In-person vs. virtual event: Which type should I host?
If the past 18 months have taught us anything, it’s that things can be pretty darn tricky to predict. Planning an event, especially large corporate events, has always been challenging. But throw in circumstances beyond your control, and it can be downright grueling. But now that things are beginning to stabilize and people are yearning to attend live events, many planners are asking themselves, “Should I plan a virtual or in-person corporate event?” So let’s take a look at the benefits of each and which event types lend themselves to in-person or virtual.
Comparing in-person vs. virtual events (and the newly created hybrid event)
Whether networking, celebrating, learning or bonding, in-person corporate events have always been the preferred way of meeting. We all know that body language is a huge part of communication, and while digital platforms have come a long way, this form of communication is still most effective in person. Whether you are selling or celebrating, we want to be together and feel the energy of others. So in-person events, for many, will remain the top method of connecting with others.
Here are a few compelling statistics, compliments of The National Press Club:
95% of those surveyed say meetings are essential for building long-term relationships
77% prefer in-person conferences that lead to social interactions & bonding.
Platforms like Zoom and WebEx have been around for quite some time, and for a good reason. They are the ideal way to meet with others, regardless of location, and have a visual connection without traveling. Fast forward to March 2020, and it became the SOLE way of connecting and doing business. And while not always the perfect solution, these virtual platforms offer some significant benefits when it comes to hosting an event:
Cost-Effective, which means more people can attend
Easier to plan as compared to in-person events, which means less lead time
More immune to a variety of uncontrollable events. Whether cases increase or air travel is delayed, your virtual event can still go on with minimal disruption.
Ask a meeting planner in 2019 their thoughts on hosting a hybrid event, and you probably would have gotten a blank stare. But, fast forward two years and these have become the event du jour for a good reason. They offer the benefits of both in-person and virtual with little downside. Want to meet in person? No problem! Limited on time or funds but still want to be part of the experience? We’ve got you covered. Hybrid events can reach the greatest number of people and offer a multitude of meeting options to your attendees.
Many industry experts agree that the hybrid solution is here to stay and will become the future of professional and corporate events. For example, a recent study by Duarte Inc, based in Santa Clara, CA, found that nearly 75% of respondents like virtual presentations because it offers greater reach to include a broader audience and is more convenient.
Ultimately, the type of event you decide to host will be, in part, determined by what you want to accomplish. If the objective is to engage with a new client, pitch your product or service for the first time, connect with your team members or celebrate an important event, in person will always be preferred. But if the goal is to educate, share information, conduct ongoing business, or cross-collaborate, these events can be effectively done over virtual platforms. Or perhaps you’ll offer your attendees the choice and simply go hybrid.
Read our event planning checklist to ensure a successful celebration for your next event.