a virtual meeting on a laptop

What is the difference between a hybrid event and virtual event?

Virtual Events

Virtual Events are precisely that, an online event with virtual attendees. They are utilizing top technology and innovation to get a clear message across.  In the past year, it’s become the new normal.  The 2020 pandemic created an extremely high demand for virtual events.  Travel came to a ceasing halt, and zoom became a hot commodity with quarantine and stay-at-home orders in place.  However, as with any new trend, virtual events are beginning to progress, the engaging content and production value are in dire need more than ever

Virtual events are not new to the event industry, in fact they have been around for years. It’s just now, for the first time, we are really taking note of them and how many there are out there.

Hybrid Events

As stay-at-home orders are lifted and vaccines are more readily available, hybrid events increase in popularity.  While they have a virtual event component, they also have attendees who experience the content live, like we all did before the pandemic hit, in a ballroom, or wherever it is you may be hosting your meeting.  Masks, maximum occupancy limits, and social distancing may be required depending on your destinations and mandates, but hosting a hybrid event means you will have a live audience with you at your destination, and the virtual attendees watching live will be able to answer questions live. As a result, your virtual attendees will feel like they are in the room with everyone else.  This is the most important aspect when hosting a viral event is to make sure your virtual attendees are treated to the same experience as the in-person audience.  That means outstanding production value, seamless broadcasting and will add another element to your planning schedule.

Are you looking to host virtual or Hybrid events? Van Wagner’s producers and technical staff will partner with your team to develop high quality presentations and engagement of your event contact us for help.

Benefits – Going Virtual

women taking notes in virtual event

No more dealing with registration or complaints that the ballroom is too hot or too cold.  When you go virtual, you need to make sure you have a secure connection and a seamless broadcasting experience, with no dogs barking and no speakers accidentally on mute.  The benefit of having a virtual event is you can reach a broader audience.  Globally, the sky’s the limit.  It may be challenging to determine a specific time of day to host your event if multiple time zones are joining, but you can always record the sessions and leave them for people to view on your virtual platform at any point and time.  Pre-recorded sessions are highly recommended for virtual events.  Even if you pre-record the keynote and dress him/her in the same clothes for the live conference to answer questions after, you make it look like the speech was “live,” ensuring nothing interrupts the critical message.

With a virtual event, you can have speakers from all over, ask questions in real-time, and receive integral data on your event’s aspects.  How many people attended a specific breakout, which topic seemed well-received, and what session were your attendees most engaged with.  You can mold your next event off of all the information you will receive back from your online event.  How many attendees fill out those post-event surveys?  With a virtual event, your survey will already be conducted by your viral attendees’ actions.  Costs will go down significantly since there are no hotels, transportation, or food & beverage needed for a virtual event. You’ll even be helping the planet by reducing your carbon footprint.  However, you want to make sure you are in the best hands for streaming your content live with high-end production and with producers that can assist with keeping your virtual attendees engaged with exciting and innovative content.  Partner with experienced event producers, preferably those with virtual and hybrid experience, and it also doesn’t hurt if they are award-winning, to ensure a perfect program to get your message across without any buffering or internet disruptions.

Benefits-Going Hybrid

The benefits of a hybrid event are evolving rapidly.  If something disastrous were to occur with so many uncertainties, another pandemic, extreme weather, or a natural disaster, you have the virtual component already lined up for your event.  If attendee’s travel restrictions are lifted at the last minute and they decide they want to travel, you have on-site options available for a live audience.  Or suppose the opposite occurs and an in-person attendee has something come up or even tests positive for covid upon arrival. In that case, they can check into their room, self-quarantine, and still attend your conference (if they are symptom-free and feeling alright) virtually, and some hotels will even stream their sessions straight to their TVs in case some attendees want to watch some of the sessions from the comfort of their hotel room. And they are unable to attend, then they can log on virtually or view all the recorded sessions at a later date and time.

Hybrid vs. Virtual

Women running an online event

Whether you decide to go entirely virtual or hybrid is up to you.  It depends mainly on the circumstances of the event and your target audience.  The world is changing, occasions are changing, and sometimes change can be a good thing.  We also know it can drive everyone crazy for a short time while figuring out the new norm.

At the end of the day, nothing can replace the past.  The good times were you attended an uplifting general session, informative and educational breakouts, afterward you experienced an exquisite lunch, sometimes in an exotic location, returned for a motivational keynote speaker, and danced with your colleagues all night at the reception.  There is no duplicate meeting for the one-on-one coffee breaks, the lobby bar happy hours, the face-to-face meetings, and team building adventures.  There are some instances where we can’t re-create what we did before Covid happened.  But we can try our best to adjust to the world around us and duplicate that same feeling we used to have when attending events in the past.  Through virtual and hybrid event experiences, we can still gather safely, get our message across and break new barriers when it comes to technology and innovation. Don’t keep holding off your event to see what happens next.  Go virtual, or go hybrid, you can’t go wrong with either.  Your attendees will be happy you did!

Are you looking for help to product top quality virtual or hybrid events? Have a look at Van Wagner’s services.

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