nine satellite locations streaming one day of content of the four-day program with interactive workshops and engagement available at both the main hub and other locations. We are also delivering a virtual two-day event streaming in the content from the main plenary room for two days of the convention.”
  • “We are doing both simultaneously — an in-person event with streaming video for virtual audience but no separate online program content for digital participants; and a hub-and-spoke model with small, regional in-person events held simultaneously with separate content for digital audience.”
  • “Large in-person event with streaming video for virtual audience; no separate online content for digital participants.”

Curt Wagner is digital editor at Convene.

RELATED: 6 Questions to Consider While Planning Your Hybrid Future

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