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In-person, Virtual, and now Hybrid Events?

  • Andy Hogben
  • 8 June 2021

The unprecedented impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has seen a seismic effect on the whole event industry, with virtual events becoming the norm out of necessity. What was a slightly niche area of the market just 18 months ago, is now a mainstream solution.

As the world starts to unlock it seems clear that there is a huge desire to once again meet in person, and that live events will return, and return strongly. It is also just as likely that the benefits we have all found in virtual events will continue to play a valuable role for many businesses, so while clients will take some of their projects back to the live venue, many will not and will stay online.

Sandwiched somewhere in between these two options is the Hybrid event, and whilst this is a relatively untested concept, many people will tell you it’s the future of our event industry.

So, what is a Hybrid Event?

The hybrid event is literally a mix, or hybrid, of both an in-person live event and a virtual event, one where you have some delegates attend at a venue, and others take part virtually.

Beyond this headline however the hybrid event raises many questions and has many options. For example, do the virtual delegates just sit and watch what is gong on at the venue, and if not, how do they take part? Do the virtual attendees have to be online live at the same time as the in-person element of the event, or can they take part on-demand afterwards?

There is of course no one answer, and as with any event, it’s not a one size fits all solution.

You could argue that hybrid events have been around for years, with clients live-streaming from an event so a remote audience can watch. But really the opportunity that is before us, one that may or may not become a mainstream option for event planners, is so much more than just delivering a livestream from an event.

For Hybrid events to be a true success we believe that every attendee must feel engaged, feel equally valued, and feel that they have taken part in the same event, whether they attended in person or virtually. Because if we don’t achieve this for our clients, the benefits of holding a hybrid event will very quickly disappear and the choice will predominantly be back to either in-person, or virtual.

The benefits of staging a hybrid event can be compelling, with an in-person audience who value face-to-face interaction and all the tangible benefits this can offer, and a remote audience that can easily access the event when maybe they would not have been able to attend otherwise due to time, travel distance, home & work commitments or venue capacity. Of course much of this also applies to the speakers, a hybrid event may well have a mix of speakers with some live in the room, and others connecting remotely from anywhere in the world.

So the hybrid model can give you the best of both worlds, opening your in person event up to a larger audience and more diverse speakers, and doing so in a way that can have strong financial, environmental, and accessability credentials.

All of this of course needs some serious planning, and this is where we come in!

Our team can work with you to understand your event requirement and how it would be best delivered using the hybrid model. We’ll show you how our registration systems can manage the process, with delegates booking for both the in-person and virtual element. Taking that a step further we’ll advise on the best use of event technology and the systems available from our event partners, Cvent and CrowdComms. These fantastic solutions provide the platform through which all attendees can chat, network, interact and take part; they are the glue that will join the in-person and virtual audiences together to create a successful hybrid event. Finally we shouldn’t forget the good old set, stage and AV set-up, you do want your whole event to look professional after all!

So there we are, some thoughts on Hybrid events, a great opportunity and one that we’d love to work with you on to take your project to a whole new world.

We'd love to hear from you.

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