Live, Virtual, or Hybrid Events: Which Approach is Better?

When the aim is to throw a good show and bring individuals together, you want to make sure you get it right. In this time and age, there are different approaches you can take to host an event. For social events where the goal is to inform, enlighten, create discourse, or even commemorate a particular day, you would typically host a live, face-to-face event. However, times are changing, and so is the norm. Today, you can find different event types to employ—three of which are the most employed: live, virtual, and hybrid events.

Live, Virtual, and Hybrid Events

With three different popular approaches to planning and hosting an event, you are probably wondering which path is the best. The bottom line is that no matter your goals, you want to go with the type of event that will get you the results you want. Live or virtual events can be useful in attracting that audience you desire, but they require entirely different planning approaches. Whereas live or hybrid events, while also different, need adjusting to slightly different planning approaches. Let’s take a closer look at each type of event. 

What is a Live Event?

A live event refers to a physical event where all the attendees are physically present and physically interact face-to-face. Generally popular among socialites, live events produce vibrant and genuine social discourse opportunities, exchange, and unforeseen interactions. A live event will also typically feature food, beverages, music, and other forms of entertainment.   

What is a Virtual Event?

A virtual event is an online event where all the attendees are virtually present and virtually interact with each other in an online platform or virtual environment. Virtual events are typically great for achieving a higher turnout, as a wider audience can be reached, invited, and persuaded to attend. On the attendees’ side, all they need is internet access and a reliable connection. In contrast, event planners might need to hire software, plan extensively, and effectively coordinate with others involved in the virtual event via the web.

What is a Hybrid Event?

A hybrid event is a mix of both a live event and a virtual event where some attendees attend in person, and others attend online on a web platform. In a hybrid event, people interact physically and virtually. Some examples of a hybrid event include trade shows, conferences, seminars, debates, workshops, and other events encompassing live and virtual components. 

Comparing Live, Virtual, and Hybrid Events

When thinking about which type of event to go with, it is crucial to know which approach would benefit you the most. What kind of approach will work for you depends on your goals and what you plan to achieve. For example, consider some of the following essential elements: the size of your event, your budget, the length of the event, and your target audience’s location. When comparing all three, you should be mindful of this and much more.      

When is Your Event Happening?

When you expect to host your event can help you determine which approach will be better. If your event is happening on the weekend, it would be much better to go through the trouble of setting up a live event because your audience would most likely save the date on the weekends when they are looking to mingle and let loose. However, suppose your event is going to happen during a pandemic. In that case, it is probably best to go with a virtual event to spare yourself any trouble and stay in line with social distancing policies that help quell the pandemic. But if only some restrictions exist due to a pandemic that’s slowing down where a certain number of attendees can be physically present in an event, then maybe a hybrid event would work for you.  


On the flexibility of what you can do when you host an event, hybrid events are the best option. The comparison of hybrid events with live and virtual events on flexibility is a no brainer. With a hybrid event, you can reach a wider audience as you can invite participants to attend physically and virtually. A part of your audience can interact on-site, while another part can interact online. You can also benefit from a lower cost with hybrid events, bringing you more flexibility in adjusting your expenditures.  

How Many Attendees are You Expecting?

The answer to how many attendees you are expecting is essential in choosing the right approach. If you can count on a loyal audience willing to register beforehand or pay a deposit in advance to secure a spot to attend your event, host a live event. If you are looking to attract a distant yet interested audience worldwide, virtual events can help you reach a wider audience via social media and email campaigns. However, if you are expecting a lot of attendees, host a hybrid event. You can have attendees physically attend your event for a premium while having an even larger audience to attend remotely for free or even a reduced price. 

Benefits for Businesses

Live, virtual, and hybrid events all offer benefits to a business in many different ways. However, in a world with restrictions due to a global emergency such as a pandemic, virtual events will surely benefit businesses more than other event types in lower costs, efficiency, flexibility, and communication. The dominance and comparison of virtual events with live and hybrid events, in this case, cannot be understated.

Audience Engagement

When it comes to engaging the audience, all three approaches vary in methods. For live events, having music, food, beverages, and entertainment is usually enough to get the attendees to mingle. However, you will have to be creative to keep your audience engaged online for virtual and hybrid events. It is no secret that people attending an event from a computer or a mobile device can quickly get distracted and even leave the event in the worst-case scenario. As a result, audience engagement takes on a whole different approach in the online world. And it would benefit you to learn how you can achieve maximum audience engagement online.   


As for costs, you will have lower production and overhead expenses with virtual and hybrid events than with live events. Most of your costs for virtual or hybrid events might go towards attaining proper software with professional online assistance. Other than that, the expenses on equipment to live stream your event might be somewhat costly.

Instant Feedback

If getting instant feedback is on the top of your list, virtual events, and to some extent, hybrid events, are the best approaches to get you that data. For example, with virtual events, depending on the software you use, you can survey your attendees, you can monitor how many people are engaged or interacting with others. In a virtual event, you can access instant information from your attendees and even run statistics if you need to.

Event ROI

In theory, you can achieve a positive event ROI with any event approach you choose. But in practice, achieving an ROI is not that easy. So many things can go wrong, and additional costs might arise out of nowhere. Nonetheless, to secure a positive event ROI, focus on growing your audience, find reliable sponsors, provide exceptional audience engagement, and create a hype about your event, whether live, virtual, or hybrid.

The Pros and Cons of Live, Virtual, and Hybrid Events

Every type of event approach has its pros and cons. Not one approach is perfect. The efficacy of each event type depends on the circumstances in which you are hosting your event. Let’s take a look at how they compare.

Event Type Pros Cons
Live Event
  • Face-to-face interactions 
  • In-person mingling and deeper connections
  • Sensory experience
  • Opportunity to network and socially interact
  • Costly (expensive)
  • Delayed feedback
  • Smaller reach
  • Extensive planning
Virtual Event
  • Fast and seamless planning
  • A greater reach and influence.
  • Easy to attend
  • More control and less uncertainty
  • Instant feedback
  • Share recorded content post-ante
  • Safer for attendees
  • Lacks a deeper human connection
  • Attendees can quickly get distracted
  • Attendees can quickly exit the event or tune out (disengage)
  • Not suitable for long events
  • Professional software can be costly.
  • Free software might be unreliable.
  • Online technical difficulties
Hybrid Event
  • Get the best of live and virtual events.
  • Safer for attendees
  • Reach a larger audience online and onsite
  • Reduce costs
  • Better production value quality
  • Provides a live event experience to online attendees
  • Instant feedback
  • Online technical difficulties
  • Additional planning and set up
  • More equipment.
  • More focused coordination with the onsite and online audience

Platforms to stream your virtual event | GEVME Live


Exactly which approach is the best option to host your event is up to you and your underlying conditions. Your budget, time constraints, the current state of affairs in your environment, and physical and social boundaries play a role in what approach you should or should not pursue to host your event. In the end, the best event type for you will mostly depend on your priorities, ideals, and constraints.


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