Over the past 18+ months, we’ve seen a rapid adoption of virtual events. While many of the reasons are painfully obvious (health and safety, travel restrictions), many groups have discovered additional benefits to virtual events, while others can’t wait to meet in-person again.
With so much information surrounding in-person, virtual, and hybrid events, many companies and agencies are wondering what type of meeting will best support their needs.
While we’d love to tell you there is a simple, easy answer, the truth is, many factors will help to determine what meeting type is right for you.
Previous to 2020, live events brought together audiences from across the United States – or even international locations! However, with travel restrictions between different countries frequently changing, it has become more difficult than ever to ensure audiences will be able to easily attend your event.
If all of your attendees will be joining the meeting from a localized area or contained region, meeting in-person becomes much more accessible.
However, if your participants are widely scattered, unpredictable travel delays, restrictions, and safety concerns may make a virtual meeting more predictable, ensuring all participants are able to attend.
There is no question – when audience members are sitting in a darkened room, surrounded by their peers, with nothing but attention-grabbing visuals in front of them and the voices of engaging speakers ringing in their ears, you will capture and retain their attention for a longer period of time.
When considering what event type is right for you, it’s important to think about the time commitment you’re asking of the attendees, the length of the overall meeting, and the necessary length for each session.
Does your event have several sessions where attendees will be listening to lengthy presentations back-to-back? If so, an in-person meeting may be right for you.
Alternatively, does your event have a couple of short sessions with plenty of time between each for breaks or separate activities? In these situations, a virtual event will likely be successfully in keeping them focused and engaged.
Maybe your event falls somewhere in the middle – perhaps there are a few high-interest segments that can be condensed into a few hours a day, while smaller group meetings can be designed flexibly to support the needs of either in-person or virtual attendees. A hybrid event will allow you to effectively engage with audience members, regardless of their in-person or virtual status.
Event purpose & activities
While every factor is crucial in determining which meeting type is right for you, this is arguably the most important. Just as we need to consider how it’s easiest for your participants to meet, we need to consider why they are meeting in the first place.
By design, certain activities will play better in a live environment, while others are more flexible and can be designed to be effective in any medium.
If a large component of your event includes hands-on demos, training, or direct networking, meeting in-person will be much more effective in fulfilling your needs. While demos and training can be completed virtually, tasks that need 1:1 interaction or include hands-on coaching are impossible to replicate virtually. Similarly, tools exist to facilitate virtual networking, but it is less organic and natural than bumping into somebody outside of convention center and networking over a cup of coffee.
Your event needs are obviously important when it comes to choosing the event type – but so are the needs of your participants. You know your audience best – so consider what you know about them and their daily lives to help inform your decision.
Perhaps your participants have expressed a desire to return to in-person events or are already traveling frequently due to work or other obligations. If so, they may feel more comfortable meeting in-person or traveling to a common event location.
However, if your audience members have shared concerns about traveling or meeting in-person, prioritizing their comfort will likely lead to a higher event turn out and participation.
Additionally, your participants may be evenly split, with some able to easily and confidently attend in-person events, while others may be challenged to do so based on their location or other circumstances. In that case, we recommend a hybrid event as a great solution.
As you plan your events for 2022 and beyond, consider the needs of your participants, your goals for the event, and must haves in the event schedule. And if you need any extra help determining what event type is right for you, Encompass is here to help!
To learn more about how Encompass can enhance your event planning process, check out our blog post on How Production Partners Create Value.
At Encompass, we have unique backgrounds that situate us perfectly to produce high end and complex offerings. We’ve worked in broadcast television, touring entertainment, live sporting events, and countless convention facilities across the country.
We have technical design experience and a disciplined process in place that allows us to easily scale events and shift from in-person to virtual without angst. There isn’t much that’s beyond our scope and we love the intensity of putting on events!
If you’re a planner working to create an event, seeking help with virtual event technology, or simply want to learn more … we can help! Sign up for our newsletter (we promise to keep your contact information secure and won’t “overshare”).