The benefits of hybrid business functions and social gatherings and how to plan them 

Many parties and events went virtual in 2020 and in-person events aren’t currently the norm. For many, health and safety concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic are at the forefront. That’s why during event planning, prioritizing guest safety is key. 

As the pandemic recedes, however, virtual events aren’t the only option, and combined experiences, in the form of a hybrid event, can offer the best of both worlds. We’ll walk through planning a hybrid event, with a focus on guest safety, programming, catering, and how virtual guests can still have an immersive experience. 

Key takeaways:

  • A hybrid event includes a virtual and in-person component.
  • These events give guests the option to choose what’s most comfortable for them.
  • Just because guests can’t physically attend your gathering doesn’t mean they’ll have to miss out on social interaction. 
  • Following COVID-19 safety guidelines for social distancing and catering is very important.

The benefits of hybrid gatherings 

Hybrid events have several benefits for guests – since they accommodate both those who are and aren’t comfortable attending in-person gatherings. Here are three. 

  • One plan works for everyone 

Hybrid events are multicomponent, which means you have the advantage of planning an agenda that can be seen in-person and streamed online. This allows you to reach a large audience seamlessly. There is no need for double-duty planning as anything that is done in person can be recorded for an online audience and shared at the same time or after the live event. 

  • Everyone can interact

During hybrid events, you can also make the most of the experience for online guests by offering ”breakout group” sessions. While in-person attendees are chatting or networking, guests online can too. Invite virtual guests to join smaller, private meeting rooms to discuss topics, answer questions, or just catch up with one another. That type of small group dynamic promotes meaningful interaction virtually in an immersive way. Even though virtual attendees won’t be hanging out by the catering table talking casually, they’ll have the same opportunity to interact.  

  • Staying within budget is easy

With a hybrid event, you will probably host fewer live guests, so your budget for things like the venue and catering doesn’t have to be as large. Planning a great event with plenty of room for social distancing and delicious, catered food, won’t take you over budget. If it’s a business function, try these tips for budget-friendly business catering. 

Ways to make your hybrid event a success

Here are some tips for making a hybrid event planning process simple, easy, and safe.

  • Ask guests that are coming to your event to practice social distancing. Make it easy for them by marking spots on the floor that are six feet apart and spacing out chairs so that there is plenty of space. Also, pick a space with good ventilation, which reduces viral particle exposure
  • Test out your virtual platform and software beforehand. Send out Zoom links, or whichever platform you’re using, before the event starts so there is no last-minute scrambling to get virtual attendees connected to the in-person program.
  • Ask attendees for their diet-related concerns, like food allergies or observances. Then, you can plan the right menu with your catering team. A great caterer will have lots of catering options for any type of diet. 
  • Put guest safety policies in place. For the in-person aspect of your event, it’s smart to set a guest limit. Ask those invitees who want to physically attend to RSVP. Remind them to make a decision that is most sensible for themselves and tell them that they won’t be penalized if they cannot attend in person. You may want to require those attending in person to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. Don’t worry if it’s a small group. Small gatherings can be more fun than large, overwhelming ones!
  • Since your hybrid event will include some in-person guests, make sure to work with a full-service catering team that is practicing the most up-to-date safety guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Your catering staff should wear facial coverings and practice social distancing. Contactless catering is also an option that allows you to order online. Ask in-person attendees to wear masks while plating their food and social distance when eating. 

Hybrid events are the safer option 

Whether you’re planning a business meeting or a casual friend and family gathering, a hybrid event works for everyone. In-person guests can follow safety protocol while those invitees who may feel unsafe attending the event in-person will be grateful that they can still participate in the fun. Hybrid events will make your guests feel safe and valued, despite the current challenges of the pandemic. 

When you’re ready to host a hybrid event, TooJay’s can provide COVID-19 compliant (and budget-friendly!) catering services for events big and small! Take a look at our catering menu and contact us if you have questions.