Creating a hybrid event plan in 2020 is an essential process—the way events are delivered now has changed dramatically, and companies need to adapt.
The world has moved largely online—as a result, the need for in-person events has plummeted.
But people still want a degree of face-to-face interaction, so we have seen a rise in companies and venues hosting hybrid events.
This growing event type combines in-person aspects of a conference with virtual elements like live streaming.
Hybrid events have become necessary because the vast majority of people who are no longer able to travel to conferences.
With flight restrictions out of the country, and even between states—bringing your event into people’s homes and catering to local audiences has never been so important.
Event companies and venues also need to ensure business continuity—and that is why hybrid events have become such an integral part of their strategy.
So, how do you set up a hybrid conference, discussion, or meeting? You need to start with a solid hybrid event plan.
Whatever the size of your event, for it to be a success, you need to identify your goals and communicate strategy with your event team.
We outline how to create a hybrid event plan that will help you deliver a successful conference.
- Project Manage Your Hybrid Event Plan
- Setting Goals for Your Hybrid Event Plan
- Use Mind Maps in Your Hybrid Event Plan
- Enlist Managers for Hybrid Event Planning
- Agile Hybrid Event Plans
- Build Communication into Hybrid Event Plans
- Include Tools in Your Hybrid Event Plans
Your first step for delivering a successful event is to look at it as a project that you have to manage.
With that in mind, you should create a hybrid event plan. Note that visual communication has become more important in an increasingly remote world.
You want to create one comprehensive document that event teams, venues, and suppliers can refer to during the planning process.
What does an event plan include? Here are the most important elements:
- Overview of your company
- Scope of the event
- Floor plans
- Seating structures
- Health and safety procedures
- Deadlines for deliverables
- Budgets for the event
- Non-monetary resources
- Required equipment
- Marketing campaigns
- Crisis communication plan
You can also add specifics such as which suppliers you will be outsourcing to for catering, lights, and A/V.
It is important to add a crisis communication section to your plan, like this example below.
A crisis plan is needed in case venues fall through, there are streaming issues, or another instance of force majeure arises.
Creating a plan is also crucial because event teams aren’t sharing spaces in offices—most are working from home.
Aligning everyone when they aren’t occupying the same space is a challenge. So work out your hybrid event plan before presenting it to the venue or clients.
If your event doesn’t have a goal, it’s unlikely to be successful—which is why you need to include your goals in your hybrid event plan.
There are numerous kinds of goals to aim for:
- Brand awareness
- Lead generation
- Product launches
- Bringing in revenue
Depending on your goal, you can structure your event and your plan.
Define event goals using the SMART goal-setting method:
- Be Specific - Your event goals should include specific metrics such as increasing revenue by 8%, 30 daily registrations, or selling 200 products.
- Be Measurable - Setting specific goals makes it easier for you to measure how successful the event has been, and which areas still require improvement.
- Be Attainable - If you aim too high, you may fail to achieve your goal, or stress your team out in the process of doing so. Be realistic with your expectations and you can build a successful event.
- Be Relevant - Another way to ensure your goals are attainable is to make sure that they are relevant to your audience, your clients, and your business.
- Be Time-based - If you don’t set yourself deadlines, you will end up prioritizing easier tasks and lose your focus on the big picture. Set timelines for your event so you can create attainable goals.
Here’s a visual reminder of SMART goals that you can include in your event plan.
Setting goals can take some time—but once you define them, it will help you create an event that delivers what you want.
Mind mapping is a great process for focusing your goals in your hybrid event plan. It’s a tool event teams can use to outline their aim for an event and their ideation process.
While mind maps can be used among internal teams to create event plans, it can’t hurt to involve external stakeholders such as suppliers and sponsors.
You can use a mind map to define the process of your event—which steps follow each other organically and what tasks need to be prioritized.
This is also a good tool to define the framework for your hybrid event. We know that events begin with an introduction and end with a conclusion, but what should those cover?
Your introductions should include a ‘thank you’ to sponsors, short bios of speakers, housekeeping notes about turning off phones, and keeping mics on mute.
Conclusions should have a shoutout to sponsors, the guests who attended, the staff who worked behind the scenes, and maybe a wrap up on the discussion.
A mind map helps flesh out those sections, but even more so when planning the outline for the main body of the presentation.
Your event will have a time limit and to ensure your speakers can stay within that time, you can use a mind map to cement their ideas, or decide which ones should be left out.
For a mind map to work well, start with one primary idea, and then break it down into a few key points that need expanding.
Visualize your idea using a concept map maker, like this business strategy example below.
It isn’t possible to do everything in-house—the sooner event organizations realize this, the better equipped they will be to deliver a successful conference.
Sometimes, it is better to bite the bullet and hire an event manager with experience.
An event manager brings their expertise in the field to your event. They also have leadership skills and are comfortable overseeing working operations.
They can manage suppliers, keep deadlines in mind, and facilitate communication between various parties.
But an external event manager may not be aware of all the other workings of your company.
They may make demands that your team can’t get to so be prepared to manage their expectations.
Companies can work with the manager to assemble a team with the expertise to create a memorable event.
You can find these team members from within your ranks. People have a multitude of skills—send out an internal memo with role descriptions and requirements.
Those who have the requisite skills will step forward—but managers should remember that working an event is an added responsibility.
It is unreasonable to ask employees to continue to work their usual job on top of working for the event. Be cognizant of that before asking people to take on new obligations.
Agile project management has become a mainstay over the past few years—it’s an approach that works well in the event world.
According to the agile approach, companies create a collaborative team environment and implement appropriate software to improve working habits.
In other words, agile management proposes the following methods:
- Build a motivational working environment for event teams
- Create a collaborative working environment
- Facilitate regular and clear communication
- Allow team members to ideate and conceptualize on their own
- Prioritize consumer satisfaction
- Invest in the right tools to achieve results
- Make teams adaptable to changes
- Create systems to measure successes and failures
This is a great approach for delivering consistently good events and for building event teams that can sustain success over long periods.
Using the guidelines set out by the agile approach, you can build systems for various kinds of events, while leaving room for growth and learning.
The great thing about agile management systems is that it accounts for changes in metrics, supplies, and company models.
It does this by creating autonomous environments for event teams to learn and be more creative by experimenting and growing.
No matter the size of an event, there are so many parts and people involved, that communication can fall by the wayside.
That is why a hybrid event plan must prioritize how, why, and when communications need to be managed, like in the example below.
You need to include a section on how communication flows and how to get feedback from team members and stakeholders.
Communication between event teams, managers, and stakeholders must go both ways. If managers don’t listen to their teams, they won’t know what roadblocks they are facing.
Schedule regular meetings with your teams and managers to share updates. It is best to plan an agenda before the meeting begins so it doesn’t meander.
Also, try not to hold too many work meetings—they can disrupt people’s working schedule and be demotivating.
Define the tools you will be using in your hybrid event plan. You could be using a variety of software to keep event and marketing teams aligned, such as the following:
- Ad planning software
- Budget management tools
- Catering management tools
- Team chat tools
- Event management software
- Google docs and sheets
- Live streaming software
- Project collaboration software
- Revenue management tools
- SEO tools
- Social analytics tools
- Ticketing software
- Web heatmap tools
Those are a lot of tools but many of them are essential for delivering a great hybrid event.
Your plan should also outline any training that will be required—as well as how much time and resources will be needed to complete the training.
Tools help ensure that teams don’t miss deadlines, that there isn’t miscommunication between employees, and that audiences experience a great event.
Conclusion: A Hybrid Event Plan Keeps Teams Aligned and Focused
These seven steps will help you deliver an event that will boost revenue and brand awareness, no matter the size of your team or the event.
Let’s recap the key points made above:
- Project manage your event plan
- Set your event goals
- Use a mind map to conceptualize your event
- Hire an event manager
- Use the agile approach to event management
- Communicate regularly and openly
- Invest in event tools and software
Now you have the means to create an event that your consumers will enjoy and which will help you reach your goals.
Ronita Mohan is a content marketer at Venngage, the online infographic maker and design platform. Ronita regularly writes about marketing, events, sales, and small businesses.