Hybrid Events Are the Future: Here’s How to Create Successful Ones

By: Alex Schrecengost, CEO of Virtual With Us

It’s more important than ever before for companies to go the extra mile to retain employees and lift morale. As more professional organizations adopt a hybrid model of in-person and remote work, hybrid-friendly virtual events are a reliable way to bring colleagues together for the kind of casual after-work entertainment we’ve all been missing.

Alex Schrecengost is founder and CEO of Virtual With Us, which curates and plans online, hybrid and eventually in-person events for professional organizations and private groups to take the guesswork out of the process and get people together, faster. A new pillar of her company, Culture With Us, is perfecting the art of corporate gifting, unique experiences, and inclusivity across hybrid, remote and in-person employees with onboarding and team building offerings like Meet and Greets, Office Tours and Hybrid Retreats.

“With employees deciding to work from anywhere, whether it’s to travel and experience more than they were previously able or to spend more time with their families, inclusivity is essential to maintaining the satisfaction that ultimately leads to productivity,” she says. Finding the balance between the interactions employees enjoy at the office and these beneficial freedoms can make all the difference, empowering professionals to do their best work while ensuring nobody is left out just because of where their desk may be.

Facilitating conversation is key to a successful hybrid event, allowing the event to progress at a natural, comfortable pace that keeps remote and in-person teammates engaged and focused on each other. Look to the company’s values for inspiration on conversation starters, ice-breakers, and topics that foster interpersonal connections. “It’s about understanding the objectives of the organization,” adds Alex, who thoroughly researches each client during event planning. “Realizing the perspectives of the attendees is the best way to inform successful programming for both Virtual With Us and Culture With Us.”

Finally, and most importantly, every great event needs top-quality entertainment, and this is where the fun comes in. A huge range of interactive entertainment is available via livestream, from sommelier-lead tastings to dueling pianos, circus performances, cupcake decorating lessons and yoga classes. By booking remote professionals that are excited to impart their own unique flair, you set yourself apart from every video conference that doesn’t have a circus performance or sommelier-led wine tasting.

“Culture With Us recently hosted a hybrid event with a blind wine tasting that transitioned into a dueling pianos performance, which was a lot of fun,” says Alex. “There’s a whole new world of leisure we’re helping companies discover and benefit from.”


Alexandra Schrecengost, CEO of Virtual With Us

CEO of curated virtual events company Virtual With Us, with more than 15+ years of experience in wine, spirits and luxury hospitality communications.

A WSET level 3 certified wine professional and longtime fine wine and spirits communications specialist, Alex launched the company when she saw her husband and his colleagues’ need for nurturing and building professional relationships. Virtual With Us is the only virtual events business that’s focused on high quality interactive experiences and ultimately relationship building in the workplace–for socialization and interaction with colleagues, so no one feels like they are in a silo. Giving voice to diversity and inclusion are at the center of Virtual With Us, especially in the digital medium which will be the backbone for vibrant workplace cultures and inclusion in the future–whether it be hybrid virtual onboarding first day meet & greets, office tours and retreats/off-sites.

And because VWU’s sommelier network is composed of top wine professionals who seek to continue educating the public about outstanding wine and producers every day, whether in-person or remote, it created much needed jobs and opportunities to the hospitality industry which had essentially collapsed amid COVID. Today, it’s helping hospitality professionals with additional income after an incredibly tough year, as well as giving them the opportunity to #workfromanywhere if they want.

Alexandra is currently studying for the WSET Diploma, and holds a Masters of Public and Organizational Relations from Montclair State University. She serves on the beverage committee for The James Beard Foundation on and on the board of Self Help Africa. Alex lives in New Jersey with her husband and their identical twin boys.


Brandilyn Chilsen on Beating the Odds and Challenging Stigmas as a Female Powerhouse in Male-Dominated Industries

No matter how hard others would argue otherwise, women have suffered from gender norms since time immemorial. From being objectified to considered inferior beings, every woman worldwide had to contend with the harsh reality that comes hand in hand with their gender. Not only do they have to work twice as hard as men do in any field, but they also get less recognition and respect. However, more significant strides have been made in recent decades to promote gender equality. Although there is a lot more to be done in terms of achieving parity, more and more women now have the opportunity to demonstrate that they can dominate any space. Brandilyn Chilsen, also known as Brandilyn the Nerd Diva, is one such powerhouse that has left a mark in her industry.

Serving as a source of inspiration to other aspirants, Brandilyn Chilsen is an acclaimed IT specialist and lifestyle influencer recognized as one of the top 100 technology influencers and innovators in the world. Driven by the vision of achieving a successful future, she went all out, beating numerous odds and persevering amidst challenges in order to secure a coveted spot in multiple industries.

“I got to where I am today with hard work and perseverance,” this go-getter shares. Not only did she have to play the hand she’s dealt with in a lot of instances and settle with the fact that the road is almost always going to be more challenging for those who were not born to privilege, but she also had to face the judgment of naysayers. Repeatedly told that she was ugly, stupid, and worthless, Brandilyn Chilsen clung tightly to what she knew was the truth – that she was neither of those things and had so much potential.

Armed with the determination to establish a name, Brandilyn Chilsen eventually managed to materialize her dreams, making waves as a fashion model and one of the top technology experts globally. The process was nowhere near easy as she had to continuously challenge the stigma that women are not as good with technology as men. Unlike her male colleagues, she had to prove her worth and show that she has what it takes to ace the game. Through her success, she sends across the message that industries are for the taking of anyone who is willing to pour in the effort, time, and resources needed to excel regardless of their gender.

Brandilyn Chilsen is proud to say that she has left a legacy and set an example for other dreamers to follow by reaching the forefront of the real estate industry as a female coder. Today, she is maneuvering countless budding moguls toward the life they desire by empowering them. Wholeheartedly helping those under her wing to attract more wealth into their life with technology, fashion, beauty, and travel, the future household name brings to the table a fresh perspective and an admirable approach toward success.

Learn more about Brandilyn Chilsen by visiting her website and Instagram page.