Over the past fifteen months, event marketers have thrown all they have at virtual events. Working tirelessly to bridge the gap between value-adding personal relationships and a virtual connection was not easy, but it paid off for many. Virtual events have emerged as a new foundational strategic objective for many marketing teams, and even though in-person events are coming back with a bang, there is no end in sight for the virtual channel.
For many, the new era of events is shaping up to be a mix – or a hybrid – of in-person and virtual event elements. There are plenty of benefits associated with each type of event, as well as a few challenges.
Whether you’re a marketing team leader looking for strategic insight or an on-the-ground event marketer trying to expand your event scope, here are some pros and cons for in-person, virtual, and hybrid events:
- Offer a unique experience to attendees
- Allow salespeople to forge connections and move deals through the pipeline faster
- Are the perfect place for networking between sales, customers, and prospects
- Create great opportunities for brand awareness through giveaways and swag
- Make it easy to collect attendee data and background information
- Open up attendee options to a larger audience of people
- Organically build evergreen content through video, social, and other platforms
- Are traditionally cheaper to execute than in-person events and do not require traveling expenses
- Combine the in-person engagement and unique experience of in-person events with the online reach and ease of virtual events
- Can be developed for more people across different buyer or attendee profiles (aka local and remote attendees)
- Take the most impactful parts of both in-person and virtual events into account to build the ultimate event marketing experience
- Require extensive budget approval for travel, booth setup, merchandise, dinners, etc.
- Can alienate potential attendees who may not be ready for in-person events or traveling yet
- Don’t always allow for accurate attendee data collection from conversations
- Are confined to the finite time period of the event itself without creating evergreen content
- Can’t provide the physical in-person engagement many prospects are looking for from new vendors
- Rely heavily on technology and third-party platforms to execute flawlessly
- Make it easy for registrants to not attend or leave early with little control
- May require substantial planning and strategic effort beforehand to execute across multiple platforms and channels
The bottom line
It’s hard to replace in-person connections with virtual platforms, regardless of how great the technology is. But, the lower cost of virtual events can help supplement some more significant picture items at in-person events. For at least the next few months, the bottom line is that virtual events are the best way for event marketers to get back into the full swing of events without sacrificing safety or budget.