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Face to face Vs Virtual Vs Hybrid Event: Which one will rule the event industry in 2021

There is no doubt in saying that events are and will always be the best way to debate, educate and communicate with people of a common purpose. In the pre-covid 19 era, face to face events was the best way to host an event. However, as we are stepping into 2021 aka the new future of the event industry, there are multiple trends to choose from. With the new trends coming our way it is very likely to feel confused and have questions.
Here is a quick guide to help you keep up with new trends and find the best fit for you and your attendees:

Physical Events

The in-person event can be described as a public assembly held in a venue for business, marketing, celebration, education and so on. In-person events require all the attendees to be present in a physical location at the time of the event.

PROS

  • One of the very obvious and biggest benefits of face-to-face events is personal contact. The key purpose of hosting any event is to encourage interaction between people and the easiest and most effective way to do it is face to face. The majority of people attend an event not just for the content, but also to meet people who share their interests.
  • Offline events allow attendees to physically feel the new products and collect merchandise like branded tee shirts, bottles, pens, etc. This also allows companies to promote their brands during and after the event.
  • Body languages like gestures, postures, facial expressions and eye movements play a huge role in active communication and they can be best deciphered and understood in live events. Even gestures as simple as handshakes or eye contact makes an event more memorable and can build a better professional relationship.

CONS

  • to attain the elements like hiring caterers and other staff, booking a venue, travelling, lodging, insurance etc.
  • Face to face events can only be attended by a limited number of people due to venue capacity and time & geographical barriers.
  • Unlike virtual or hybrid events, physical events’ content cannot be downloaded and reviewed for later on. Hence, physical events have a finite shelf-life.
  • The physical events lack in the technical sphere which ultimately limits the amount of data you can access at the time. This means that the results from a physical event are measurable, but the immediacy and analysis tools are more limited. Also, unlike digital/hybrid event Attendees’ journeys & activities cannot be tracked precisely.

Virtual Events

Virtual events have gained most of their recognition and popularity during the time of Covid-19 and the number of virtual events have been rapidly increasing. 2020 was the year of the virtual event and ever since then, virtual events have continued to gain more traction and prominence. A virtual event is an online event that often features webinars, video conferences, virtual training activities, webcasts, online conferences etc. The most basic definition of a virtual event is an online event that involves people interacting in a virtual environment, rather than a physical location.

PROS

  • Virtual events are one of the most time and cost-effective ways to host an event as they do not require venues or hotel booking, caterers, travelling, lodging, physical promotional materials like pamphlets, banners etc. 
  • Virtual events demolish all the time and geographical restrictions. People from different areas and time zones can effortlessly attend the event from the comforts of their homes. Virtual events usually provide features like downloadable content which facilitates attendees around the world to attend the event whenever they want.
  • Virtual events enable you to showcase your brand in innovative and creative ways with customizable booths, images and video gallery, branded webinars and much more. Features like product demonstrations and 1:1 meetings, polling and Q&As gain more attention and attraction of audiences. You can use your creativity to personalize your event page with different colour, theme, background 
For example, you can choose a creative environment to host your event in- it could be a sea beach or even moon!

  • The virtual event allows you to have real-time access to all the data related to the meetings. It also collects all content engagement data and analytics. This offers the company immediate and accurate information on the ROI, which will allow them to take immediate corrective measures and improve the quality of present and future events.
  • Attendees’ journeys & activities can be easily and accurately  tracked in digital/hybrid events. Virtual events offer an opportunity to understand your attendees like never before because you can keep tabs on their complete journey, activities and actions.
  •  Virtual events significantly reduce carbon emission. Unlike physical events, virtual events create no amount of waste production. Since virtual events do not require venue or travelling, the energy consumption also cuts down drastically. All in all, it is safe to say that virtual events are completely sustainable and eco-friendly
  • Virtual events allow you to reach and interact with people all around the world. From Paris to Varanasi, people all around the world can attend and participate in your event.
  • You can now attract high-demanded or exclusive exhibitors or speakers who usually cannot attend a physical event because of their limited time but are interested in your event
  • You may be able to attract high-demand speakers and exhibitors who have little to no time to spare for in-person conferences but are willing to join your virtual event. This is not only more convenient for your schedule, but also saves you money on travel and lodging.

CONS

  • Though virtual events are convenient and efficient, yet they lack in building personal connections and interactions between the audiences. Hence, people whose key purpose of attending the event is to interact with others with similar interest might consider these less valuable.  
  • In virtual events, attendees can easily be distracted by local activities such as phone ringing, household disturbances, notifications etc. Keeping people’s attention for long periods online is challenging. While interacting with the exhibitors via online Q&A, Live Polling, etc. might help, but it’s not the same as being there in person.
  • Not all people are tech-savvy, some people do not consider a virtual event as a right fit for them because of the tech complications.

Hybrid Events

As in the name, hybrid events are a mixture of both live and virtual events. This means take your physical event, complete with an audience, content, and more, and you add a virtual component to it so your audience can participate and engage with your event, no matter where they are. This approach is usually considered the best of both worlds. Organizers can take advantage of what works best at a physical event and what works best at a virtual event and merge the two.

PROS

  • Hybrid offers choice and flexibility to your attendees to choose whether to attend events face-to-face or online. So now the attendees who want to experience events in-person can opt for the physical event and attendees who want to attend the event from their couches can opt for the virtual event. This expands the overall reach of your event and further amps up the attendance of your audience in the event
  • The popularity that the sponsors are able to derive from the hybrid events is more than ever. With the hybrid event, sponsors can be showcased in front of people in the live event and on the screen with virtual events, which gives them double the exposure they had before. This also attracts more sponsors to invest in the event that further adds more value to the event. 
  • Many businesses are rethinking their approach to gatherings in one place and hosting an event, not just because of COVID-19, but also to use resources more efficiently and reduce the negative impact on the environment. Hybrid events are always beneficial to reduce carbon emissions.

Conclusion

After observing the above pros and cons it is safe to say that the hybrid event is winning the race as it contains the best of both virtual and physical events.
With the advancement of technology, event trends may keep on evolving. Event organisers will have to adapt to changing needs and demands of the audiences to survive and succeed.
Want to host a virtual or hybrid event? Contact ibentos for consultation or demonstration. ibentos is an Event Technology & Event Marketing Company that has extensive experience in working closely with Event Organisers across the globe. ibentos delivers an enriching experience, spectacular results, and ROI-driven solutions to the Event Organisers.