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The Complete Checklist to Hybrid Events

The Complete Checklist to Hybrid Events

While before the global pandemic, virtual events and hybrid events have steadily increased in adoption and popularity, there’s no doubt that the pandemic throughout 2020 and 2021 has significantly changed the event industry landscape.

During the pandemic, many event organizers and organizations have adopted virtual and hybrid event formats as substitutes for delayed or canceled in-person events. However, now in 2022, even attendees now expect to have the option to attend any event virtually.

Meaning, the hybrid event format is here to stay, and in fact, we should expect the majority of events to be converted into hybrid ones.

Yet, while there’s no question about the benefits of hybrid events, providing the best of both worlds, planning and hosting a hybrid event can also be challenging if you don’t know what you are doing.

This guide will provide you with a complete checklist on how to plan and run a successful hybrid event, and this checklist will include the following:

  • Overview of the hybrid event format
  • Identifying your event’s purpose and defining objectives
  • Securing an ideal venue capable of accommodating a hybrid event
  • Choosing an ideal date and time for both in-person and virtual attendees
  • Developing an event master plan
  • Estimating a budget for a hybrid event
  • Developing an event brand
  • Creating a comprehensive marketing plan
  • Securing sponsorships
  • Securing event speakers and/or talents
  • Launching registration (ticket sales)
  • Dealing with suppliers and vendors
  • Preparation of the venue and setup
  • Execution of the event

Post-event evaluation and reporting

Without further ado, let us begin this guide from the basics.

Hybrid Event: How it Works

The term “hybrid” refers to something that is created by combining two different things.

In the case of a hybrid event, it is a combination of two different types of events: in-person events delivered to face-to-face audiences, and virtual events, delivered to remote audiences over the internet.

The most basic form of a hybrid event is to live broadcast an event held in a physical venue (with traditional in-person attendees) to remote attendees over the internet.

However, a proper hybrid event should go beyond simply live-streaming an in-person event’s content to virtual audiences but should deliver the same (at least closely similar) levels of experiences for both attendees. 

Why Host a Hybrid Event?

A hybrid event essentially provides the best of both worlds: giving you the benefits of both the in-person and virtual event formats without the disadvantages.

Hosting a hybrid event will offer the following advantages for both the event planner and attendees:

  1. Attracting more attendees

By hosting a hybrid event, you can attract both attendees who are willing to attend your event in-person, as well as those who can only attend your event virtually.

This allows you to break geographical limitations, so you can promote your event to attendees in different cities and even countries and convince them to attend your event online.

To summarize, by planning and hosting a hybrid event rather than a solely virtual or in-person event, you can attract more attendees, amplify your event’s reach, and ultimately, generate more revenue.

  1. More control over the event’s cost

Hosting a virtual event is typically more affordable than an in-person of a comparable size/complexity, mainly due to the fact that you can eliminate the substantial costs of venue rental and related spending (i.e., catering.)

In a hybrid format, you have more versatility to adjust your expenses as needed depending on your available budget and other factors.

For example, if your budget is limited, you can make the in-person aspect of the event smaller and invite more online attendees. This allows you to rent a smaller/more affordable venue to lower your costs.

With greater control over your expenses, you can have an easier time in maximizing the hybrid event’s ROI.

  1. Improved attendee engagements

There are many factors that may contribute to the lower overall engagements of the virtual event format: lack of face-to-face interactions, more distractions for attendees attending the event from their homes, and so on.

By turning a virtual event into a hybrid event, you can enhance engagement for not only your virtual attendees but also your in-person attendees since you are providing more interaction options and versatility. 

For instance, you can facilitate real-time interactions between both types of attendees by running live polls and Q&A sessions, as well as live conversations between both types of attendees during networking or breakout sessions.

  1. More flexibility for your talents

By offering more versatility, it’s likely you can secure better speakers, presenters, exhibitors, and other talents.

For example, you can allow speakers located halfway across the world to participate in the event virtually. Or, if an exhibitor is unable to participate in your physical exhibition, you can allow them to set up their virtual booth on your virtual event platform. 

  1. More value to sponsors

Since a hybrid event can potentially attract more attendees, you can also provide more exposure for sponsors’ brands in a hybrid event format.

Also, in a hybrid event format, exposure can be more sustainable and long-lasting. It’s common practice to record the virtual content of the event and make it available on-demand after the event is finished. 

You can also offer cross-media sponsorship packages to convince potential sponsors, for example proposing the ability to showcase the sponsor’s brand on both in-person and digital signages.

Another important consideration is the fact that it’s easier to collect and present data from a hybrid event due to the wide availability of digital analytics and reporting tools. This will translate into an easier time proving your event’s value in front of prospective sponsors.

Checklist to Planning a Hybrid Event

Planning a hybrid event can be a very complex process with many different moving parts.

With that being said, to make using this checklist easier, we will structure this checklist into several key phases:

  1. Phase 1: Creating an event master plan (for a large-scale hybrid event, this phase should start at least 6 months prior to the D-day)
  2. Phase 2: Laying out the foundations (around 3-4 months prior to the event)
  3. Phase 3: Filling the details (around 1-2 months prior to the event)
  4. Phase 4: Final touches (a week before the event)
  5. Phase 5: D-1 and D-Day
  6. Phase 6: Post-event evaluation

Obviously, this framework might not fit all types of events, and you can adjust the phases as you see fit according to your event’s size, complexity, and unique agenda.

Phase 1: Creating an event Master plan

In planning any event, the earlier you can start this first phase, the better. Starting early means you’ll have more options, especially regarding venue choices, but also other vendor options.

As a general rule of thumb, if it’s a large hybrid event (with more than 500 in-person attendees), spare at least 4 months of preparation and ideally 6 months in advance. Even if it’s a relatively simple hybrid event, try to have 1 month in advance of preparation at the very least.

For this first phase, you can follow this checklist:

    • Define your event’s purpose 
      • Why host this event in the first place?
      • What are you looking to accomplish? (i.e. supporting a product launch, building awareness.)
      • What unique value(s) can you provide your audience with the event? (Unique Value Proposition/UVP)
      • What value can this event provide for its sponsors?
    • Define event  goals/objectives
    • Define KPIs and key metrics to measure to monitor the event’s performance against its objectives
    • Identify ways/tools to measure the chosen metrics and KPIs
    • Identify the most ideal audience to help you achieve your event objectives
    • Develop a buyer persona and list:
      • Demographic data
      • Geographic location
      • Industry sector 
      • Job role
      • Online activities and content consumption
      • Pain points
      • Technology they use
      • Accessibility needs
    • How many target attendees
      • Target in-person attendees
      • Target virtual attendees
    • Create a shortlist of potential venues ideal for accommodating a hybrid event
    • Research and survey potential venues.
    • Size
    • Parking availability
    • Public transportation availability
    • Existing facilities
    • Catering. Are you required to use the venue’s catering service? Is there any minimum spending?
      •  For a hybrid event, there are extra factors to be considered when choosing a venue:
        • Internet connectivity. Also, ask whether you are allowed to bring additional internet connectivity for redundancy
        • A/V equipment
        • Power and power outlets
        • Enough space for storing the extra equipment 
    • Negotiate with potential venues
    • Evaluate and sign written contracts after locking in a venue
    • Overview information of the event
      • Type
      • Date/time
      • Venue
      • Requirements
    • Target audience
    • Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
    • Marketing plan and timeline
    • Event agenda/schedule
    • Event revenue model
    • Event safety plan
    • Team roles and responsibilities
    • Securing a virtual event platform. Carefully evaluate your hybrid event’s unique needs before committing to a venue
    • Registration/ticketing solution. Some virtual event platforms offer a built-in registration function
    • Event management/project management solution
    • Mobile app
    • Attendee engagement tools (i.e., Q&A, live polls tools, eetc.)
    • Live streaming/video conferencing platform
    • Venue expenses
      • Rental
      • Decoration
      • Insurance
    • Technology solutions
      • Virtual event platform
      • Mobile app
      • Productivity tools
      • ___________
      • ___________
    • Equipment and furniture rental
    • Speaker/talent compensation
      • Travel and accommodation costs
    • Staff and volunteer compensation
      • Travel and accommodations for staff
    • ______
    • ______
    • (continue as needed)
    • Assigning an event manager
    • Establishing committees
    • Assigning roles and responsibilities
      • Marketing coordinator
      • Registration
      • Sponsorship
    • Event manager 
    • Virtual event platform
    • Establishing KPIs to monitor performance
    • Event name
    • Event logo
    • Event tagline
    • Event hashtags
    • Event website
    • Event social profiles
    • ___________
    • ___________ (add other branding elements as you see fit)
    • Event marketing timeline
    • Create an event website/page
    • Build social media presence
    • Outreach to relevant influencers
    • Create and publish a press release
      • Choosing the right media to send the press release
      • Develop a press release. Keep it short and attractive, but informative. Not more than 300 words long.
      • Send the press release to relevant media and influencers
    • Email newsletter
    • _____ (other marketing channels as you see fit)
    • Create a shortlist of potential sponsors and partners
    • Create personalized event proposals
    • Outreaching to potential sponsors 
      • Finalize sponsorship packages and amounts
    • Create contracts and have them signed
    • Identify potential partners
    • Outreach partners
    • Establish written contracts for each partnership
    • Set-up online registration
    • Determine ticketing strategy. (If you are going to offer separate tiers and/or time-based discounts, identify them upfront)
    • Release early bird tickets. Make sure you have a reliable and optimal online registration in place so the registration process is as easy as possible and available 24/7.

Phase 2: Laying out the foundations

We consider the second phase of the event planning process started after you’ve launched registration (ticket sales.) 

In this second phase, the focus is to lay the foundation of your event agenda and all the necessary details to ensure the event’s success.

    • Develop engaging and high-quality content according to your event’s type and your target audience’s preferences
    • Train your speakers (talents) and presenters to present this content properly
    • Plan breakout sessions, Q&A, networking sessions, and brainstorming sessions for both types of attendees
    • Use gamification (live polls, Q&A, interactive games, etc.) to 
    • Negotiate with speakers, presenters, entertainers, and other talents 
    • Lock in speakers, presenters, entertainers, and other talents 
      • Create and sign written contracts
    • Get bio information, photos, video materials, etc.
    • Travel and accommodation arrangements
    • Ask the talents to start promoting the event and sharing the event on their social profiles, blogs, or websites 
    • Identify required documents for all team members and external stakeholders
    • Identify items to be underwritten
    • Create a separate checklist to keep track of the event’s paperwork
    • Catering details (i.e. menu, cutleries)
    • Parking arrangements
    • Signage placements
    • A/V equipment  
      • Test every piece of equipment
    • Security arrangements for the event
    • Figure out whether you’ll need to pay for any special permits, insurances, licenses, etc.
    • Accessibility requirements (i.e. wheelchair accessibility)
      • Virtual attendees’ accessibility concerns:
        • Multi-language live stream options
        • Subtitle
        • On-screen interpreter
        • Dark modes/magnification accessibility tools
        • Adjustable font sizes
      • In-person attendees accessibility concerns:
        • Accessible parking options and public transportation availability
        • Priority seating
        • Accessibility for wheelchairs
        • Assisted listening and/or interpreter
        • Ramp access
    • Establish an event script. (i.e. opening, introducing speakers, thank yous, closing)
      • Event script for the in-person aspect
      • Event script for the hybrid aspect
    • Finalize schedule with speakers and external stakeholders
    • Develop marketing materials. (blog posts, ad copy, radio spot scripts, videos, etc.)
      • Develop marketing collaterals. (invitations, posters, tickets, etc.)
      • Develop media kit materials. (speaker bio information, photos, etc.)
    • Request logos from sponsors to include in marketing materials
    • Create email notifications for event
    • Register your event on a variety of event publication platforms and online event calendars
    • Generate buzz on social media and forums
    • Order/design event swag bag

Phase 3: Filling the details 

If you begin the event planning process 6 months prior to the event, then the third phase should be started around 1-2 months prior to the D-Day.

The focus of this phase is to finalize the crucial details of the event while also performing ongoing marketing/promotion to attract more attendees.

    • Send newsletters to past event attendees
    • Encourage registration 
    • Invest in more ads and publication spots
    • Announce keynote speakers, headlining talents, VIPs, attending, celebrities, etc.
    • Post more details about your event on social media posts and profiles
    • Post your news release on your website. Share this with sponsors, partners, talents, and other parties so they can help promote your event.
    • Proofread and finalize all printed materials.  
    • Confirming travel/accommodation details
    • Request the finalized copy of presentations/speeches/performance scripts
    • Remind to promote your event on their social media profiles, blogs, and/or websites
    • Review underwriting. Make sure contracts are signed and legalized
    • Get finalized content and materials from sponsors (to include in the event)
    • Remind sponsors to help promote your event on their channels
    • Test every technology solution
    • Test internet connection
    • Plan for redundancies
    • Close early-bird registration.
    • Launch standard ticket pricing. You can also follow up with another time-based registration discount as you see fit. 

Phase 4: Final touches

It’s one week prior to the D-day, and by now you should’ve finalized most if not all the important details of your hybrid event. 

The focus of this fourth phase is, again, to finalize more details and add final touches.

    • Finalize event script
    • Plan practice sessions for everyone with speaking duties during the event
    • Confirm media needs and logistics arrangements
    • Plan photo-op and interview opportunities with talents, speakers, and VIPs
    • Assign finalized D-Day roles and responsibilities 
    • Brief everyone about their duties, timelines, and KPIs
    • Re-check and test technology solutions
    • Finalize your seating plan
    • Ensure clear paths and optimal traffic flow through the venue
    • Ensure wheelchair-accessible areas
    • Provide the final attendance number to the caterer
    • Buffet arrangement
    • Finalize catering logistics details
    • Gather team members in a plenary meeting to finalize details against the event’s master plan
    • Develop plan Bs and plan Cs for worst-case scenarios

Phase 5: D-1 and D-Day

You are one day away from the event, and this phase is about final checking the details.

    • Re-check all elements of venue decoration
    • Finalize signage placements
    • Re-check registration tables
    • Re-check technology solutions, make sure they are working properly
    • Re-check A/V equipment
    • Re-check live streaming equipment and platform
    • Re-confirm media attendance
      • Ensure media tables are prepared
        • Ensure necessary items are placed. (name badges, pens, paper, etc. )
    • Ensure all marketing collaterals are on-site
    • Ensure gifts, swag bags, trophies, plaques, etc. are on the venue
    • Make sure instructions are correctly distributed:
      • Directions (venue map)
      • List of contact information
      • Keys placements for staff and volunteers
      • Seating charts
      • Guest lists
      • Parking permits
      • ___________ (fill in as you see fit)
    • Check-in with your team. Make sure all departments and committees are on track.
    • Check-in with sponsors
    • Check-in with speakers/talents
    • Assist sponsors, speakers/presenters/talents with their needs

Phase 6: Post-event evaluation

You’ve finished hosting your event. Congratulations! And hopefully, it’s a successful one.

However, your job is not yet done, and there’s one final phase to be done: post-event evaluation.

    • Make sure nothing is left behind
      • Set up a debrief meeting with the venue to confirm this
    • Gather lost and found (if any)
    • Confirm the final catering bill tallies 
    • Gather all receipts and documentation for:
      • Final number of attendees
      • Sales numbers (if selling any product)
    • Update the event budget with income details
    • Send official acknowledgment and thank-yous
      • Volunteers
      • Donors (if it’s a hybrid fundraising event)
      • Press and media
      • Sponsors
      • Speakers/presenters/talents
    • Send a thank-you email to attendees
      • Promote future events (if any)
      • Send a post-event survey. Solutions like Eventifier can help you easily generate post-event surveys to learn what attendees/sponsors/talents think about your event. Use these valuable insights to improve future events. 
    • Update the event page or website accordingly so visitors will know that the event has finished
    • Develop and publish a post-event press release
    • Develop a highlight video to share on social platforms and the event page
      • Share highlights on the event page
      • Share highlights on social media
    • Send out an email to your subscribers with highlight reels from the event
    • Send post-event surveys to your team
    • Interview team members. Learn what relevant team members think about the event, and identify areas where you can improve
    • List elements of the event you deemed successful
    • List disappointing areas that can be improved in the future
    • Evaluate budget usage
      • List items that exceeded the projected budget
      • List savings
      • Evaluate the reasons for items exceeding the projected budget
    • Evaluate the event’s performance against KPIs

Wrapping Up

Above, we’ve shared a comprehensive event planning checklist to help you plan and host a successful hybrid event, divided into six different phases. By using this checklist, we hope you can tackle the challenges in planning your next hybrid event, and maximize the event’s ROI.

While the hybrid event format can offer various benefits from both virtual and in-person events while avoiding the disadvantages of both formats, it’s still important to plan the hybrid event correctly to avoid all sorts of challenges, especially logistics that you are going to face sooner or later.

By following the step-by-step guide we’ve shared above, as well as the actionable tips we’ve  learned to tackle those challenges, we hope you are now ready to plan your next hybrid event right away.

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