When planning an event, whether social or professional, the primary goal is to bring people together for education, celebration, information, or hold a debate. In the past, live in-person events were the best way to hold events and accomplish all these goals, but recently planning events has gotten more complicated. Event organizers have had a difficult time because of the pandemic causing them to find a better fit for these challenging times.
Therefore, it is advisable to know the options available and their intricacies before actualizing your next big event. Most importantly, it is crucial to understand what works for you and its downsides.
Knowing which approach is best for your event comes down to a few factors, such as the event’s size, timeline, budget, and geography. Since each event has its uniqueness and approaches, this article will take a deep dive into virtual vs. hybrid events, focusing on what you need to know to choose which suits you best.
In a virtual event, all aspects and attendee participation occur virtually online. The event is based on a chosen platform, where both hosts and attendees meet and deliberate on their issues. It is, however, essential to note that virtual events are live and not pre-recorded. Even though you can go back later to peruse through the recorded content, the event is set at a specific time for the attendee’s engagement.
With planners pivoting more towards online events than in-person events due to the restrictive measures of the pandemic, virtual events have gained traction through thoughtful strategies to connect with the attendees and drive engagement. It has therefore become popular due to the following benefits:
Benefits of Virtual Events
1. Saves Time
Even though virtual events require preparation before going live, it is not as time-consuming as hybrid or physical events. Due to its nature, the only time required is for the setup and testing of the platform.
Therefore, the people planning the event have more time to market, advertise, and promote. Additionally, promoters have more time to focus on the agenda and streamline the needs of those in attendance rather than the preparation.
2. Reduces Expenses Significantly
When comparing virtual vs. hybrid events, virtual events are less expensive. The requirement for a successful event only includes a well-running platform and an excellent presentation to those in attendance.
In addition, those in attendance will also have a reduced cost since it eliminates traveling, accommodation, food, and other expenses.
3. Increases Attendee Count
Virtual events record a high attendance rate because of their un-limiting nature. Compared to in-person events, virtual events do not have a venue limit and hence can handle as many people as the chosen site can hold. Secondly, participants will be more inclined to join the event since they can do it anywhere since no traveling is required.
Finally, the high numbers are attested to the possibility of multi-tasking. Those attending have the luxury of carrying on with their daily activities, such as training, while still following up on the event, making it possible to handle a couple of tasks and not forfeiting some.
4. Expands Global Reach
The virtual nature of the event opens it up for a global reach through a single click. Since the event isn’t restricted to a venue or locality, anyone can join in as long as there is prior knowledge of its existence.
Consequently, these give the event a reach to a broader selection of speakers, panelists, and content, thereby making it more inclined to meet its purpose.
Drawbacks of Virtual Events
No Face To Face Interactions
The most prevalent disadvantage of virtual events is the lack of face-to-face interaction. The interaction offered cannot be compared to that availed by in-person events—simple human interactions, whether planned or otherwise, cannot be duplicated in the technology world.
In addition, virtual events restrict networking opportunities since after the event is complete, everyone logs out from their different corners and goes back to their routine.
It is hard to tell whether your audiences’ attention is on your presentation at a virtual event. The people on the other end of the meeting might be busy doing something else and not getting your presentation’s full impact. Additionally, in virtual events, it is not possible to tell the reaction of your attendees by reading their responses as the devices mask it. Therefore, the presenter feels isolated from their audience.
A hybrid event combines both in-person and virtual events that allow participation. Therefore, one can attend whether in person or through the hybrid event platform. After the vaccine rollout, there has been a rise in Hybrid events where those vaccinated attend in person and those awaiting the jab follow the event through a platform.
Benefits Of Hybrid Events
Since hybrid events comprise both in-person and virtual aspects while adjusting the drawbacks found on the virtual model. It carries some of the benefits of virtual events such as saving time and some additions such as:
Increased Attendance And Reach
Due to their diverse nature, hybrid events have higher attendance and reach. Adding a virtual element to the event gives those in distant places an opportunity to be part of it. The interested individual can join, giving the hybrid events an edge on attendance and reach.
Higher Return on Investment
Considering hybrid vs. virtual events, this model gives a chance to increase revenue from the event and yield a high ROI. It has many avenues that are open for monetizing event spaces and content. From sponsors on your event to ads streams on the event, there is an option to generate a significant amount of money.
Drawbacks of Hybrid Events
Planning two Experiences
The planning of a hybrid event involves two separate affairs since it has the personal aspects and the virtual aspect. The preparation for both events can be draining and have additional costs. Overcoming this by early planning allows everything to be in its place on the event day.
Providing Engaging Experience For All
Engaging the two types of attendees may be a challenge since you have a present audience which may take your focus away from those on the virtual platform. One group might end up feeling forgotten and frustrated. This can, however, be overcome by having qualified teams in place to keep the event running smoothly.
Comparison of Virtual Vs. Hybrid Events
When these two models are compared, it is evident that the hybrid model has higher chances for your event to flourish. It is, however, based on aspects that you should consider. For starters, the cost implication of a hybrid model is higher than that of a virtual one.
Secondly, the size of the event, your holding and implications required. How big is the event you’re planning, and who are its dominant attendees? This will help you narrow down the model to use. For instance, if the more significant portion of your target is people around your area, it is advisable to use the hybrid model and vice versa.
Finally, with the current pandemic situation, it is vital to consider the safety of the people who join your event. Those in attendance will need space according to standards by the health official, which translates to higher charges in the space you will acquire. In this case, it is prudent to consider what works for both you and your attendees.