In-Person vs. Virtual vs. Hybrid: How to Choose Your Event Format in 2022

March 28, 2022

Slowly, we have adjusted to the new normal brought by COVID, and so have our events and social gatherings. The past two years have shown that, with technology and planning, we can keep corporate engines running. Virtual events took over, reaching thousands of people worldwide.. But as society begins to ease back into pre-COVID norms, event planners and corporations face a problem – do we return to physical events or go entirely virtual? It’s an important question that we’re prepared to help you answer.

IN-PERSON FORMAT

Not all events can happen online, so in-person events are slowly becoming popular again. Physical events are best when you have a sizable fraction of your total audience willing to travel to the venue. This may be quite challenging for participants, with COVID restrictions, hotel and travel costs often limiting international travel. Physical events require a lot of resources, so you should ensure that the rewards are more than the costs. 

Here are some of the pros and cons of in-person events:

PROS

  • Face-to-face, personal connection
  • Opportunity to form new relationships and build confidence
  • Limited distractions 

CONS

  • Requires additional costs in planning and logistics 
  • Excludes participants from distant places 
  • Limited reach

VIRTUAL FORMAT

Virtual events are suited for large audiences spread over the globe. Some participants may not be able to travel to the venue, and virtual events allow them to participate and contribute. When organizing a virtual event, you need a good A/V partner who’s experienced at holding these events. Also, ensure that you have great content to keep your audience engaged. 

Here are a few of the pros and cons of virtual events:

PROS

  • Fewer financial costs
  • No COVID risk
  • Wider reach 
  • More inclusivity for distant participants and facilitators 

CONS

  • Eliminates face-to-face interaction 
  • May be less engaging 
  • Subject to network fluctuations

HYBRID FORMAT

Hybrid events combine the benefits of in-person and online events. They ensure that participants who can make the trip get an in-person experience, while those living far away do not miss out on the program. Before running a hybrid event, ensure you have the resources to engage with both kinds of participants. Additionally, it would be best to have sizable physical and online audiences to justify the extra effort.

Here are some of the pros and cons of online events:

PROS

  • Greater flexibility 
  • Ability to engage participants maximally 
  • Minimized COVID risk 
  • Amplifies the experience 

CONS

  • Higher costs 
  • Requires more planning 
  • Limited platform options

DIRECT COMPARISON TABLE

Here is a comparison of the key features of each kind of meeting:

IN-PERSONVIRTUAL HYBRID
CostHigher costs. Low costs per session. Depends on platform. Price varies with platform and arrangement. 
SetupRequires extensive planning and logistics. Easy to plan and organize. Requires extensive planning to set up. 
AccessLess accessible to people from distant locations. Easy to access with a working internet. Easy to access remotely, or on-site. 
ReachLimited reach compared to virtual and hybrid events. Global reach. Participants can join from all parts of the world. Wide reach. Participants can join from all parts of the world. 
EngagementImmersive, due to human connections.Less engaging than in-person events. Highly immersive. Participants can navigate both online and offline environments. 
SafetyVariable, depending on planning. COVID-Safe. Relatively safe. 

IN-PERSON VS VIRTUAL VS HYBRID: OUR EXPERT OPINION ON HOW TO CHOOSE

We believe that, whatever option you choose, your participants and speakers should have a great experience. This brief guide gives you a few tips for navigating your choices:

IN-PERSON

Although virtual and hybrid sessions have replaced many physical events, in-person meetings are still present. Corporations still recognize the value of personal interactions. However, we’re still in the COVID era, so physical events need adequate planning. 

Consider your audience, speakers, and the goal of the event. Are there sessions (games, Q&A, special content) that require physical presence? Do your speakers have to come from distant locations or are they relatively close? Can your team ensure that safety protocols are in place to protect participants? Ensure you have satisfactory answers to these questions before moving on.

VIRTUAL

Virtual events offer multiple advantages when handled well. With the ability to have participants tune in from their homes or offices, they allow more flexibility and improved convenience. Additionally, they make it easy to record sessions. This way, you can have a permanent record for future reference or for sale. To maximize your event, ensure that it will thrive virtually. 

Consider the activities – will they require on-site participation? Consider the participants – how many would be able to make the trip to a physical event? If the participants are spread out globally, a virtual event might be your best choice. Also, communicate with your speakers beforehand. Are they comfortable with a virtual audience, or do they need some adjustment? Resolve these crucial details before embarking on a virtual session.

HYBRID

Hybrid events are becoming popular as corporations and event planners realize they can combine the best of both worlds. But organizing them can be pretty tricky. Before holding one, you should be sure that this type is the best option for you. 


Look at the participants – do you have an audience for physical and virtual sessions? Many hybrid sessions have been marred by problems such as low audio and video glitches. To avoid these, your technology should be excellent – it should integrate the physical and online speakers and audiences. Additionally, ensure your speakers are comfortable speaking to two audiences without feeling overwhelmed. Hybrid events can be very rewarding with the right approach and planning.

SOME TOOLS TO GIVE YOUR AUDIENCE THE BEST EXPERIENCE AT YOUR EVENTS 

At Performedia, we’re passionate about helping you get the best out of your events. Here are some of the tools we offer to give you and your participants an immersive experience: 

  • Event registration system

Event planners need to know how many people to budget for to plan and execute events properly. Performedia’s event registration system seamlessly collects all the necessary information, making it easy for you to cater to your participants. 

  • On-site A/V and video capture 

An essential benefit of events is using them as valuable resources. Performedia has seasoned video capture experts to help you capture high-quality videos of your events. This way, you can return to the event in the future to pick up important quotes or sell recordings of sessions to clients remotely.

  • Immersive virtual content environments 

Performedia is experienced at giving your virtual attendees that ‘front seat experience.’ With our immersive tools and technologies such as gamification and online booths, navigation becomes effortless. We ensure your virtual attendees never feel left out of the picture. 

  • Extensive analytics 

Data is an important component of the 21st-century industry. It allows event organizers to plan appropriately and improve their results. Our extensive analytics tools help you convert raw data into useful information that helps you assess and improve your performance.