The definition seems pretty straightforward: A hybrid event in Alaska is one that uses a combination of in-person and digital elements, tailored to each audience for optimal experiences. But the reality is a little more complex than that. A hybrid event is one central event with two different, yet connected experiences shared between in-person and virtual attendees.
Hybrid events aren’t new.
Have you ever watched an episode of Saturday Night Live or caught the Super Bowl? Believe it or not, your favorite annual TV traditions are likely a hybrid event and you’ve been watching as a hybrid attendee for years! The nail-biting game or hysterical skit are exciting and immersive for the in-person viewer, but the millions of people watching from home are sharing that experience and feeling a sense of community.
What do they look like in practice?
Hybrid events in Alaska can work in any industry and for any event. Here are three recent examples of Toast of the Town hybrid events:
- ANVCA Annual Business Conference – The association’s annual hybrid event that featured industry leaders over a two-day conference sought to engage the two audiences. The in-person event offered leaders the opportunity to connect with each other and visit exhibitor booths. At the same time, leaders participated in presentations and had two-way discussions with a virtual audience, all via a live web-based broadcast. During breaks, virtual attendees had the opportunity to e-visit virtual booths and connect on a virtual app with other attendees.
- State of Alaska’s Department of Law Conference – When the District Attorney’s office contacted us to transition a statewide, in-person, 2-day conference to a hybrid event, we immediately implemented a satellite location format that allowed 13 statewide offices to gather safely yet effectively present insights for their regions. Each location had the proper tech equipment to see each other online and verbally communicate or listen to keynote presentations from the main stage. Interactive polls and live Q&A helped the remote audiences feel as if they were in the room with the speakers and could participate just as effectively as an in-person attendee would.
- Covenant House Alaska Telethon – Toast of the Town supported Covenant House Alaska to engage sponsors and community by encouraging watch parties for their inaugural 2021 telethon. In-person attendees were wow’d by local Alaska talent, inspiring stories from Alaska leaders, raffles, and more. Virtual attendees watched the program while enjoying delicious catered lunches and hospitality boxes. Both in-person and virtual attendees had the ability to support the amazing work of Covenant House Alaska by calling in to make a donation.
What is the recipe for a successful hybrid event in Alaska?
Simply put: the best, easiest way to run your hybrid event is to treat your in-person and virtual components as individual but complementary experiences. In order to pull off a hybrid event, you will need the following:
(1) Event platform – Find a way to connect your two different audiences and create a shared experience.
(2) Polling/Questions – Whether your attendees are in-person and remote, you’ll want to find ways to keep them engaged on a level playing field.
(3) Event Producer – Hybrid events require an event plan for two audiences that is carefully executed with a TON of tech required. Let the professionals help guide you through the process.
(4) Create a solid marketing plan – Consider how sponsorship can be incorporated into your channels, why people should attend, what value your event offers, and what channels you are using to connect with your audience.
(5) Innovation – Explore a new way to share your content that is entertaining and exciting. There is a reason why we all love watching an Apple product launch or a TED Talk. These programs offer extremely interesting content but in an inspiring and immersive way. Consider changing the keynote format or create an agenda focused on a main stage to build something totally new and exciting!