Physical Events, Virtual Events, Hybrid Events: Which Is Best?

The Pros and Cons From In-Person, Virtual and Hybrid Events

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Two people sitting across each other with two microphones, a camera and a screen in the back.

It can be tricky to know which type of event to run in a post-pandemic world, as each has its advantages and disadvantages. The choice you make for your event depends on the kind of event you are running, as some events could benefit from being hybrid rather than virtual. 

The world is still reeling from the pandemic in many ways, and virtual events continue to be a popular choice. In 2022, marketers plan to increase their virtual events by 5% due to their success during the pandemic. Virtual events surprised the world with their flexibility, but physical events still possess a charm that can’t be reproduced virtually. 

To help you make this decision, I will evaluate the advantages of each type of event to decide what will work best for you.

A person in front of a crowd giving a talk with the help of a big screen with slides. (physical events, hybrid events)
Photo by Teemu Paananen

Physical Events 

A physical event is the first choice of every planner and attendee as they are often the most successful and enjoyed events. Physical events can efficiently cater to any size and event type with the right venue and organization. 

“When you choose a physical event, safety precautions are equally necessary for the organization,” says Murray BilbyPresident, of Todoos. He continues, “Ensuring the protection of both your attendees and speakers is a priority and made easier with the right crowd control products. A safer event is a more successful event.” 

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More Effective Networking

Physical events create a better environment for networking as they facilitate face-to-face communication, which, according to 85% of executives, builds stronger relationships. In addition, in-person networking leads to long-lasting relationships as they reduce the amount of unnecessary back and forth from miscommunication online. 

Greater Enjoyment 

Virtual events can sometimes feel detached because they lack in-person interactions with other guests and speakers. It feels far more personal to ask a panel a question than to type a question into a chatbox. Physical events are opportunities for business and knowledge expansion with added enjoyment. 

Memories can be made and documented at physical events to reminisce about fondly, while virtual events do not hold the same charm. 

Increased Sponsorship 

Companies can sponsor in-person events through physical advertisements, brand representatives, customized merchandise, and networking. This gives them a more significant ROI and increases their sponsorship donation. 

Sponsorship allows organizers to run the event more efficiently due to an increased budget. Moreover, sponsorship benefits attendees as they can form connections with brands, which may help them personally or professionally. 

Stronger Communication 

At virtual events, poor connection and disjointed communication are common problems that diminish the overall performance of an event. Information can easily be missed, resulting in confusion and misunderstanding. 

Physical events do not have this problem as they deliver content face-to-face without online restrictions. Attendees can recognize non-verbal cues easily and engage better overall at a physical event.

An audience paying attention at an event.
Photo by Headway

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Virtual Events 

Virtual events are a great solution if a physical event is impossible to host or inconvenient. However, some events are not efficient as in-person events, such as regular meetings, study groups, and webinars. 

Virtual events are simple to set up and run with the same benefits for attendees as a physical event. In addition, it saves time, money, and effort that can be redistributed into the virtual event. 

Small Budget 

Events require a lot of organization and a substantial budget to bring them into reality. There are considerable costs involved in physical events such as venue, equipment, food, speakers, and security, along with other additional charges and local taxation expenses that not all businesses can afford. 

With virtual events, costs severely diminish as they are easier to produce and require less to pull the event off. You need to set up the relevant technology, organize a speaker, and market the event like a physical event. For low-budget projects, virtual events are ideal. 

Cheaper For Attendees

Online events cross out the need to travel to attend events. As a result, this significantly reduces costs for attendees, which increases the participation levels. 

Paying for an event plus travel, hotels, and food can stack up and put off potential attendees. However, with online events, they only pay for the event, which is more affordable and will attract a significant number of attendees. 

Global Audience

Virtual events remove geographical limits as they are accessible to everyone across the globe via a screen. Events have to tour across countries to satisfy a global audience, but you can target every time zone with one event only with virtual events. 

Advanced-Data Collection

Businesses can establish their KPIs effectively at virtual events as many virtual platforms can display data analytics from the event. You can collect data on attendance, engagement, and enjoyment to gain insight and improve your future events.  

Hybrid Events

Hybrid events bring together elements of both virtual and physical events to suit the needs of everyone. For events like trade shows, lectures, and business meetings, running a hybrid event is an effective solution to boost attendance. 

During the pandemic, hybrid events became increasingly popular as countries shifted in and out of lockdowns. So the question is, are hybrid events still a good option?

Increased Attendance 

Circumstances that prevent people from attending events, such as sickness, or inability to travel, often arise unexpectedly. However, by conducting your event both virtually and physically, these circumstances do not prevent attendance, allowing your event to be a success. 

Reduced Carbon Footprint

If fewer people travel to attend the event physically, the event’s overall carbon footprint reduces as often people will have to drive or fly to attend some in-person events. A smaller physical audience will also require less equipment to hold the event, which will reduce emissions from transportation and labor. 

Event Capacity 

Most venues have capacity limits for guests, which must be adhered to because of fire safety protocols. If an event is so popular that it reaches the maximum limit for guests, running the event hybrid is an excellent solution to welcome more attendees without surpassing the guest limit. 

This will also have a significant impact on the health and safety of the event as physical attendees will be less and easier to manage and maintain a good level of security. 

Stronger Content Engagement

Popular events, such as conferences, run several panels simultaneously to suit everyone’s interests and fit an extensive schedule into a short period. As a result, many people will miss some panels they may have wanted to attend, but this isn’t an issue with hybrid events. 

All panels are recorded and can be watched or rewatched after the event for maximum content engagement. No one will have to miss out on any aspect of the event if it’s hybrid. 

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Which Event Should You Choose?

Choosing the type of event to run will depend on dozens of variables specific to your events. In most cases, physical and hybrid events suit different events while still pleasing all attendees. 

Hybrid events are the true compromise of both physical and virtual events as they take advantage of both events to give attendees the best of both worlds. Physical events are more enjoyable, facilitate more accessible communication, and allow for more sponsorship, while virtual events suit people who cannot travel and want to reduce their carbon footprint. 

Together, hybrid events are the ideal choice for every event.

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