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Live, Virtual or Hybrid Events: Which Should You Choose?

Published on May 24, 2022 • Updated on December 7, 2022 • About 9 min. read

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Live event inside auditorium

Events can be a major asset for any business, especially if you’re part of a marketing or sales team. That said, the event landscape is changing, and there are many different ways to host a successful event in 2022.

Your next event needs to be a hit, and you’re worried there is not enough time to host traditional in-person events in the digital age. But what is a hybrid event? And how do you go about hosting a virtual one?

In this post, you’ll find out the pros and cons of live, virtual, and hybrid events, which is best for your business, and how to get prepared. Let’s get started.

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6 Email Templates for Successful Virtual Events
6 Email Templates for Successful Virtual Events
Templates Templates

6 Email Templates for Successful Virtual Events

Access these 6 email templates to learn everything you need to know to write performing emails for your virtual events and make them a success.

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Live vs. virtual vs. hybrid events: what’s the difference?

Here are the three types of events you could use in your engagement funnel:

  • Live and in-person events take place in real-time with speakers and audience members all in the same physical location.
  • Virtual events, like webinars, take place 100% online using video conferencing software to connect speakers and audience members remotely.
  • Hybrid events combine an in-person element with some virtual attendees or even virtual speakers participating via livestream.
Camera filming virtual event

Live, virtual or hybrid event: Things to consider

OK, so how do you choose which type of event is best for your business? There are a few things to consider.

  • Your attendees. Who are they, and how would they prefer to attend? If you’re offering training to employees of a multinational remote company, an online event is the best way to make sure everyone can attend.
  • Your format. Hosting a charity auction? A live event will give audience members opportunities to browse auction items and interact with charity reps, making them more inclined to make a purchase.
  • Your budget. Is the sky the limit? In that case, a hybrid event is for you because you can maximize engagement without worrying about equipment costs. If money is tight, go for a virtual event to dodge venue hire and travel expenses.
  • Your timeline. Do you have a year to plan this thing or just a week? Tight deadlines mean online is the only option. Video conferencing software like Livestorm lets you set up events in minutes.
  • Your KPIs. What are your event goals? If reaching the broadest possible audience is a priority, go for hybrid. People will be free to attend in the way that interests them, plus you’ll be able to record the event to distribute it even further after the fact.
6 Email Templates for Successful Virtual Events
6 Email Templates for Successful Virtual Events
Templates Templates

6 Email Templates for Successful Virtual Events

Access these 6 email templates to learn everything you need to know to write performing emails for your virtual events and make them a success.

Read more

What are live events' pros and cons?

95% of marketers think a physical event could help their business achieve its goals, according to a report by Blizzabo. That’s one big reason to incorporate live events into your strategy. Here are a few more.

The pros

  • Build anticipation. Live events provide an opportunity to escape the office or just experience something new, which can increase audience attendance and satisfaction.
  • Encourage networking. Many people find it easier to quickly form organic bonds with others at an in-person event.
  • Create an atmosphere. Speakers, in particular, find face-to-face events have a special kind of atmosphere created through physical cues.

The cons

  • Extra logistics. From sourcing and setting up equipment to ensuring the venue meets fire safety and accessibility standards, in-person events come with a huge organizational responsibility.
  • Greater costs. Live events are expensive to host and attend due to venue hire, travel expenses, and catering costs.
  • Barriers to attending. Many people skip live events because they don’t believe their disabilities will be taken into consideration or because they have other responsibilities that limit their free time.
  • High ecological impact. When attending in-person events, people expect two things: refreshments and freebies. But that can lead to unnecessary waste, not to mention the greater carbon footprint caused by transportation.

Best for

Live events are best for occasions with celebratory or performance elements, where an in-person audience and shared physical experience are crucial for the atmosphere. For example, concerts and awards ceremonies are best experienced in person.

How to do it

  1. Be prepared. Research venues, speakers, catering, and transportation in advance.
  2. Get a marketing strategy. To max ticket sales, brainstorm some social media promotion ideas.
  3. Source equipment. Don’t leave it too late to gather physical resources like name badges, mics, and lighting.
Livestorm invitation to virtual event

Cost rating

High cost. Start budgeting well in advance and do your research to find out if a live event is affordable for your business.

What are virtual events pros and cons?

Since the major boom in working from home, the pros and cons of virtual events have become even more apparent.

Despite reports of “Zoom fatigue”, virtual events remain pretty popular among attendees. In 2022, 75% of event attendees said they’ll attend virtual events even when in-person events are available, according to Kaltura.

The pros

  • Superfast setup. You can set up a virtual event in just a few clicks. And automated webinars make it even easier to plan regular low-effort events.
  • Lower costs. Digital resources like presentation slides and e-books are inexpensive compared to print-outs and physical booklets. And you can forget venue hire and travel costs.
  • Greater analytics. A strong virtual event platform like Livestorm automatically processes data to populate sleek reporting dashboards and give you a clear picture of the event’s success.
  • Fewer barriers. Without travel implications or a major time commitment, virtual events can be more accessible. Plus your event can’t be ruined by bad weather!
  • Lower ecological impact. Compared to in-person events, which can generate a lot of waste and carbon emissions, virtual events can be the “greener” option.

The cons

  • Limited networking. Some people prefer in-person networking and find it challenging to engage with other audience members online. But huddle rooms can help bring people together and break the ice.
  • Fear of technical issues. It happens, sometimes connection problems strike and attendees get frustrated. But a little forward-planning will help you anticipate errors, and using a browser-based platform like Livestorm allows attendees to join with just 1-click.
  • Risk of distractions. You might find attendees are less focused if joining on the go, from noisy coffee shops, or while the kids are home. Make the most of engagement features like Q&As and emoji reactions to capture their attention.

Best for

Online events are great for imparting complex knowledge or encouraging sales. Good virtual event software should allow for screen sharing, presentations, polling, and Q&A upvoting. Great virtual event examples include educational webinars, training courses, and client onboarding.

How to do it

  1. Choose the right software. Pick a virtual event platform like Livestorm that offers automated promotional tools, engagement features, and data analytics.
  2. Plan your content. You’ll want to keep to time and keep your audience focused, so plan your content to the minute and include opportunities for audience interaction.
  3. Source equipment. For ultra-professional virtual events, make sure you have a powerful video conferencing camera.
Livestorm customs virtual event landing page

Cost rating

  • Low cost. Since you won’t have all the extra costs of a physical event, your budget can be spent on important things like reliable software and interesting speakers.

What are hybrid events pros and cons?

More marketers are trying out a hybrid events platform, finding there’s a huge scope to increase their revenue. You won’t be lacking event partnerships either, since 72% of sponsors would be interested in supporting hybrid events, according to AIM Group International.

The pros

  • On-demand replay. It’s easy to record your webcast. Plus, remote audiences might find a hybrid event recording more appealing than a traditional on-demand webinar.
  • Gated content. Like with virtual event recordings, you’ll gain a valuable resource that your customers might be willing to pay for.
  • Broadest possible audience. Your attendee list just doubled since there’s more flexibility for audience members to attend in the way that suits them.
  • Best of both worlds. Get all the atmosphere and excitement of a live event while benefiting from software features like automated recordings, virtual engagement, and dashboard analytics.

The cons

  • The most logistics. You’ll have all the considerations of a live event, plus the need to source and set up livestreaming equipment and plan a virtual-friendly event.
  • Technical issues. It’s possible that in-person attendees will get frustrated if you need to pause to resolve technical issues for your remote audience.
  • Risk of a siloed experience. It can be difficult to achieve a totally integrated hybrid event, where both in-person and virtual audiences can cross-inhabit each space and feel equally included.
  • Disengaged virtual audience. Some event organizers make the mistake of prioritizing their in-person audience and forget to let their virtual audience participate in Q&As.

Best for

Hybrid events are best for creating wide-reaching, accessible, evergreen content. Examples of great hybrid events include keynote speeches and discussion panels that form part of a series, convention, or festival.

Co-workers joining hybrig event

How to do it

  1. Prepare to livestream. There are some free streaming methods like Instagram Live, but only a dedicated virtual event platform will have the engagement and reporting options for a professional event.
  2. Create the space. Book a venue that’s well suited to event recording. You’ll need to take lighting, backdrops, and mics into account as well as mobile devices for interacting with the virtual audience.
  3. Get a moderator. Event hosts should be free to support speakers and engage the live audience. Get a moderator to help you manage the virtual audience and make them feel included.

Cost rating

Highest cost. Hybrid events come with all the expense of a live event, plus additional recording equipment and staffing considerations.

Live vs virtual vs hybrid events: Which should you choose?

Now you know the pros and cons of live vs virtual vs in-person events. All three event formats have their charm, but the one you choose should cater to your specific business needs and event KPIs.

Hosting virtual events is the simplest and most cost-effective option, especially if your aim is to educate or train your audience. Choose a video engagement platform like Livestorm to benefit from features like presentation sharing, Q&A upvotes, and polling, as these will keep your audience super focused.

That said, live events are a great opportunity to build excitement, provide networking opportunities, and create lasting memories for your audience.

But if your budget is large and you want to max out your reach, hybrid is the way to go. Hybrid events reach the largest audience and provide opportunities to maximize revenue and build a bank of valuable resources.

No matter the format, all events are a great addition to your marketing strategy. You’ll create a customer pipeline, increase brand awareness, and encourage your audience to engage with your business offering and feel part of a community.

Frequently asked questions about live vs virtual vs hybrid events

What's the difference between hybrid and virtual?

Virtual events happen 100% online, while hybrid events may allow speakers or audience members to gather in the same physical location. At hybrid events, livestreaming software is used to make the event available to a virtual audience.

Do people prefer virtual or in-person events?

42% of virtual attendees who would have preferred an in-person event said they would still repeat the experience of attending an online event, according to Blizzabo.

However, event attendees typically have different reasons for attending virtual events over physical events and vice versa. Therefore there isn’t necessarily a more popular format.

Can virtual events replace in-person experience?

Virtual events may never directly replace face-to-face experiences, but the best online events can actually enhance the event experience with the right use of engagement tools like automated Q&As, polls, emoji reactions and breakout rooms.

Why are virtual events better than in-person events?

Some business models will benefit more from adding virtual events to their marketing strategy. Here are the main benefits of virtual events:

  • Cost-effective for lower budgets
  • More accessible to a wider audience
  • Fast and flexible for organizers
  • Comprehensive data analysis and reporting
  • Good for sharing complex information
6 Email Templates for Successful Virtual Events
6 Email Templates for Successful Virtual Events
Templates Templates

6 Email Templates for Successful Virtual Events

Learn more