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In-Person, Virtual, or Hybrid: Choosing the Best Event Format for Your Upcoming Events

What Event Format is Right for You?

Five years ago, heck two years ago, event planning was a little simpler. You chose your event goals, selected a location, picked the best property to host, and marketed it to capture your attendee’s attention. But post-pandemic, diverse event strategies that incorporate a portfolio of events that are in-person, virtual, and hybrid are increasingly common amongst organizations of all sizes. One of the top challenges facing the planners we work with today is choosing whether to host each event in-person, virtual, or hybrid event. So today, we’re going to outline the pros of each event format. Plus, give you a few questions to ask to help guide this seemingly difficult decision!

In-Person Events: Best for Deep Personal Connections & Experiences

There is no 100% replacement for face-to-face connection. In fact, planners struggle when selecting virtual event platforms because they don’t have the ability to match the engagement that comes with hosting a group in person. One-on-one conversations, serendipitous connections, wow factor of shared experiences, the list goes on. 

Additionally, trade events with many vendors and suppliers, that in-person booth experience will always rival the virtual replacement. EventMB’s recent research shared that the net promoter score for digital trade events was at -51. A net promoter score is a figure that’s determined from a survey response indicating how likely an attendee is to recommend an event. When the outcome is negative, that’s not effective or productive. So, it’s easy to infer that those types of trade show experiences do much better as a live in-person event.

If your main goal is to create meaningful, deep connections with partners, sponsors, customers, etc. hosting an in-person event is a great option for you.

Virtual Events: Best for Safety, Cost, & Reach

The major plus of virtual events that organizations have seen across the globe is that they break down physical barriers. And they require much less capital and lead time to plan than in-person or hybrid counterparts. In fact, over 80% of planners saw an increase in reach with a shift to virtual, and 84% said they spent less than an in-person event. Virtual events can reach anyone, anywhere. Plus, they provide easier opportunities to record sessions and capitalize on content post-event. So if your intention is to get your brand out there, position yourself as a thought leader in your industry, or host more events for less of an investment, virtual could work quite well.

Plus, nearly half of planners shared with EventMB that their top obstacle and concern with hosting events was the safety of their attendees and stakeholders. If your organization keeps coming back to this concern or if your demographic is slightly older and doesn’t feel comfortable attending live events still, virtual is best. It will ease concerns, while still allowing you to achieve event success.

Hybrid: Best of Both Worlds!

The best part about hybrids is they give you the best of both worlds. You can meet those goals for close connection, while also extending the reach of say your keynote or key breakout sessions. So, if you have goals that include both reach and connection, hybrid is the best option. 

One thing to consider with hybrid events is the budget. Since you’re essentially producing two events in one, your cost will inevitably be higher. But so will your ROI!

Ask Yourself These 5 Key Questions to Decide Between In-Person, Virtual, or Hybrid for Your Event Format

To help decide which event format is best for you, start by asking these questions:

  • What would event success look like to me?
  • What does my target audience want? (Hint: if you don’t know, ask!)
  • Do I have an event budget I need to stay within?
  • What style of event am I hosting? (i.e. conference, cocktail networking event, educational workshop, etc.)
  • Are there COVID restrictions in the destination(s) we’re considering?

The answers to these should help guide you in the right direction!

Need Advice on Which Event Format is Best for Your Business? 

At Eventistry by Alecia, we help clients plan in-person, virtual, and hybrid events every single day, across the globe. By analyzing your event goals and the answers to the above questions, we’ll help guide you in the right direction and provide advice for which event format will be most effective. Sharing our expertise is what we do best, and we’ll help you reach those event goals—and likely exceed them! Let’s talk about your 2022 events, schedule a time slot today.

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