The 'New World' of Hybrid Events

In 1953, Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in an extravagant, meticulously planned ceremony at Westminster Abbey and everyone was invited. With 8000 people receiving an exclusive invite to attend in-person, the Queen went against Winston Churchill’s wishes, by also giving front-row seats to the world to watch the event on screen. 27 million people (3/4 of the UK’s population) tuned in to witness the Coronation live on the BBC - many purchasing or renting televisions especially for the event. Was this monumental event in history also the first ‘hybrid event’?

What is a ‘Hybrid Event’?

I’m sure you’ve heard the word thrown around in the past couple of months but let’s go back to the basics. A hybrid event is any event that allows participants (speakers or audience) to join in-person and digitally. For example, a local band performing with a small audience at a theatre also live-streams the show to their friends and family at home, watching online.

We are transitioning from a purely digital world of virtual pub quizzes, online meetings and Zoom ‘nights out’, to a world of hybrid events.  You only need to look at local schools, who are encompassing digital learning alongside classroom teaching, to prove how simple it can be. Or your local fitness class, who have a small number of people in attendance with others joining online, to see the variety of individuals and businesses who are incorporating a digital element to their live event. 

Are ‘Hybrid Events’ New?

While the word ‘hybrid’ may be new to most people (or simply reminds you of a car advert), the concept of hybrid events is not. Many sports fixtures, music festivals, royal weddings, memorial services, competitions, and talent shows have always had two audiences – those attending in-person and those behind a screen.

However, for many individuals and industries in 2020, hybrid events are new territory (previously we wouldn’t have dreamed of sending a video link invite to a wedding!). It is fascinating to watch the creative and innovative ways that are being developed - entirely original ideas of how both audiences are incorporated into the event. We’ve heard about wine being delivered to your door ready for watching your livestreamed wine tasting and even virtual reality headsets connecting digital attendees to an art exhibition.

Think of the 1953 Coronation as the Basic subscription to hybrid events – a simple livestream you can watch. 2020 hybrid events offer a Premium subscription – with the options for both audiences to interact, participate, respond and engage with content in an entirely new format now we are in the digital age.

Planning your own hybrid event?

We’ve put our thinking caps on, looking at hybrid events old and new, to put together some tips for planning your own hybrid event…

In-Person Event
  • Is the venue COVID-safe and will your hire abide by the latest government guidelines? Make sure you’ve read up on everything before inviting speakers or guests to attend in-person.
  • Tell your guests what to expect - will they be required to wear a mask, get their temperature checked or book tickets in a different way than previously?
  • Is the venue equipped for the digital element of the event? Consider whether the internet is good enough to stream content online and the video equipment or technical assistance you will need.
Digital Venue
  • Decide what you want to achieve by providing a digital element of your event. Do you want people to be able to watch-only, interact with in-person attendees or are the speakers appearing digitally?
  • Where is the digital element of your event going to happen? Hundreds of sites and tools have popped up since lockdown – do your research and make sure it achieves your aims. Take a look at Zoom, Facebook Live, IGTV, Skype, Crowd Cast and Event Brite as a starting point.
  • Ensure that guests know exactly how to tune in to the event. Will they receive a link? Do they need to pre-register? Is it vital they tune in live or will the event be recorded for later viewing? They need to be as prepared as those attending in-person.

If you are planning an upcoming hybrid event, we have an array of beautiful spaces here at CLC Venues & Events, which offer stunning backdrops for your event (for those attending in-person or digitally). Send us an email to find out more: venuesandevents@cheltladiescollege.org – we’d love to hear your plans and how we can help.