3 Keys to Successfully Building a Budget for Hybrid Events

3 Keys to Successfully Building a Budget for Hybrid Events

According to many event and meeting planners, there was an irony to the pandemic. While several aspects of daily work life were in flux, there was stability in the meeting and events planning process: It was a given that all gatherings would be virtual.

Now, planners are faced with a new uncertainty. Should events be held in an in-person, virtual, or hybrid format? For many, especially in this economy, it comes down to budgets and returns on investment.

The following provides guidance on how event and meeting planners can build the right budget for a hybrid format.

Based on 6Connex’s research, hybrid events can incur a 30% to 40% increase in costs, primarily due to event technology requirements. This cost increase is often justified. The technology performs double duty and bridges the gap between onsite and virtual attendees, enabling event and meeting planners to attract more participants. Common barriers to widespread event attendance such as expense, travel and time are removed.

In addition, the technology can also track each attendee’s behavior and engagement, which informs marketing and sales teams and enables them to accelerate qualified lead identification and acceleration through the pipeline. In other words: event technology empowers organizations to unlock more new revenue opportunities faster.

Hybrid events also give event professionals infinite opportunities to create fresh, personalized, interactive event experiences and digital hooks for capturing attendee interest and delivering event value.

With the choice and flexibility of a hybrid event, attendees can curate the perfect event experience to meet their needs. They can download content in the language of their choosing. They can use match-making apps to network with peers in their same industry, or with their same title, or in their same country of origin. They can visit the booths of on-site and online sponsors alike. And regardless of whether they’re attending the event in person or virtually, they can participate in polls, engage in games and contests, and promote their experience via social media.

To start planning, event organizers should ask the following three questions, taking an audience-first approach.

  1. Where can we leverage technology to add value before, during and after the event?
  2. How can we build activities that appeal to both physical and digital audiences?
  3. How can we use technology to analyze the event?


To execute a hybrid event well, event organizers need to think about where technology adds value to an event and then introduce the technology accordingly. Outline event goals for attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors and then identify where technology plays best. The most successful hybrid events are those that can blur the lines between digital and physical engagement and drive traffic to each other.

Planners should budget for:

  • The creation and hosting of a virtual environment
  • Technology to livestream and host on-demand content
  • Event app technology that not only allows attendees to register digitally, but also provides details on agendas, exhibitors, sponsors, presenters, etc.
  • Cybersecurity to ensure attendee information and other data collected throughout the event is secured to the highest standard with end-to-end encryption and no local applications for hosts or attendees to install
  • Accessibility features such as screen readers, real-time captioning, and live translations
  • Analytic software or applications that can analyze event data and provide reports to organizers as well as exhibitors and sponsors


Event organizers will want to optimize attendee engagement and can do so by leveraging numerous digital tools, including “gamifying” the experience and offering prizes or other rewards to encourage interactions and participation.

Planners should budget for:

  • Third-party engagement partners who can provide engagement tools and technology for both online and in-person attendees, such as digital photo booths, scavenger hunts and social media walls
  • The production and distribution of physical and digital materials, swag, and prizes
  • Catering at various points throughout the event. This may be on-site catering for in-person attendees, food delivery for virtual attendees, or a combination of both.


Adding virtual components to an in-person event requires more time and effort from event planning teams. Event planners need to budget for staff before and during the event, including IT or technical support.

Additional tasks required by event staff include:

  • Online hosting to engage with virtual attendees and answer questions
  • Working with digital design teams to ensure content, branding, images, etc. are created for the virtual environment
  • Working with sponsors to ensure they can leverage the virtual tools and technology, communicate with both in-person and virtual attendees, and make their collateral, etc. available digitally
  • Designing new pricing models for exhibitors and sponsors based on the addition of virtual attendees
  • Creating and running engagement/gamification programs

Additional Tips

Network with industry peers and research what has worked and not worked at other hybrid events and meetings. Learn from the successes and mistakes of others.

Identify technology providers and consultants who have experience hosting hybrid events, who can illustrate virtual environment designs, and who understand different cost models.

Understand where there is flexibility in the technology’s cost structure. For example, are virtual features and functionality such as digital badges, QR codes, AI-driven attendee recommendations, 1:1 chats, etc. bundled together, or can you purchase them a la carte?

Adding a virtual component to existing in-person events will naturally increase the budget. However, hybrid events are a nimble marketing tool, serving a larger audience and empowering event and meeting planners to create a personalized experience for attendees at every touchpoint, increasing the value of the event. Increasing event value means attendees are likely to come back, helping you build lasting relationships and create long-term revenue streams.


  • Luiz Martins

    Luiz Martins is the chief marketing officer at 6Connex, a leading provider of in-person, hybrid, and virtual event technology for enterprises worldwide. Luiz has over 25 years of experience in marketing, sales and operations at several multinational companies.

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