Incentivizing In-Person Attendance at Hybrid Events

by Hunter Flynn

  • The shift to Hybrid Events is as exciting for your attendees as it is for you. But whenever you step into new territory, you’re bound to feel some uncertainty as well.

We’ve heard some concerns about the number of in-person attendees dwindling due to the permanent virtual component. Is this notion realistic or even relevant? That’s a topic for another day. For now, we’d like to assuage these concerns by sharing a few tips for incentivizing in-person attendance at Hybrid Events.

Location

This is a big one. Content is still king at Hybrid Events, but a desirable location can go a long way toward getting people to show up face-to-face.

Your members probably won’t be too thrilled about going to Buffalo in January. But a trip to Florida will get winter-weary northerners booking flights in no time.

Of course, climate isn’t everything. Florida might not be a convenient location, no matter how enticing the weather. Keep in mind the geographical location of your member base. Consider sending out a survey of potential locations to see if some pique more interest than others.

Safety

These days, it’s easy to feel as though COVID-19 is over. We hope it will be soon. But for the time being, safety will remain a concern for some of your attendees at Hybrid Events.

Most individuals with especially strong concerns about the safety of in-person attendance will opt to attend virtually. This flexibility is one of the great perks of the hybrid format.

But if you show that you’re working hard to ensure a safe in-person experience, you just might convince some hesitant individuals to show up face-to-face.

Need some pointers on safely conducting the in-person component of your Hybrid Event? Check out our guide.

Gift Bags

People will travel from near and far to make it to your event. Why not give them something tangible for their time?

Gift bags are a mainstay at place-based events. Although some organizations have seen success shipping them out to virtual audience members, they’re a whole lot easier to distribute in-person. And they can even help to draw in crowds.

Come up with gifts that people actually want:

  • Tastefully branded clothing
  • Headphones
  • Reusable water bottles
  • Gift cards
  • Branded face masks and hand sanitizer

Okay, gift bags probably won’t be the thing that gets people off the fence and attending your Hybrid Event in person. But some enticing goodies can help to seal the deal.

Food and Drink

Why do people attend in-person events? Beyond the educational opportunities and chance to hear some inspiring speakers, conference-goers want to meet people.

Plenty of person-to-person interaction takes place in event halls and during break-out sessions. But don’t discount the communication that tends to occur over food and drink. Not to mention that many people travel with their tastebuds as their guides.

Hot food and cold drinks don’t travel well. Emphasizing the gustatory delights in-person attendees can experience could draw them out in greater numbers.

Entertainment

The tastes of travel are just as important as the sights and sounds. Entertainment is one of the strongest tools you have to incentivize in-person attendance at your Hybrid Events.

The primary goals of your Hybrid Events should always be business and education. But it doesn’t always have to be so serious. People need entertaining, and the evenings provide the perfect opportunity to fit in some fun.

Here are some entertainment ideas that could boost the numbers of in-person attendees:

  • Sporting events
  • Comedians
  • Magic shows
  • Escape rooms
  • Live bands

No one knows your audience better than you do. Try to think up some entertainment ideas they won’t want to miss.

Exclusive Content

On the surface, offering sessions exclusively to in-person attendees seems like the perfect way to get them to show up in greater numbers. But it can be a slippery slope.

One of the most common concerns we hear about Hybrid Events is not dwindling in-person attendance, but FOMO among virtual attendees. Our hybrid technology and management strategies make the virtual experience feel just as special as the face-to-face one.

Offering educational content exclusively to in-person attendees could make your virtual audience feel left out.

What’s more important to you: in-person attendance or virtual audience engagement? Let your answer to this question guide you as you plan your Hybrid Event.

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