Virtual events and hybrid events, to a lesser extent, have largely been forgotten in the race back to in-person events. After two long years, companies can finally hold their events in person after masking mandates and travel restrictions have been lifted. Everything is back in person, from trade shows to sales kickoff meetings, association conferences to all-hands meetings. 

This race to in-person has not been without difficulty. Staffing shortages, empty exhibit halls, and low attendance numbers have plagued many events. Companies continue to ignore the challenges and focus exclusively on the benefits of in-person meetings, ignoring the ever-growing evidence that these in-person events are becoming more of an expense to their business rather than a revenue source. 

In 2019, less than 50% of all companies had ever held a virtual event and relied exclusively on in-person events for their marketing. This isn’t 2019, and companies need to stop ignoring the lessons learned through 2020 and 2021. A successful event strategy will take advantage of a combination of wholly in-person, hybrid, and fully virtual events. Read on to see a general overview of which event goals work best for each of the different types of events you should be leveraging. 

In-Person Events

In-person events have seen a massive rebound in 2022. While 2020 resulted in an oversized swing to virtual events, 2022 has seen a similarly inflated environment for in-person events primarily driven by a feeling of homecoming and enjoying life.

In-person events are great for creating connections and face-to-face interactions. No matter how impressive video conferencing gets, the ability to reach out and give a handshake and engage in a face-to-face conversation is almost impossible to replace. 

Here are some of the benefits of in-person events: 

  • In-person events remain the best at creating community and networking opportunities. Between shared experiences and the inability of AI/ML-assisted networking in virtual platforms to reflect holistic interests, nothing can compete with in-person events to provide face-to-face interactions that drive relationships and create long-lasting connections. 
  • In-person events give an immersive experience to your attendees. Not only does this allow you to generate energy and excitement around your brand and messaging, but it removes as many distractions as possible for your attendees. Without the distractions inherent in an office or home environment, you (and your sponsors) will have the full attention of your attendees! 
  • In-person events provide unparalleled ability to drive collaboration to increase retention of complex information. This collaboration can be critical for specific topics or industries, and having strategic meetings in person allows for brainstorming and more. 

Hybrid Events

The latest buzzword from event tech providers is “Hybrid.” The idea of a hybrid event sounds great at first glance! Who wouldn’t want to have the best of both worlds? 

Before you jump into hybrid events for your organization, here are two things you need to keep in mind: 

  1. Hybrid events need to be considered one event with two unique experiences. For example, think of a major sporting event. There is a unique in-person experience – concessions, the crowd’s energy, the chance to say “I was there when…”, and your friends in the seats behind you. There is also a unique ‘virtual’ experience – commentators explaining all the tiny details you might miss, a phenomenal view of the game, all you can make concessions, a comfy couch, and the commercials everyone eagerly anticipates. You need to bring the same level of planning and detail to both experiences of your hybrid event. 
  2. You must strive for what Lee Deaner, Leading Edge Training Solutions LLC owner, calls Hybrid Equity. Your virtual attendees must have the same level of engagement and chance to impact the outcome of your event as the in-person attendees. They cannot be second-class ticket holders. 

Once you have those two mindsets locked in, you are ready to take advantage of hybrid events. Here are some of the most significant benefits of hybrid events: 

  • They have the best of both worlds. Your attendees can attend in person if they are looking for networking opportunities, or they can attend virtually if they don’t wish to travel and leave their families for an extended time. They can even participate in person and come back to watch the sessions they missed virtually using On Demand. The choice is theirs! 
  • Because of this flexibility, hybrid events can offer you the greatest audience reach. Hybrid events allow your attendees to participate in the way they feel the most comfortable without judgment and still reap the full benefits of the event. 

Virtual Events

Despite what many in the event tech industry say, virtual events will not replace all in-person events. As the event tech industry is undergoing another paradigm shift as they struggle to remain relevant, saying that virtual events can meet all of the same aspects as in-person events is blatantly incorrect. 

Virtual events, however, have a substantial list of reasons why they are and will remain relevant to your event strategy. Ignoring the benefits of virtual events should be done at your own risk. 

Virtual events are great for your and your sponsors’ brand awareness and lead generation. They can provide a space for you to attract a larger audience than an in-person event, especially when considering multi-day or multi-stage events. 

Here are some of the main benefits of virtual events: 

  • Virtual events generally have a faster turnaround for the setup. Without negotiating space in a conventional in-person venue, printing name badges, coordinating food and beverage, securing hotel blocks, and allowing for enough time for travel for all attending, you can set up a virtual event in a handful of days. With the proper support from your virtual conference platform, you can even turn this around in a handful of hours. We’ve seen a five-day conference be set up starting on Friday, be completed by close of business, and open to attendees on Monday at 8 AM with no issues! 
  • You can future-proof your event by hosting it virtually. Not only are you eliminating any travel concerns for your attendees, speakers, sponsors, or company, but you are also removing most of the external factors that can impact your event. Weather at your venue? Not a problem! Concerns about the safety of your host city? These concerns no longer affect your event. Economic downturn making it hard to secure banners and signs for your event space? It’s all digital, so you no longer need to worry about it!
  • Virtual events are massive profit opportunities. Between ticket types providing flexible ticket charging options, sponsorship packages, increased attendance numbers, and evergreen content, there are many ways to generate vast amounts of profit. It’s important to note that a $200,000 net profit on your virtual event is better for your organization than a $2,000,000 gross revenue on your in-person event when there were $3,500,000 in expenses. Don’t confuse gross revenue for net profit in your rush back to your comfort zone of in-person events. 

As an event organizer, you ensure that your company has the most effective event strategy possible. As such, you must take advantage of all the tools at your disposal, including virtual, hybrid, and in-person events. You can focus on marketing, programming, and improving your event strategy with the right event tech provider. At the same time, they complete the build of your virtual conferences and the virtual component of your hybrid events. 

This can bring on a team of platform experts at a fraction of an FTE cost. Fully Managed, or Done For You, experiences are hands down the best option that you can find for event platforms. 

Your platform doesn’t have a Fully Managed Experience? Why are you still using a platform that can’t provide you with that level of support? At vConferenceOnline, we specialize in that level of support. Click below to schedule a demo today to see how we can help create an incredible virtual conference for your organization while increasing your virtual event revenue.

Before you go – we are giving you one free Fully Managed event with any annual agreement, but only through the end of August. Click below to schedule a demo, see vConferenceOnline in action, and get your free Fully Managed event. We’ll be your support for your event and allow you to focus on other ways that you can be irreplaceable for your organization.