As Covid-19 vaccines make a slow rollout throughout the United States, event planners are anticipating the continuation of virtual meetings in early 2021 while considering part online, part in-person hybrid events for the later part of the year.
Hybrid events are a great solution, but they must strike a careful balance so both virtual and in-person attendees feel included in the festivities. While this requires a bit more planning, adding the right incentives can help bridge the gap between the live and virtual versions of an event.
Here are a few considerations to keep top of mind when selecting gifts for a hybrid event.
Tie in the Theme
When choosing incentive items, stick with those related to the meeting theme. You can also tie the premiums to the location. For example, branded sunglasses could be a clever giveaway (or mail away) for a "future's so bright" event theme.
Make sure to share items that are distributed in-person with online participants as well, so the virtual attendees don't feel left out. Gifts for remote participants can either be sent pre-event to build excitement or post-event to keep the conference top of mind.
Curate a Selection
Before determining giveaway items, consider what your in-person and online attendees will actually use and appreciate. For instance, at a live event, custom-branded PPE and sanitizer can help encourage attendees to safely network with each other. For online attendees, a gift box that includes a branded mug and premium coffee or tea is a good way to get the conversation started in a virtual breakout session.
But it's best to give your attendees a choice. During event registration, allow participants to select which incentives they'd like to receive. This helps to conserve budget and ensures there are the right amount of premiums ordered for the live attendees and that you ship your virtual guests something they actually want.
Make it Worthwhile
Remember that attendees will quickly discard giveaways that seem pointless after an event wraps up, so choose practical and timely items. In addition to budget and theme, planners should also consider weight and ship times when selecting gifts for hybrid audiences.
Here are a few incentives that are always appreciated:
- Branded, theme-inclusive wearables are a classic giveaway that attendees at home and onsite can use. Make sure the materials are comfortable and consider what people wear while working from home: T-shirts, slippers and warm socks are all great options.
- To continue to keep everyone germ-free, antimicrobial items such as branded hand sanitizer and PPE kits including face masks remain a good choice.
- Eco friendly items, such as reusable water bottles, reusable straws, grocery bags and food containers are always popular and give guests something they can feel good about.
The right incentive can leave a lasting impression on your guests, whether it's picked up in-person or shipped right to their door. Don't miss this opportunity to make your hybrid event memorable for both live and virtual attendees.
Joanne Brooks is president of the Creative Impact Group, a full-service production company specializing in live, hybrid and virtual events. She has more than 30 years of experience working with companies to design team-building exercises, theme parties, special events, trade show booth activities and corporate meetings and conventions.