Recent news announcements see many restrictions likely to ease as planned from the 19th July. This is a welcome relief for many within the events industry who have truly struggled due to the restrictions put in place by the government.

Adaptable as we are, however, many of us took to virtual and hybrid events to stay connected while awaiting the reopening. Event planners became well-versed in all things virtual as we discovered a ‘new normal’ for events and the benefits of hosting virtually were felt first-hand by many.

With live events already seeing a return in the UK, a very common question arises amongst many event planners… Which type of event is best for me? There are, of course, a number of deciding factors when you come to tackle this question, but ultimately the event type you choose will need to be chosen based on its ability to fulfil your event’s main purpose.

Take a look below at some of the major deciding factors that will need to be addressed for you to create a successful and engaging event, suitable for your needs.

1. How big is your audience?

The size of your audience will have some bearing on what type of event you go for, especially if you’re planning your event sooner rather than later. As the government guidelines stand in the UK (June 2021), live, indoor events must adhere to the following capacity caps: 1,000 people or 50% of an indoor venue’s capacity, whichever is lowest and 4,000 people or 50% of an outdoor site or venue’s capacity, whichever is lowest.

Therefore, if you’re looking to do a large-scale event, and soon, we would recommend looking at virtual or hybrid events. Both types of events allow you to work with much bigger audiences, with virtual platforms being able to host anywhere from a few hundred to 10s of thousands of attendees. Of course, different virtual platforms can handle varying sizes of audience and you will also need to consider the additional facilities you will need to create a successful event. For example, with larger audiences it’s important to have interactive facilities so all attendees feel connected and engaged.

With hybrid events, you can still have a live audience present, meaning you can adhere to current government caps as well as venue capacity whilst still offering a live event atmosphere.

Once all restrictions are out of the way, virtual and hybrid events will likely still have their place due to their flexibility when it comes to audience size. With a virtual or hybrid event you are able to increase your event’s reach by overcoming travelling time and cost, location constraints and even time zone challenges with pre-recorded and on-demand content.

2. Where is your audience located?

Similar to the audience size, where your audience is located will also help you decide what type of event you’ll need. If you’re hoping to access a global audience, often virtual and hybrid events are the most suitable. This not only allows you to take into consideration time zones, it also provides a greener alternative to travel and reduces cost for transportation.

Virtual and hybrid events are particularly useful at the moment for connecting people in a safe way when there are still safety precautions which come with getting attendees together from all different parts of the world.

It’s not only your audience that you should consider when thinking about location, but also your speakers. If you use a virtual or live event as your medium you open yourself up to many more possibilities when it comes to speakers. You can afford to consider speakers from different parts of the country, or the world, that will be able to dial-in remotely and host a segment of your event. This means you can pick highly relevant, inspirational speakers that will really excite your audience and encourage participation and attendance.

3. What is your budget?

Cost can be minimised when events are hosted on virtual platforms. You can save on transportation, venue costs, food and beverage, tech production and, in some cases, speakers.  This means you can conserve budget for different aspects of your event, for example, some virtual event hosts send around small gift baskets relevant to the event to add a personal touch to their event and encourage attendance.

If your budget isn’t an issue, however, live and hybrid events can be most effective in engaging your audience and relaying complex information. Therefore, if you’re planning on hosting an employee training conference, or an event where a lot of information needs to be absorbed effectively, live or hybrid events may be the best option for you.

4. What is your turnaround time?

If you need an event in a short turnaround time, virtual is likely the best option for you. Providing you are able to create the content to a high-standard and organise your agenda, virtual events are an effective way to create events in a short amount of time.

That said, the further out from your event that you start planning, the better your event will likely be. We recommend planning your event from 5-6 months out, that way you’ll be sure to have enough time to cover all aspects of the event, and a little contingency time if it’s needed.

5. What are the pros and cons of each type of event?

Live Events

Live events have been the chosen medium for most events for a very long time. There is no substitute for live events which enables speakers and attendees to communicate and connect with one another than live, face-to-face events.

If you’re looking to create a small to mid-scale event that involves the attendees absorbing complex and important information, as well as audience collaboration and interaction, a live event is likely the best type of event for you.

However, live events aren’t always the most cost-effective and can be time consuming. In fact, now event planners are more familiar with virtual event platforms, we’ve been seeing event durations decrease. Some planners who were looking to hold a live event over a couple of days were able to optimise their content for online and reduce the event duration dramatically. This also helps attendance as your event is no longer difficult to travel to, or too much of a time commitment.

Virtual Events

If you’re looking to save time and money, virtual events offer a flexible and robust solution. Virtual events lend themselves well to panel discussions, informative events, or Q&A formats, but make sure your platform is suitable for interactivity and quick communication to keep your audience engaged.

If you’re event is attracting a global audience, virtual events offer on-demand, easily accessible content for those who may be on different time zones than you.

Hybrid Events

Hybrid events are often coined the best of both worlds. If you’re hosting a fairly localised event but are hoping to attract more attendees from further afield, hybrid events allow you to maintain the atmosphere of a live event, while benefiting from the global reach of a virtual event.

Hybrid events offer a flexibility like none other. Attendees are given the choice to attend in-person or online, therefore allowing you to cater for those who are a little cautious and may not be ready to attend in-person events, and those who benefit from sitting in front of live speakers. This convenience also allows you to reach attendees who may not have been able to make the live show due to time and travel constraints.

Conclusion

For a fast turnaround and conserving budget, virtual events are your go-to. If you’re looking for a wider reach and to offer greater flexibility and convenience to both your attendees and your speakers, hybrid events are extremely versatile and will accommodate your needs. If your goal is to teach your audience something complex where collaboration and interactivity is needed for them to learn properly, live events are unbeatable.

That said, as a diligent event planner, your audience’s safety is no doubt your number one priority, just like ours. If you’re unsure on how to host a live event within the current restrictions or would like some advice on what kind of event to run, please get in contact with us! We’d be more than happy to help.

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