In this article, we’ll discuss the need for hybrid event managers for your conference. Hiring a new hybrid conference manager is worth it for some, but others are better off training a staff member or relying on their hybrid platform’s support service.
Due to the pandemic, the events industry was put into a tailspin.
First, associations had to find virtual conference solutions because in-person events were out of the question. Because the world was on lockdown, event professionals had to find virtual conference software platforms that would host their events.
Now that limited in-person events are a possibility, associations are turning to hybrid conferences for their events. However, hybrid conferences present new challenges for event professionals.
Every day, we speak to associations going hybrid in 2021 who are faced with the decision to either hire an event manager, train an existing employee, or rely on their hybrid event platform’s support team to assist with their hybrid event.
It is in the best interest of some associations to hire another staff member to manage their hybrid conference. However, due to factors such as budget and the size of the event, some associations are better off training an existing employee, or simply relying on the hybrid platform vendor’s service offerings.
First, let’s take a look at what goes into running a hybrid conference.
Two things hybrid event managers must focus on
Since hybrid conferences have aspects of both a virtual conference and an in-person conference, A lot of work goes into hosting one. It’s the nature of the beast.
The in-person component
For the in-person component, participants are free to join sessions at the venue’s conference rooms.
Often, associations and other organizations already have staff members who are trained for handling the in-person components of conferences. However, when it comes to hybrid conferences there are some tasks that your go-to conference manager might not be familiar with.
For example, some hybrid conferences need to stream conference sessions live to a virtual audience. To enable this, someone needs to set up the camera and audio and have the right equipment to be able to stream it effectively to the virtual conference platform.
The virtual component
For the virtual component, associations and other organizations opt for a virtual or hybrid conference platform like OpenWater. In the platform, remote attendees view and join conference sessions and breakout rooms, chat with other attendees, view the presenter poster gallery, and much more.
Usually, organizations designate someone to keep tabs on the remote attendees and speakers in case they need help within the virtual platform. For example, if a speaker can’t figure out how to adjust their audio, an admin will jump in to toggle the speaker’s audio for them.
However, virtual conference platforms are sometimes complex. It depends on the platform, but it takes a lot of time and training for a staff member to reach a point where they are comfortable enough to help virtual attendees and presenters at a hybrid conference. That’s why some organizations opt out of training their staff, and instead hire someone new or rely on the platform’s service options.
Your team of hybrid event managers
Your hybrid conference team won’t be the same as your virtual conference team, and it won’t be the same as your in-person conference team. Instead, it’ll be a combination of the two.
You will need to either designate or hire event managers to tackle the in-person and virtual components of your hybrid conference.
The virtual team
On the virtual side, you’ll need an event manager who can act as tech support. Inevitably, there will be hiccups in the virtual production of your conference. So, to avoid frustration from conference attendees, speakers, and administrators, make sure you designate someone behind the scenes of the virtual platform to help out.
Note that the tech support person or a separate individual should be dedicated to the needs of the virtual attendees. “Most event professionals agree that the attendee experience… should be planned for,” says OpenWater Events Manager Teri Laliberte. “It is not enough to just offer [attendees] the video feeds and think that they will be satisfied.”
The in-person team
As I mentioned before, associations are used to having in-person meetings and conferences. So, it’s probably safe to say that most organizations already have someone to manage the in-person aspect of your hybrid conference. However, hybrid events add new responsibilities to the job, so let’s review.
The role of a moderator in your hybrid conference sessions is invaluable. Keeping an in-person audience engaged is difficult enough. And keeping a remote audience engaged is even harder! So, having an effective hybrid conference moderator that can bridge the gap between your remote and in-person audiences, as well as keeping engagement up is a MUST. It’s likely you’ve had moderators at previous conferences, so filling that role shouldn’t be too hard.
It’s also important to have an on-site technician at the venue of your hybrid conference. This role is important because the technical aspect of the in-person portion of your hybrid conference is a little more complicated than a fully in-person conference.
In-person, you’ll need equipment to stream the conference to your virtual audience, which requires a lot of hybrid conference equipment. A lot can go wrong with all that equipment, so I recommend having an on-site technician role filled for your hybrid conference.
A hybrid conference team of event managers that are designated to engage attendees is a valuable resource that should not be overlooked in the planning process.
If they have the budget, some associations hire their own hybrid event managers. But sometimes, associations opt to train their own staff. In this case, your staff will need training. Luckily, OpenWater has many resources for association event teams looking to go hybrid. Visit the hybrid conference training page to learn more.