Understanding the Basics of Virtual & Hybrid Events

Digital events seem to be completing a significant piece of our digital world. And just like other activities, we can decide to attend or host an event with just a few clicks. In other words, now events are available at one’s fingertips. Making it much more comfortable to attend an event or to host an event.

The outbreak of pandemic last year is one of the prominent reasons behind the popularity of digital events. And why shouldn’t it be? The pandemic confined us to our home. And shift all our activities to the digital world. This included events too.

Despite the emergence of digital events more than two decades ago, it was only last year when people realized the importance of digital/online events. And as a result, digital event technology was under constant development. And today, one can host events from any location. But many people are still unaware of digital/online events. So let’s focus on what digital events are?

Digital events are those events that take place in digital settings instead of physical ones. These events can be divided into two categories, that are virtual and Hybrid events.

Differentiating Virtual and Hybrid Events

One can differentiate between virtual and hybrid events by looking at the format of the event. Virtual events are those events that are entirely digital or virtual. And they don’t contain any physical element from the event venue to the audience- everything is digital.

Whereas, in the case of Hybrid events, the venue of the event is physical. And also, the audience is partially physical. But these events also host virtual or digital audiences. This makes them unique from their physical and virtual counterparts.

This is the primary difference between these two categories of events. And if you are confused about which event format is the right choice for you, don’t worry. You should look at the pros and cons of both events before making any decision.

Benefits of Hosting Virtual Events

Hosting a virtual event can be beneficial in many ways. Some of these are-

  1. Easy to set up -You can easily organise a virtual event. You don’t have to worry about booking a venue. Or other things like travelling, food and accommodation.
  2. Higher reachSince the event is digital, one doesn’t need to go anywhere. So you can save the time required for travelling. Hence people with the busiest schedule can attend the event.
  3. No geographical barriersWith the virtual event, you can host anyone from any part of the world. Thus, letting you host a truly global event.
  4. More controlVirtual events are less likely to get affected by external factors like weather or even a pandemic.
  5. Long time returnsYou can upload the recording of your virtual event on the website. And can generate traffic on your website long after the event has ended.

Downs of Hosting Virtual Events

The cons of hosting a virtual event are only few. These are-

  1. Not ideal for communication– Virtual events lack the communication level of a physical event. And it makes it harder to interact with someone in the virtual event.
  2. Harder to focus– When it comes to attention in virtual events, it is one of the few weaknesses of virtual events. Since it is easy to get distracted, event organisers need to be more careful with the event schedule. 
  3. Not a good fit for long events– Virtual events are not the best option for hosting long events. Since one can quickly get distracted, long-duration virtual events should be avoided.
  4. High possibility of technical issues– Virtual events rely solely on technology. And there are always chances of technology issues. That is why virtual events are prone to technical problems.

Benefits of Hosting Hybrid events

Just like virtual events, Hybrid events also have various advantages of hosting hybrid events.

  1. More options for audiences– Hybrid events let the attendees choose how they want to attend the event. One can attend the event virtually or in person, depending upon the situation.
  2. Highly inclusive event– Sometimes, people cannot travel to the event venue. However, with the hybrid event, they have the option to attend the event virtually. This makes the event more accessible.
  3. Reduced carbon footprint– You can shift a substantial number of people to digital space. This means fewer live audiences and a reduction in the consumption of resources.
  4. Better sponsorship opportunity– Hybrid events host a broader audience. And this makes hybrid events an attractive destination for sponsors.
  5. Audience engagement– In hybrid events, you have more options to engage the audience at the event. And you can use different tactics to engage both physical and virtual audiences.

Downs of Hosting Hybrid Events

Despite a long list of advantages, the hybrid event also comes with some disadvantages.

  1. Complicate event to host– A hybrid event contains elements of both live and virtual events. This means you have to host two different types of events in a single event. As a result, many people find hybrid events complex.
  2. Challenging to manage the event– In a hybrid event, you have two types of audiences. It is a bit difficult to manage a Hybrid event. As you have to cater to two different audiences simultaneously.
  3. Need more staff – Because you have a diverse audience in a hybrid event, you need more staff for the event. And this staff needs to have experience in handling live and virtual audiences. So you need more people for hosting this type of event.
  4. Hard to provide a similar experience– You need to balance between the two audiences. If you focus too much on one type of audience, others may feel left out. So try to provide the same experience to both audiences.

These are the pros and cons of both virtual and hybrid events. And based on these pros and cons, you can decide which event format is for your event.

However, you should consider other factors while selecting the event format. These factors are

  • Budget – It is one of the most crucial factors while hosting the event. Virtual events and Hybrid events are much more cost-effective in comparison to physical events.
  • Audience  – The number of audiences will determine the size of the event venue. But for virtual events, you don’t need an event venue.
  • Current situation – Some places are allowing social gatherings while others don’t. So based on the current situation around you, select the event format.
  • Goals – If your event is for a particular community or city, you can host a hybrid event. Otherwise, you can choose a virtual event.

You should consider the above factors before finalizing the format of your event.