One part virtual and one part in-person, hybrid events combine the tech benefits of an online meeting or conference with the classic advantages of a physical, in-person event.
For event organizers, hybrid events can help deliver larger audience numbers, more attendee engagement opportunities, and an all-round epic event experience.
But to really understand what qualifies as a hybrid event, it can also be helpful to know what hybrid events are not.
Hybrid events are not simply:
Whatever type of event you’re planning, if you want a higher attendance rate, greater audience engagement, and better ROI — hybrid is a stellar choice.
But with both virtual and in-person elements to juggle, you’re going to need a robust hybrid event platform to make sure your event is a win with attendees.
A hybrid event platform allows you to provide an ultra-compelling in-person experience, while also replicating that experience virtually so that your remote attendees don’t miss out on the action.
The right hybrid event platform will bring both your in-person and virtual audiences together so that all attendees are free to interact just as they would if they were sitting together side-by-side.
While there are many hybrid event platforms to choose from, it’s important to understand that your attendees have entered a new generation of event marketing.
And, you’re going to need a hybrid platform that’s truly up to task.
Let’s pin down the exact features to look for so you can choose the best hybrid event platform for your needs.
We went scouting to see what platforms were out there and, to my amazement, there were so many. I had never heard of Goldcast, but when I jumped on the website I knew we were onto something good.
Business Development, Events and Startups at Waylay
Let’s start with the basics.
The following functionalities are the core features you should expect to see in every hybrid event platform.
🔹A virtual lobby: First impressions count. Customizable lobbies let you brand to the nines, simplify navigation, and instantly impress your attendees.
🔹Rooms: Replicate the breakout room feel, make it easy for attendees to pop in and out, and collect important data on how attendees engage.
🔹High-quality live streaming: Nailing live streams isn’t a given, but it should be. Beware of glitchy streams and buffering.
🔹Concurrent sessions: Delivering different topics on different tracks, at the same time is what hybrid is all about. If you're giving in-person attendees a choice, your virtual audience will expect that too.
🔹Pricing: Unless you’re Beyoncé, events have a budget. Look for annualized vs. per event pricing that doesn’t penalize you for virtual no-shows.
Goldcast’s integration with Marketo means the attendee-level data just flows at the click of a button. That's huge for us.
Director of Event Experience, Alyce
Now that you’re clear on the baseline features every hybrid event platform should include, let’s take a look at some of the more advanced functions that can help you level up your options and narrow down your list.
🔹Embedded apps: Whether it’s installing Drift chatbots, creating buzz with Webooth, sharing user-generated content with Snapbar, or gamifying your event with Drimify, look for a hybrid event platform that has embedded apps to help you instantly elevate the event experience.
🔹Video production capabilities: Using videos during your event takes the pressure off live speakers and helps diversify your content. But they take time (and budget) to create. Look for a solution with built-in video capabilities to help lighten the load.
🔹Booths: Connecting in-person sponsors with virtual attendees, facilitating 1:1 sales meetings, or running dedicated product demos — the best hybrid event booths replicate an organic in-person experience.
🔹Direct third-party integrations: To ensure targeted follow-ups and maximum pipeline impact, look for a platform that feeds directly into the rest of your marketing stack (e.g., HubSpot, Marketo, Eloqua, Salesforce, etc.).
If you’ve got both your baseline and nice-to-have features covered, you’re well on your way to a successful hybrid event.
But why stop there?
The following features will help take your hybrid event a step further by offering an experience the likes of which your attendees have never seen.
Attendee engagement is tough to nail in a hybrid setting. Look for a platform that seamlessly showcases your content, while offering engagement functionalities that emulate (or even rival) the in-person experience, including:
🔹 Polls & real-time voting
🔹 Video Q&A sessions
🔹 One-click video invites
🔹 Private group video chats
🔹 One-on-one chats
🔹 And more!
Our main success with Goldcast is the increased audience engagement: 128 questions asked/answered, 151 comments in public chat, 5.7/10 average engagement rate.
Director of Community & Events, Falcon.io
Your hybrid event should feel 100% like your event — both for your virtual and in-person attendees. Look for a totally bespoke, white-label solution that gives you:
🔹 Access to colors, gradients, and images unique to your company.
🔹 Brand-specific landing pages and registration funnels.
🔹 Automated branded reminder emails.
One of the first things we did was to white-label and properly brand the platform to look like a Smartling event. It didn't have a Goldcast logo, so it looked like we, Smartling, powered the event.
Head of Marketing, Smartling
Tracking event data manually can be a major headache. Look for a hybrid event platform that does it for you, with visual dashboards to help make life easy. Your hybrid event platform should be able to capture important attendee-level data such as:
🔹 Time spent in breakout rooms
🔹 Sessions selected
🔹 Content downloaded
🔹 Polls answered (and how they answered)
🔹 Questions asked (and what they were)
Hybrid is new for everyone, so don’t underestimate the support you’re going to need. The following questions will help you find a partner, not just a platform.
🔹 Does the provider listen, digest, and act on your feedback?
🔹 Will they be there beyond the first event?
🔹 Are they willing to go the extra mile with requests?
🔹 Can they help personalize your attendee journey?
🔹 What do their customers have to say?
If an attendee had any technical difficulties, we knew it would be taken care of in the next five-to-ten minutes which was amazing. I don't think you can get that level of support with Zoom, GoToWebinar and other virtual platforms.
Senior Marketing Manager, Axonius
Many hybrid event platforms help you cover the virtual component, and only add to the in-person experience here and there.
But if you want to really slay the game with hybrid, you’re going to need the best.
That’s where Goldcast comes in.
As the event industry's first true hybrid solution, Goldcast uses Hybrid TV screens to showcase virtual and in-person content.
Multiple location features let you connect as many hybrid streams as needed. And in-person partnerships help make check-in, lead-capture and data-grabs completely seamless.
Plus, Goldcast offers a mobile-friendly experience, so virtual and in-person attendees can engage in events together in real time. How cool is that?
It’s a whole new era for events. When you’re ready to offer the best hybrid event experience out there, Goldcast can help.
Getting started with hybrid can feel pretty overwhelming in the beginning. But with the right platform, you’ll have an attendee-first formula you can scale on.
Because in today’s world of event marketing, attendees have more options (and potentially more overwhelm) than ever before. Make it easy for them to choose your event by delivering a hybrid experience that is just as awesome for your virtual attendees and it is for the folks who attend in-person.
The right event platform will help you host a hybrid event that delivers the best of both to everyone.