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Virtual, Hybrid, and Physical Events: What’s the Difference?

Connection is made through physical contact and close interaction with people. But what happens when celebrations that need physical contact and personal interaction cannot be held anymore? At times like these, hosting an event is something that event organizers need to ponder deeply on. Aside from the fact that physical events are risky, most people might have not fully adjusted to the new normal. So what happens now?

There are a lot of answers to this question. Virtual, hybrid, and physical events all have advantages and disadvantages. The real challenge for you is to know and assess what approach is best for your event. So, what exactly are virtual, hybrid, and physical events? What are the differences? Lastly, what are the pros and cons?

What is a virtual event?

What is a virtual event?
Image credits: unsplash

A virtual event is held online using a platform. Online platforms for video conferencing have immensely increased during the pandemic, thus giving you plenty of options to choose from. In virtual events, attendees do not meet in person nor gather in a single location. Instead, they interact with each other on the web or on the online platform they are using.

The great thing about virtual events is that you can be more creative and innovative with your virtual space. Allowing attendees to change attractive avatars, add interactive displays and themes, and many more makes virtual events fun and engaging. Plus, with virtual events, attendees from far places now have the opportunity to be part of the event. Here are 8 virtual event ideas that can help you bring your virtual events up a notch. 

What you have to consider for virtual events are the chances of technical glitches, internet connectivity issues, and the guest’s ability to use the online platform. In addition to that, you need to make sure that guests will have the best virtual experience. Although it is a fact that nothing can replace physical events, it is important to let the attendees feel that they are connected with one another.

What is a hybrid event?

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A hybrid event is a combination of virtual and physical events. Meaning, guests can attend in person or through an online platform or maybe even both! This gives attendees the best of both worlds. It also provides organizers with plenty of options and opportunities to work with. 

Most countries are now going hybrid in the new normal. Hybrid events give attendees more flexibility as they can choose whether to attend virtually or in person. It also allows organizers to maximize the advantages of virtual and physical events. They can assess what physical or virtual component works best for the event and merge the two. 

Although hybrid events seem to be the best option for now, the preparation is actually a tedious task. You need to think about the physical location and its capacity, plus the technology and platform needed for the virtual. Basically, you have to plan for both!

Pros and Cons for Hybrid Events


Everyone will have more options

There are so many benefits to hybrid events, from having a greater range of choices for attendees and the option to attend in person or virtually. Hybrid events also give people who want an immersive experience with their peers more options too. Attendees can either physically travel halfway around the world if they wish, or stay at home and participate as a virtual delegate instead.

With the emergence of hybrid events, businesses no longer have to be restricted by physical venue space. A virtual opportunity has knocked down all boundaries and encouraged a new way for organizations to earn money. Attendees are now given more choice in who they want to reach out with on an individual level rather than simply aiming for as many attendees as possible at each event (only VIP customers).

Increased Capacity for Attendance

When you make your event accessible online, it enables those people who might otherwise be unable to attend due to travel costs or venue size restrictions. This also gives space for more attendees and therefore increases the amount of money that can go towards charity which is a pro in itself.

The ability to rewatch presentations

With the rise of social media, live streaming and virtual events are becoming more popular. These types of events boost a company’s visibility by allowing people to view content on-demand through their own personal devices. Audiences can also reshare key takeaways with other stakeholders in continuous dialogue which is an excellent way for companies to increase brand awareness on social media platforms.


Technology has made it possible to reduce the need for travel by introducing virtual environments. The biggest additional advantage that this creates is eco-friendly events, which have never been a possibility before now because of how expensive they were and how much work was required in making them happen.


Obtaining sponsorship

With more and more people watching sports digitally, it’s becoming harder to convince sponsors that they’re getting sufficient exposure. However, there are ways around this problem through digital presence such as advertising on social media platforms during the event or even live streaming events online – but these solutions will only work if you have technology-enabled for your event.

Problems with Connectivity

Connectivity issues are a major concern for hybrid events. Just because virtual participants can’t experience the event in person doesn’t mean they’re still not impacted by it—in this case, through annoying lag time and reduced engagement due to their inability to fully participate with those onsite. Some attendees who have high-speed internet connections at home but struggle when connecting from an outside network will avoid these sessions altogether if connection problems occur during the session or immediately following them where connectivity is more variable.

Logistics management

Designers are looking for appropriate technology to make business events more engaging and interesting. Audio, video streaming connections that allow high bandwidth with low latency are a must at venues organising international delegates or where there will be large audiences in attendance. When it comes to catering to the needs of all attendees who want great sound quality, wireless lavalier microphones appear best on camera and minimise ambient noise as people move around during an event while minimizing any interference from other devices like cellphones which can create feedback loops if they’re too close by.

Change is never easy

Attendees at hybrid events have the opportunity to experience new and different things, but this also means that they will be forced into many uncomfortable situations. This is because when it comes to these types of events there are no guarantees on what changes might happen! Organizations must weigh their options carefully before hosting a hybrid event in order not to put themselves or others out unnecessarily.

What is a physical event?

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A physical event is held in a single physical location and attendees can connect and interact in person. This is probably one of the easiest events to organize and this gives the attendees the “physical touch” and the connection they need.

Seeing people in person after spending so much screen time makes physical events much more fun and memorable. Nothing can replace the connection made between friends and family when you actually get to see them. With physical events, activities and celebrations are easier and more festive.

Although physical events are something people are more accustomed to, physical events are actually more expensive compared to virtual and hybrid events. With the pandemic, you need to consider a lot of things such as the location’s capacity, its geographic location, the number of attendees, and distancing protocols. In addition to that, the access to some immediate needs are also limited.

What works best?

As mentioned above, virtual, hybrid, and physical events have different pros and cons. All you have to do is think it through and assess what will work best for your event. If you’re feeling lost as to how to host virtual events, check out our resources like our Virtual Events Checklist or Our Ultimate Guide to Virtual Conferences and Trade Shows in 2021 here.

Delegate PLAY – An immersive virtual platform putting all uncertainty to an end

While the global events industry recovers and prepares itself for the new normal, it is the perfect time to look at best-in-class digital technologies to address client needs and preferences. To this effect, the recently launched Delegate PLAY is a game changer, enabling vendors to seamlessly host events and build connections. Delegate PLAY is a fully immersive virtual environment which allows users to host online conferences and exhibitions under one integrated platform. Event organisers, sponsors and attendees are therefore able to sync up and network in an online virtual environment, transforming a traditionally offline experience into an online format. To read more about it, click here.

Delegate PLAY helps optimize your events ROI by offering innovative features like custom virtual fairgrounds, real-time audience participation and engagement tracking, accessing events on the go from any device, and unlimited content without any geographical restrictions.

Planning your virtual event on Delegate PLAY? We would love to help make your virtual event a smashing success. For more information or a demo of Delegate PLAY, feel free to contact us via the form below. We promise to get in touch with you in a jiffy.

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