Over the past year, there have been drastic changes in the way the world does events. While the common goal for event organizers is to bring people together to fulfill a mutual purpose, the way they do it depends on several factors. Budget, timeline, geography of attendees, and many others determine the sort of event that will help you derive the most value in the end.

Speaking of event types, organizers are now thinking ahead and considering options for 2021 and beyond. Hence, let’s figure out the unique benefits that physical, virtual, and hybrid events have to offer, and help you decide what’s the best fit for your organization. 

Virtual Events

Reduce cost As compared to in-person events, virtual events do not require a physical venue, nor do they require all that is associated with the venue in terms of a setup crew, F&B, valet, and much more – all that is required to run a successful event. This allows you to dedicate a smaller budget towards your expenses and make more room for profits.

Broaden your reach Virtual events can be attended from anywhere and on any device. They remove the need for any physical logistics such as travel and accommodation, therefore reaching every corner of the world, and maximizing your audience size.

Increased engagement – Connect with hundreds or even thousands of people simultaneously, and interact with them via text, audio, or video features. While physical events might win the debate over personal interactions, virtual events maximize the number of those interactions and multiply the value derived from them, providing a successful alternative to participants.  

Immersive and innovative experiences – With real-life designs and 3D avatars, virtual events allow you to create a “wow” factor for your audience. Want to imitate the view from your city? Consider it done! Want to welcome your audience with an avatar of your company rep? Consider that done too! There is not much to lose out on once you get creative and start utilizing the endless opportunities.

Measurable results – What’s all the effort for if you can’t record your results? You can assess results during any virtual event and obtain detailed reports to measure your ROI at the end of it. Not only will this help you share insights with exhibitors but will also allow you to set benchmarks and plan future events.

Evergreen content – Unlike physical events where all your marketing efforts eventually end up in trash cans once the event is over, virtual events conserve all your hard work and save content for later use. Since all your content is in the form of documents, pdfs, slide decks, recorded videos, and so on, it is now contributing towards your company’s own marketing collateral for as long as you want.

Eco-friendly events – Over time, hosting physical events has contributed immensely towards the Earth’s carbon footprint. Travel emissions and wasted printed material impact the environment more than can be imagined. Virtual events therefore rid you of all such adversities and helps you host eco-friendly events all the way! 

You might be interested in: The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Virtual Event

virtual event on laptop

Due to the visibly unending list of benefits that virtual events provide, organizers from every walk of life have been hosting these events. Therefore, the need for a strong strategy is crucial in order to cut through the noise and draw the highest value.

Limitations

While there is a large list of benefits to hosting virtual events, it is a relatively new industry with a lot of newcomers to the game. Finding a virtual event provider who will suit your needs can feel daunting and many first-time hosts don’t know what to ask when testing out virtual event products. Here is a quick resource to help you ask the right questions when looking for virtual event providers. 

Hybrid Events

Hybrid events, they say, are the way forward. This type of an event is a combination of a physical and a virtual event.

Boost attendance – Since you are now hosting two events at the same time, you are also targeting both the kinds of audience. This opens your hybrid event to a larger pool of attendees.

Flexibility to reach your audience – Attendees can choose whether to attend your event in person, online, or bits of both. So, for someone who previously used to attend your event in person but can’t this time, he/she can still go ahead and attend it online. Missing out is not an option in this case!

You might also be interested in: Why Hybrid Events Will Be Huge in 2021

hybrid event person hosting a session online and in person

Limitations

What gives you value can sometimes also be challenging though. In case of a hybrid event, you need to plan for both the physical and virtual counterparts of your event. This means, while you figure out the logistics of a physical event, you should also plan for the technology to serve a virtual event.

Physical Events

Build memorable connections – There is absolutely no doubt that personal contact has no replacement whatsoever. Face-to-face interactions add a distinctive element to professional relationships and create a long-lasting impact.

Personalized feedback In addition to relationship building, face-to-face events also allow organizers to collect on-ground feedback on a personal level. You can observe the ambience in the conference hall, for instance, and make the adjustments needed to improve the experience right away.

physical event

Limitations

However, where there are pros, there are also cons.

The cost of running a physical event is significantly higher – with venue and resource allocation to fulfill your needs. In addition, it limits your audience size due to geographical constraints such as travel and accommodation. On the other hand, it’s harder to measure success of physical events since it is really difficult to draw calculable data such as booth visits, conversations made, sessions attended, and so on, during the event.

What’s next?

The year 2020 has been a rollercoaster ride for the event industry, where “not knowing” has been the biggest challenge for many. However, luckily, in a very short period of time, organizers have been able to unlock a number of opportunities by adapting to technology and implementing bold strategies. 

What’s most important now is to understand the most rewarding areas of your organization, and spot the kind of event that complements your objectives.

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