COVID 19 has forced most of us in the event world to pivoting into the virtual world in order to keep our businesses alive.  For some the transition might have been easy as webinars, and live streaming of events was something they had been doing before.  However for a large number of us, this was a new world, venturing into the unknown, and being very unsure of how to make it work.

Taking stock almost 24 months later, we have become much more comfortable with the technology, some of us even experts, however we still yearn for the day when the tried and proven In-Person events, where we can touch, see and feel our audiences.  The question though is: Is it an Either OR?

Lets do a simple comparison of each.

 

 

 

Cost-Effectiveness

One of the best parts of an in-person event is visiting a new city or region. It is exciting, allowing the discovery of new cultures and places, and meeting new people physically can really create great bonds, however it can be extremely costly for both the organizer and the attendee. There are other significant costs in-person events which also bring about extra costs such as:

  • Renting event space
  • Hiring staff and caterers
  • Booking live entertainment
  • Paying for employee travel costs
  • Putting up speakers/entertainers up in hotels

While you may still have to do some of these for a virtual event, the options are usually less costly than the in-person as you rent less space and have many more people, there is little or no catering, and speakers and entertainers charge less for virtual events.

Flexibility

The flexibility provided by Virtual is a big advantage. The ability to provide access to attendees who could not attend the event at the stated time opens the opportunity for many additional people to view the recorded sessions at a later, more convenient time, while an in-person event is done, when it’s done. Another advantage is the ability for attendees to view sessions/presentations which they might not have had the chance to at an in-person event, if those activities happen. This continuing growth of attendees provides a greater ROI for the organizer.

Networking and Social Events

Of course, when it comes to networking in-person events wins hands down.  Face to Face interface, looking someone in the eye when speaking to them, a handshake or any other personal interactions can never be replaced in the virtual world.  The in-person connection builds a layer of relationship and opens communication angles that far supersedes speaking online.

Mass Data Collection

Collecting and monitoring data at in-person events, can prove difficult as it may involve having many additional staff to actually collect this information and many times the results can be in-accurate. Virtual events, on the other hand, are master data-miners and many trails are left by the attendees which can then be analyzed to learn more about who attends the event and how you might better serve them in the future.

We are all social beings. We thrive on in person connections and interactions, and while on paper the virtual event seems to offer several more advantages, we all want to get back together. No one can deny that the energy and enjoyment generated by being physically around your friends, family and other people, cannot be replaced or even imitated in a virtual event.  But does it have to be and Either Or?  Why not welcome back all the things we love with our in-person events and still enjoy the benefits offered by virtual events

Enter Hybrid Events

Hybrid events combine virtual events with in-person events and organizers can get the best of both worlds when using this strategy.  So our final answer to this question is, don’t let it be “Either Or”, reap the best of each option by combining them.  At Touchstone we can help you with your virtual, and in-person events and look out for more information from us when we discuss the best practices for hosting a Hybrid event.

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