A Q&A with Regional Sales Manager Luke Stevenson, PSAV on the rise of hybrid events

Hybrid events are certainly nothing new in the events industry, however they are fast becoming the 'new normal'. Companies and organisers are looking for safe but effective ways to host meetings, conferences, workshops and more, and hybrid events offer the best of both worlds.

What are hybrid events?

Hybrid events combine traditional, live, in-person events with an online or digital component. Suitable for workshops, meetings, conferences, tradeshows and more, hybrid events aim to provide a similar experience to both online and live attendees, with opportunities for both types of attendee to interact and engage.

Hybrid events at Twickenham

At Twickenham Stadium, we benefit from having our experienced in house AV partner PSAV, to provide our clients with top AV expertise. With the latest hybrid event technology at our disposal, including a 1GB bearer with a live back up, onsite AV specialists, and specially developed hybrid packages, we'll make sure your hybrid event runs smoothly from start to finish.

As well as having the technical tools and know-how to run a successful hybrid event, we'll also work hard to ensure that your in-person guests are safe during their stay. We've put social distancing measures in place across the stadium, each group has a dedicated cleaner to keep their rooms sanitised, and all staff members are equipped with PPE at all times.

Find out more about hybrid events at Twickenham here.

Hybrid event costs

As with in-person events, the cost of hybrid events will vary depending on factors such as the size of the audience, the technology needed for the digital element of the event, and the live event venue.

While the technology required for a digital event may require more budget than the technology for an in-person event, you may save money in other areas, such as catering, accommodation and travel costs. We've put together a number of cost-effective hybrid event packages to make your hybrid event as affordable as possible.

Want to find out more about planning a hybrid event? We chatted to PSAV Regional Sales Manager, Luke Stevenson, to get some top tips for those considering a hybrid event.

1. 'Hybrid' and 'pivot' seem to be the buzzwords of 2020. As leaders in event production and AV, have PSAV seen many of its existing events pivot to hybrid events?

Whilst there is a strong desire to get back to the normal live event format, that's not possible right now. But clients still need to communicate with customers, suppliers and their own teams, so they're seeking new ways to do this until more traditional, face-to-face events are possible again. Venues are realising just how important it is to have hybrid event packages and options if they want to maintain revenue streams. We're starting to see increasing numbers of hybrid events as venues re-open in the UK and across other international markets.

2. What are the benefits of hosting a hybrid event?

With reduced meeting space capacities in place, it's difficult to host events with a large number of guests. The main benefit of a hybrid event is that organisers don't need to reduce the number of attendees, in fact, it can actually be increased quite considerably simply by adding a hybrid element.

A hybrid event allows you to maintain a 'business as usual' approach while staying safe and operating in line with the latest guidance. This means you don't need to lose valuable contact with your attendees and colleagues.

Within our MeetSAFE recommendations, we're focusing mainly on three new hybrid meeting designs, from larger groups in multiple rooms at the same venue, through to hybrid meeting options where we bring attendees from multiple venues and multiple rooms together. Using hybrid technology solutions, such as live streaming, we can create an experience that feels as if everyone is meeting together as one.

3. What advice would you give to an event planner looking to organise a hybrid event?

In-person meetings and virtual events aren't the same. That said, when planning events, the main aim is to master the basics of event planning. So, speak to a company with acknowledged expertise - not only in the area of virtual and hybrid meetings ­but also in the field of events in general.

Whether you're planning a hybrid workshop, hybrid tradeshow or hybrid conference, allow enough time for planning your hybrid event. A virtual or hybrid event needs the same preparation as an in-person event, if not more. Finally, you should consider aligning the different customer journeys when on-site meets on-screen, with considerations given to both agenda and content design.

At PSAV, when it comes to creating a meaningful and engaging hybrid event experience, we're lucky enough to benefit from the exceptional experience of our global network. With safety as a top priority, we align our MeetSAFE recommendations with the specific safety policies of our venue partners to ensure peace of mind for our event guests - from cleaning guidelines to room flow, from meeting designs to technical considerations.

4. What about hybrid event costs? As technology plays a central role in delivering hybrid events, do they require a higher budget?

Hybrid event costs don't necessarily have to be significantly higher than traditional events. We have an offering for almost every budget, from a single webcam and laptop to a major production with multiple cameras, interactivity through Q&A and polling, personalised apps and corporate branding. While we do anticipate a slight uplift in spend on technology, there will be savings made on traditional travel, refreshments and accommodation budgets.

5. What would be your top three tips for a speaker preparing to give a presentation at a hybrid event?

Keep your presentation short! No longer than 20 minutes - less is more. Speakers should include only high-level bullet points on the PowerPoint, key words which are important to the messaging. This prompts the audience to listen for additional context and helps increase engagement with participants.

Presenters need to create a dialogue with the audience and interact with participants as often as possible. Aim for interaction approximately every 10 minutes, using voting, Q&As, comparative voting and more. We're not in an in-person meeting so this interaction is crucial to allow the speakers to benefit from the traditional social cues they would normally pick up on, such as applause, laughter, etc. When you're planning a hybrid event, build in an interactive element, so the speaker can gauge the room and the virtual space, ensuring that the messages are resonating and landing.

Rehearse. Rehearse. Rehearse. Treat your online presentation as though you're speaking on stage in front of hundreds of attendees and check with your production team before you start to ensure that you're fully familiar with any technology being used to deliver the hybrid event.

6. How can you engage the virtual audience at home in the same way you would a live audience?

We already see this happening. It's all about aligning the on-site experience with the on-screen experience.

Hybrid meeting organisers are sending out packages by post to virtual participants, containing the same materials as those being handed out to the people physically present at the venue.

Ensure regular breaks during speeches and, if you have multiple speakers, interchange them regularly if possible. Allow more time for Q&As and invite participation by means of polling or voting. If you're planning a hybrid event, we can help you with all of these aspects.

7. What metrics can be used to track whether a hybrid event is a success?

We have GDPR compliant data collection technology available which can provide detailed metrics about a hybrid event. For example, our Chime Live product can produce specific reports to provide a deeper dive into the activity of your participants. We can tailor settings in pre-production to provide as much or as little data as required post event.

8. Networking obviously forms a huge part of a live event. Are there any good solutions for virtual networking at a hybrid event?

There are a number of solutions for networking to suit any type of hybrid event. One of the many features inside our proprietary product Chime Live is a delegate hub, which can be used to search attendees, exchange digital business cards, arrange meetings and send instant messages.

There are also options to build virtual exhibition spaces, virtual rooms and virtual drinks receptions, where attendees can meet via a live chat function. These could be hosted by sponsors, and maybe some kind of shared experience or activity could be included as a bit of an ice breaker, where it's practical to do so. Virtual cocktail making has been a popular idea for one recent customer who posted out cocktail kits to a select group of virtual attendees. As with any live event, it's important for us to understand the requirements and the context in order to suggest the right solution but there is, generally speaking, something to suit every event.

If you are attending a hybrid event, remember it is still the workplace, so you'll need to stay professional, from your language through to your wardrobe.

Always be ready to exchange details, ensure your digital business cards and Linked In profiles are up to date.

Know your contact details for Skype and other platform so you can give them out at a moment's notice. It doesn't look good if you agree to a call with someone and then can't remember your own details.

Know the technology you're using. It can be at best frustrating, at worst embarrassing, to press the wrong button.

If you're planning a hybrid meeting, a hybrid conference, a hybrid workshop or a hybrid tradeshow, we can help. Our skilled and experienced team will help you plan your hybrid event, ensuring it runs smoothly and is a success. Get in touch to find out more about our hybrid event packages and hybrid event costs.

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