Top 5 Tips for Event Managers Planning a Hybrid Alumni Event
For many within the educational sector, it’s been a long time since they last hosted an in-person live event. The global pandemic meant that event organisers were kept on their toes finding the best way to provide a fantastic experience to audiences held in anticipation.
Virtual events became widespread and whilst they were able to provide a best-fit solution in a time of need, they don’t quite replace the experience of an in-person event.
However, as we’re into the tail end of the pandemic, hybrid and in-person events are slowing slipping back into becoming the norm! We’ve recently hosted a hugely successful Alumni event alongside Cornell University; the three day hybrid event was produced and filmed at Cornell’s Ithica campus and streamed directly onto our platform for attendees to view (you can read about that here!).
But of course, running an alumni event is no mean feat, so here’s our top 5 proven tips to ensure that your next event is remarkable:
1. Bridge the gap between in-person and virtual attendees
It’s important to understand that both sets of attendees experience your event differently. Removing the “online barrier” is a vital step to ensure that your virtual attendees feel as integrated as your live attendees.
You can do this by ensuring that you have a high level of audience engagement through tools such as live polls, Q&A’s, and live networking areas. Each of these aspects brings benefits to your attendees from participating and helps strip down the layers to an online event.
2. Consider your Time Zones
A phrase to make any project manager shudder: Time Zones. Online and hybrid events are fantastic for appealing to a global audience, however, this doesn’t come with certain drawbacks.
When planning an event you’re always best to target the majority of your audience and tailor fit the sessions around them. Your agenda will need to be adapted to ensure that your various locations are accounted for.
Organising networking opportunities that overlap between different time zones is a really great way to make sure that certain locations don’t feel isolated.
3. Event day tech support
Consider this; you’re eagerly anticipating an event, you’ve signed up to it, marked the date in your diary, and created your respective account. Yet when you go to sign in on the day: *Your password isn’t recognised*. We’ve all been there.
It’s an important part of event planning to ensure that your attendees are able to reach out and get support when it’s needed.
Event support can be broken down into Technical Support and Event Support. Issues like password resets or a drop out in audio would be covered by Technical Support, whilst queries such as “what session is taking place at 3pm” would be covered by Event Support.
It’s imperative that your lines of support communication are simple and easily accessible.
4. Event day communications
If your working team is anything like ours then you’ll have multiple pieces to the puzzle. It’s down to the Project Manager to ensure all of those components are brought together on the run up to the event to ensure everything runs smoothly. A large part of this is your event day communications and there’s two main factors to consider:
What messaging tool will you use?
Who needs to be included?
For your messaging tool I’d recommend something that is cross platform and easily accessible by all team members. In the past we’ve used WhatsApp and found this to be great as you can access it on your phone, laptop, or desktop.
You’ll need to consider what members of your team need to be included in this space. Generally it’s better to keep numbers lower to ensure that messages are kept as direct and concise as possible. This ensures that messages are getting to the right people and aren’t missed.
5. Post-event content
A huge advantage to running an event online is that you’re able to keep the platform (and therefore your content) open post-event.
Post-event access can be granted to attendees for any duration but generally this ranges from 2 to 6 weeks. You’ll be able to keep open the content that you had on-demand whilst also ensuring that the recordings of your events are available.
A great way to continue engagement from event day is to host small networking events in the few weeks subsequent to event day, this means that you’re giving your attendees a great reason to come back on to the platform to make the most of the fantastic content you provided.
Overall, there is a lot to consider when running a hybrid event, but following these 5 top tips should make everything run smoother.
Better yet, why not call in the experts?! With our fantastic online events platform, Forumm, we are able to tailor online events to your organisation's specific needs and bring your Alumni (or other education sector event) to life. Feel free to get in touch here to discuss how we can help!