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Creating Virtual and Hybrid Events That Work in 2021

Matthew Klingbeil

2020 pushed teams to get creative in building events and reaching their audiences. From figuring out how to move in-person events into the virtual world to now thinking about how to make virtual events better and hybrid, event teams have been through it all this year. Even with exciting and groundbreaking news of a vaccine, there are still many months ahead of social distancing, mask-wearing, and virtual events. 

In this blog, let’s talk about how you can innovate and improve how you engage with your audience with virtual and hybrid events in 2021 🚀

1. What does your audience want?

Today, VisitDays is helping facilitate over 18,000 virtual events, including for some of the largest organizations and institutions across education. The best virtual events are those that truly understand what an attendee wants. These events make sure that if the attendee is on their couch that they have such an unbelievable experience that they can’t even remember an in-person event.

Recently, University of Pittsburgh ran their Admitted Students Event through the VisitDays Conventions platform. They provided attendees the opportunity to attend live sessions and have 1:1 interactions with nearly every area of their campus community. Pitt provided engaging and timely on-demand content, which allowed attendees to continue interacting with the university long after the event ended. 

Thinking of how to provide interesting live and on-demand content to attendees is the way to ensure your virtual events are highly attended and that people want to continue their experience after the event ends with your institution. 

Here’s how Pitt did it 👇


2. Mobile is crucial

While knowing what your audience wants is important, it’s also key to know how they want something. Our research has shown that nearly 70% of those who have attended virtual events through VisitDays have done so on their mobile devices. This points to the growing importance of ensuring virtual events are mobile optimized. 

Audiences from Gen Z to Gen X and beyond are used to bite-sized content that can fit in the palm of their hand. By creating live sessions and on-demand content that translates to a mobile device, you’ll be able to create something that connects with your attendees. On-demand content that mimics the binge-worthiness of a TikTok video or the easy streaming experience of a YouTube video allows for you to create truly memorable experiences.

Importantly, mobile optimized events provide attendees the ability to join from wherever they are on the device most convenient for them, increasing the likelihood of attending and staying around longer during a virtual event. Think about virtual events that can transfer onto a smaller device and that can be carried from place to place.

3. Hybrid is the future and the future is now

Virtual events have been the normal over the last 9-months. While they will continue to be part of your event arsenal, it’s time to think about hybrid events and incorporating them now. 

Hybrid events allow for attendees to have a more interactive experience in the virtual setting. This also allows you to simultaneously run in-person and virtual events. In other words, if your local city allows for in-person events you can offer a great live experience and also invite people from around the nation and world to be part of the synchronous event.

Virtual events have shown the power of broadening your reach per event. Now, with hybrid events you can run your best in-person experiences and also have the virtual component to continue reaching more people. 

Provide the opportunity for an attendee to tour a facility or jump into a live experience from their living room. Interactive roundtables, conference presentations, fairs, and more provide unique hybrid opportunities for attendees that make your institution stand-out.

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