Virtual Events Services Company

So, You’re Thinking About A Hybrid Event?

Briefly time travel back to March of 2020 for a minute. As event after event was cancelled or postponed, many companies optimistically eyed the Fall to once again be together in-person. We were hopeful. Our clients were hopeful. The world was hopeful it would all be over by then!

We know, of course, the pandemic persisted and that did not happen. We still got together – but it was by virtual means, with corporations and meeting planners finally acquiescing to the ‘new norm.’

Rejoin me in the present now.

“We’ve been hearing from a lot of our clients that they plan on their Fall [2021] meetings being live to some capacity,” Adrienne Bogner, Centrifuge Media Account Supervisor, said.

Certainly feels like de ja vu, right? Yet there’s one distinctive reason why clients’ hope holds water this time around: the vaccine.

Aiming for fully live by the fall is still a bit bold. So, it makes sense that our clients are starting to throw around ‘Hybrid.’ We’ve already been brainstorming on this.

Let’s talk about the h-word a little more.

“This is new to everyone. Before, hybrid meant we may have some presenters calling in and we’d stream them to a large audience. Now, it could mean so many different things,” Bogner explained.

Among the many possible definitions of hybrid, she said:

Ultimately, it’s case-by-case and defining hybrid boils down to what the client feels comfortable with.

“There’s just a lot that goes into determining what [hybrid] looks like and the cost associated with each different scenario can be highly different,” Kecia Taylor, Senior Account Manager, said.

Taylor explained that hybrid events – big or small – will have unique requirements and companies need to be prepared for that when budgeting. We’re talking about things like internet infrastructure for live streaming and safety measures for staying healthy.

“Staff for added equipment, maybe there’s added measures at the hotel they have to account for,” she rattled off. “Pre-packaging the food. That costs more than a buffet style meal.”

It’s things we didn’t have to think about before but are paramount now.

We’re cognizant of the pandemic’s widespread economic affect. As we eagerly transition back to partially and fully in-person events, we just want to be transparent with our clients.

“How can we make it happen without going over budget?” Taylor said.

Being a hospitality major and coming to Centrifuge after years in that sector, Taylor also wants clients to be aware of two things when planning for their first semi in-person event: first, it may be tough to find a venue in a short amount of time due to mass layoffs in hospitality – so start planning ASAP. Second, clients should be cautious of venue contracts now more than ever so they aren’t burned again by cancellation fees in a worst case scenario.

It’s understandable that clients may feel some apprehension toward planning hybrid or live events, given all these considerations.

Taylor implores clients to not be afraid, though, and encourages ‘baby steps.’

Alright – let’s say your company has defined hybrid and set a budget to accommodate a safe event. You may now be wondering how to bridge the experience between the remote and the in-person attendees and presenters.

“You don’t want the remote people to feel lesser than or less engaged than the face-to-face people and vice versa,” Jack McDonald, Director of Corporate Strategy, said.

But this task will be easier than you think, he added, attributable to all the clever engagement tactics we implemented during virtual events.

The challenge of finding solutions for the virtual world paid off. Now we’ve got all these fantastic methods and tools in our back pocket that can be easily translated into a hybrid style and help blend the experience.

One example is video, McDonald said.

“Those kind of more visual, engaging content pieces that we focused on so much for the virtual environment, I think, are going to be a way to bridge that gap,” he said. For the in-person folks, that would translate to playing video content on the LED walls and screens commonly seen in the audiovisual production element of events.

Another tool that will prove handy in hybrid events is an emcee or host.

“Presenting to a camera, speaking to a camera, is a very different experience for a presenter than the face-to-face that we’re all used to,” McDonald said.

Broadcasters aren’t just trained to talk on-camera, either. They have the skillset to carry the event through and relieve the burden from presenters of transitioning between speakers, content and site location. They can handle time constraints and ad-lib on the fly to keep everything moving.

It allows the presenter to focus on their job and nothing more.

The two experiences will be incredibly similar, but again, we’re all about transparency at Centrifuge.

“To some degree we all need to be honest with ourselves and each other and understand that they can’t be identical,” McDonald said.

There’s pros and cons to both sides of the coin. Our job is to figure out how to get the most pros out of both.

If you’re feeling more confident now to start planning a hybrid event, give us a call. We’re ready to help!