Virtual Event vs Hybrid Event: Key differences

The way this pandemic has hit the events industry has led to the evolution of new modes of hosting events – virtual events and hybrid events. You must have heard these terms at least once in your lifetime. This evolution has proved to be a boon for the event industry. This article acts as both a virtual event guide and a hybrid event guide. It discusses the key differences between virtual and hybrid events.

Understanding Virtual Events and Hybrid Events

Virtual Events

Virtual or online events are events that are conducted online and do not consist of any physical component. Online events can either use pre-recorded content or be live-streamed. You can also use a combination of both recorded events and live streaming. The attendees can join a virtual event by simply entering the event URL in their browser. Online events eliminate the requirement to travel to the event venue. Organizations take the help of a virtual event platform to conduct online events. Opting for a 3D virtual event platform is a great way to let the attendees interact with others and stay engaged. Moreover, you can track the performance of your event and gather real-time attendee feedback.

Advantages of Virtual Events

  • Vast Audience Reach: Virtual events have a wider audience reach as it lets in people who otherwise could not have attended the event, owing to travel restrictions. Unlike physical events, virtual events can accommodate as many attendees as you want. Therefore, hosting virtual events is a great way to widen the audience reach.
  • Allows Data Collection: Hosting events online help you collect detailed information about the attendees and track their footprints throughout the event. This data can provide you with valuable insights into the attendee behaviour. In addition to that, it also helps you keep a track of engagement levels and the overall performance.
  • Cost Savings: Virtual events cost very little as compared to physical events. The cost of hosting a virtual event is a fraction of that of a physical event. The major costs like lodging, renting a venue, travelling and catering are eliminated. Moreover, it also saves the attendees from shelling out their hard-earned money on travelling to the venue.
  • Greater Accessibility: Online events are much more accessible compared to physical events. People who cannot travel to the event location can easily attend the event using their laptops or mobile phones. You can also record the virtual events and allow people to go back and watch them again or at a later date. You must select a digital event platform that has web-based solutions.

Hybrid Events

A hybrid event is a perfect combination or a perfect mix of both virtual and in-person events. These events have both a physical audience and an online audience. While the physical audience is present at the event venue, the virtual audience joins virtually through their laptops and mobile phones. Hybrid events combine the best of both worlds and provide the benefits of both an in-person event and an online event. Hybrid events can be hosted using hybrid event platforms that provide event support for the virtual components. Moreover, hybrid events are a great way to promote interaction among online and in-person attendees.

Advantages of Hybrid Event

  • Increased Engagement: Despite all the benefits of a virtual event, in-person event engagement is still hard to replace. Hybrid events are a great way to attract those attendees who prefer physical events over virtual ones. Moreover, hybrid events can provide the attendees with physical contact to make them feel connected. Having a physical audience helps maintain a balance between physical and virtual components.
  • Wider Audience Reach: Hybrid events let the organizer include the engagement of an in-person event while still being able to expand his customer base. The virtual component of the event allows the organizer to expand its business horizons exponentially. You can make connections with customers from across the world through the virtual model.
  • Increased Brand Visibility: More attendees will automatically result in more brand visibility. You can also consider choosing a virtual event platform that provides dynamic banners functionality. Dynamic banners let you display different brands at the same time.
  • Benefit of AI Matchmaking: Hybrid events can combine the benefits of virtual and physical events. Therefore, it can take the benefit of AI matchmaking to enhance attendee participation.
  • Advanced Data Tracking: Unlike virtual events, physical events cannot track the advanced attendee metrics like the most popular sessions, attendee footprints etc. Hybrid events on the other hand can track and analyze detailed data of the attendees.
  • Reduced Costs: Hybrid events cost relatively less than entirely physical events. Since there is less number of in-person attendees, it results in savings in travelling, lodging and catering costs.

What’s the Difference? Virtual Event vs Hybrid Event

  • While virtual events are held entirely online, hybrid events are hosted both online and offline.
  • While virtual events cannot provide in-person touch and engagement, hybrid events provide the opportunity for physical connection.
  • Both hybrid and virtual events cost less than a physical event, the cost considerations of hybrid events are slightly higher than virtual events.

How to Choose Between Virtual and Hybrid Events?

After finding out about the benefits of both the event formats, choosing one can be confusing. Here are the points to consider before deciding –

Time of the Event: Ask yourself when is the event being held. If the event is being held at a time when covid is at its peak and the government has started imposing lockdowns and travel restrictions, a virtual event would be a better choice and vice versa.

Who Is Attending: Make a list of the attendees ask yourself these questions –

  • Do the attendees prefer a physical or a virtual event?
  • Do your attendees live far from the event venue?
  • How many attendees do you intend to invite?
  • Are you planning to target a remote customer segment through the event?
  • Is tracking advanced attendee metrics one of your event goals?
  • Make your decision depending on the answers to these questions.

Type of Event: The requirement of each event is different. Therefore, you must analyze the needs and requirements for the type of event you are planning to host.


Given the benefits and uniqueness of both hybrid and virtual events, it can be hard to choose one. Follow the above-mentioned points to make a decision.