We have always understood what it means to meet in-person for live, face to face meetings and events, but in the past ten months we have been quickly introduced to some new buzz words within our industry. Virtual Meetings and Hybrid Meetings are the two most prominent buzzwords we are hearing in our day to day operations during this pandemic.

Virtual Meetings:

Produced by way of video and teleconferencing software, these meetings have proven to be a valuable resource for connecting, engaging while maintaining productivity during this time. People from around the world can share thoughts, ideas and information in real-time without having to be in the same physical space.

When considering whether a virtual meeting is right for you and what you are hoping to achieve, it would benefit you to consider some of the key advantages of using this method. They include overall savings to your bottom line:

  • There are virtually, ahem, excuse the pun, no costs incurred for the venue, the food and beverage, the outside vendor contracts, the travel, and the lodging accommodations to name a few.
  • Although virtual meetings require a great deal of advance planning, they remove a lot of the challenges that live, in-person challenges pose, which require the same advance planning coupled with onsite management.

  • The meeting is literally brought to you. There’s no need to take time out of your schedule to allow for travel. Productivity remains intact where you can manage your time and commit to the amount of time the meeting is scheduled for just by logging in on your digital device.
  • Depending on the digital platform selected for your virtual meeting, the number of hosts, panelists and attendees can be in the hundreds or even thousands. One is afforded the opportunity to connect with a wide reaching, expansive audience for one meeting.
  • These types of meetings are helpful and have proven to be successful for interactive webinars, satellite broadcasts, webcasts and panelist conferences, to name a few. 

Hybrid Meetings:

Integrating technology used for virtual events with traditional, in-person, live events, the hybrid model has become increasingly popular as we try to move forward during COVID-19. These types of events include face to face participants connecting with those participants who are located remotely, in another location by way of digital technology.

  • Audience expansion is an advantage to hybrid meetings. When space at a venue can become limited by registrants, the hybrid model can be used to capture the other interested parties by offering them a means to participate virtually while gaining all the same insight and information as if they were on-site.
  • When considering a hybrid meeting, you are offering a choice to your audience based on their ability to travel and attend, and in today’s schematic, feel comfortable attending an in-person event vs. maintaining social distance by attending digitally.

  • The cost factor vs. the ROI of a hybrid event illustrates that the reach of the event’s content is far more widespread and vaster when a virtual component is added.
  • When offering a hybrid component, those participants who choose to attend virtually can record, re-watch and share the content, boosting the reach beyond if it were only an in-person event.
  • These types of events are beneficial for conferences, workshops, symposiums, lectures, essentially any mode that we have always been accustomed to and then incorporating an on-line variable to it.

What has been your experience when choosing between a virtual event or hybrid event? What factors influenced you decision-making process in what you chose? Let us know in the comments.

Cara O’Neill is a Project Manager at GCG Event Partners where she has happily set up shop for over 15 years. Her professional background may be in the meeting & event industry; however, she enjoys the multi-tasking involved in her day-to-day operations contributing to marketing GCG and the many services it provides. You can connect with Cara on LinkedIn here.

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