Live, virtual or hybrid – which event type is best?

Aug 2, 2021 | Corporate, Events

Event planning for social and professional events typically aims to achieve one common goal, to bring people together with a shared purpose – to educate, celebrate, debate, network etc.

In the past, live events were the number one choice to accomplish these goals. However, the pandemic has pushed new event types into the spotlight. There are now several options for your events:

In-person – the audience attends in a physical location

Virtual – the audience attends entirely online

Hybrid – the audience can attend both in-person and online.

Picking the right event type is an important decision, which hinges on a variety of factors including cost, size, audience type and your event’s purpose. Each one has their own unique benefits and drawbacks.

Find out which event type is right for you with this guide.

 

Live events

 

Benefits

 

  • Communication – Face-to-face interaction is the best expression of communicating with people. Effective communication involves being able to read and understand a person’s body language, gestures, head positions and eye movements.
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  • Human experience – We’re social creatures by nature. Many people attend live events because they give them the opportunity to meet new friends, customers and business partners, as well as reconnecting with existing contacts. Building genuine human relationships with likeminded people is unmatched by other event types and is the main reason people attend live events.

 

Disadvantages

 

  • Potentially expensive – Live events require hiring a venue, which can eat into your budget very quickly. Whilst small venues can cost as little as £100 for the event, hiring venues that can cater to large audiences like conference centres and arenas can cost upwards of £10,000 per day. That’s before you think about other expenses like guest speakers, equipment hire, catering and general event management.
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  • Limited capacity – Every venue has a limited capacity, which limits your number of potential attendees. Social and networking events often benefit from a limited capacity, but if you’re organising a corporate event, it can be a hinderance.
     
    Maximising your event’s impact like driving new leads, sales and brand awareness can be difficult with a limited amount of people to target. On the flipside, live events can provide a more intimate experience for those that do attend.
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  • Fixed location – Having a singular location for an event favours people within a specific radius, which can be detrimental for companies and organisers with a national and international audience.Travel and accommodation costs are a barrier to attendance which becomes bigger the further away a person lives from the event. Attendees will weigh up whether the event is worth the time and financial cost of getting there in the first place.
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  • Unforeseeable events – Live events are easily disrupted by other external circumstances. For example, attendances can be affected by common occurrences like poor weather and congested traffic. They are also subject to more spontaneous circumstances like traffic accidents and social protests that are impossible to plan for.

 

Virtual events

 

Benefits

 

  • Quick and easy – With no need to hire a venue, deal with caterers or manage the general day-to-day activities to ensure live events are successful, virtual events are much easier to pull together quickly. All you need is access to a virtual hosting platform, as well as ensuring your presenters are prepared to go live.
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  • Low cost – Again, no venue and catering costs means your budget will go a lot further. Virtual events require access to video streaming technology as a minimum, as well as a decent microphone to make your event run smoothly. But that’s still a fraction of the cost of a venue.
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  • Increased reach – Running events online frees you from geographical and size constraints of physical venues. Attendees can easily join your event from anywhere in the world without having to worry about travel and accommodation.
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  • Long term content – It’s easy to record virtual events using most video streaming services or third-party tools. You can then re-purpose this content as part of your marketing strategy on your social media channels or as a lead magnet for non-attendees.
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  • Data & insight – Registering for virtual events like filling out an online form can provide you with rich, insightful data. You can use this to learn about your audience, quantify leads and gain feedback to help you improve quality for future events.

 

Disadvantages

 

  • Impersonal – Speed and cost-effective planning comes at the cost of the human experience. The lack of genuine social interaction, even something as small as chit chat with the person sat next to you, can make it difficult for attendees to feel properly engaged and excited by virtual events.
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  • Poor attention spans – In today’s day and age our lives are dominated by distraction machines like laptops and smartphones. With notifications popping up every two minutes and the urge to browse the web, it can be difficult for attendees to stay fully focused on virtual events, especially long ones.
     
    Physical events with anything from live speakers, workshops, networking and stage production command your attention far better. Keep your virtual events between 60-90 minutes long, without compromising on the quality of your content for the best chance to keep your audience interested.
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  • Lower value – With so many events available online, potential attendees may perceive virtual events as less worthy of their time. If they miss one event, they’re likely to find a replacement event to achieve their goals. Make sure your events are going to add real value to participants instead of hosting a generic event just because it’s quick and easy to do.

 

Hybrid events

 

Benefits

 

  • Best of both worlds – Hybrid events let you reap the benefits of both event styles. By providing both in-person and virtual experiences to your audience you can reap the benefits of effective communication and genuine human experience, whilst extending your reach and collecting insightful data on your attendees.
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  • Flexibility – Giving attendees the option to attend in-person or online can help boost overall attendance in two ways. First, it enables participants a convenient way to fit it into their busy lives without missing out. Second, the virtual option gives people who are undecided an easy way to see if it’s for them. If they enjoy it, they’ll be more likely to attend future live events.
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  • Budget saving – Splitting your audience between your in-person and virtual spaces can be a great way of saving money for large businesses. By downsizing your physical event space and creating an engaging virtual one alongside it can ensure you reach as many people as you can without the high costs.
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  • Limitless innovation – Organising a hybrid event requires you to create two distinct experiences using the same content to attract attendees. Live events can lean into the human experience more by providing unique workshops and sensory experiences. Virtual events, on the other hand, must take advantage of ever advancing events technology to provide creative ways to maximise audience engage online.

 

Disadvantages

 

  • More expensive – Despite the previous argument about saving money, most businesses will find the entry to hybrid events higher as you have the costs of both event types to factor into spending.
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  • It’s more work – Do you have the time and resources to effectively organise a hybrid event? It’s essentially two events with their own sets of challenges. Managing that workload can become difficult. To help manage planning and implementation to a professional standard, consider bringing in a production agency who specialise in hybrid events.
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  • Complex execution – The key to successful hybrid events is synchronising your virtual and in-person experiences and managing their challenges. This means creating complimenting experiences.
     
    Live events must consider how the virtual experience will be created. Since they’re often in much larger venues, a webcam and microphone won’t create a good experience here. Instead, you’ll require a high-quality video camera, streaming set up to transmit the feed and a production zone in-venue.
     
    Hybrid execution is a complex balancing act, where one hiccup can severely affect the quality of your event. This might be intimidating but when done properly, you can create a jaw-dropping experience for your audience. Again, hiring a production team would be a smart way to minimise risk for your event.
     
    You can read more about hybrid events and their benefits here.

 

Which approach is best for your event?

 

In truth, it depends. There is not one-size fits all approach to planning events.

Live events appeal to our social nature and are the best way of communicating and building relationships with other people, but they are restrictive in size and potentially costly.

Virtual events sacrifice the personal touch of traditional ones but make up for it in how quickly they can be planned and executed on a small budget.

Hybrid events combine the best of both event types, which serve to offset their individual downsides. At their best they create a truly engaging experience for people at home and in-venue, but they’re generally more expensive, more work and more complex to execute.

Any event you organise should take careful consideration of the unique pros and cons of the events to see which best fits your event’s purpose, audience size, content type, budget and so on.
 
Here at KwizzBit, we’re experts in delivering all event types for interactive quiz nights. If you’re interested in injecting a trivia gameshow solution to your next event, read our guide to quiz event costs for live, virtual and hybrid events.

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