Best Practices Employed by Cisco Live’s Hybrid Event


On July 10-14, 2011, Cisco hosted its annual user conference, Cisco Live.  The hybrid event had its physical gathering in Las Vegas, while the digital extension took place in Cisco Live Virtual, hosted on our virtual events platform. I’d like to share some observations (on best practices) from this hybrid event.

Best Practice: Simplify the User Experience

cisco live virtual sponsor space

With so much content available in the environment, attendees of Cisco Live Virtual want the platform to “get me to the content I want, quickly.” You’ll notice that Cisco Live Virtual 2011 has a simplified user interface, allowing content and brands to take center stage.

In the past, the image of a sponsor space (above) may have included graphical representations of a physical booth. Cisco Live learned that attendees don’t care to “feel like” they’re visiting a physical booth. Instead, they want “booth content” and they want the platform to make it easy for them to find and consume it.

As you can see, visitors to this sponsor space (above) can immediately view videos and are presented with a number of “content tabs” in which they can obtain product information.  In addition, they can visit the “Blog” tab to view blog postings authored by the sponsor.

Best Practice: Connect the Physical Event to the Digital Audience

cisco live virtual leverages live video

As in past years, live video of key sessions was streamed into Cisco Live Virtual as it was happening at the physical event. While this practice is somewhat of a “given” when producing a “concurrent hybrid event,” what Cisco Live Virtual did this year was to place an embedded video player front and center upon attendee login (pictured above).

Digital event planners need to think about the “first impression” they want to create. With Cisco Live Virtual, the first impression revolved around “live” and “now,” showing live video content from the physical event.

The embedded video player didn’t disappear now that the Vegas event has concluded. Instead, Cisco Live Virtual is playing on-demand video content from the physical event. This is great togive virtual attendees a taste of the physical event, which may interest them to attend in-person next year.

Best Practice: Leverage Digital to Drive Interest in Physical

In the past, Cisco Live Virtual provided a premium subscription option, for which users paid $400 to access premium content within the digital environment. For 2011, Cisco Live made “virtual access” free to all attendees, eliminating the $400 subscription (more details can be found in this C&IT article).

A digital extension significantly expands the audience reach of your physical event. And as Cisco Live has discovered, the digital component is a great awareness and marketing tool to drive interest (and attendance!) to your physical event.


Cisco Live was one of the earliest adopters of the “concurrent hybrid event.” With each passing year, it’s fun to observe how they adapt and innovate on the hybrid event model. Congrats to the Cisco Live team on the 2011 U.S. event – we’ll be looking out for future innovations.


Related Resources
  1. Case Study: Cisco Live Hybrid Event (with results from 2009 and 2010)
  2. White Paper: Hybrid Event Best Practices


Post contributed by Dennis Shiao