Brand Events: In Person, Virtual Or Hybrid?

Brand events are back. But have they changed forever? If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that you don’t necessarily need to be in-the-room for every event scenario.

In some cases, virtual events can create a better return for brands looking to reach their audience. But how do you know when to go virtual, when to get people in the room or when it’s better to do both? It all depends on who you’re trying to reach and why you’re trying to reach them. Here’s how brands can find the best option for their next event.



In-person / live events

Let’s take a look at the benefits and challenges of live events, and how these impact your brand’s event goals.


Why choose an in-person event?

It’s easier to create deeper, more meaningful experiences when you’re face to face with your audience.

A live event is more likely to be remembered and therefore create a long lasting impact with your attendees.

After a year of communicating through a screen (thanks 2020!), there’s never been a better time to hold an in-person event – the novelty will likely last for some time. Live events also offer much more experiential opportunities to keep your audience engaged, entertained and inspired.

When your audience takes time out of their busy schedule to show up to your event, it signals that they want to hear what you’ve got to say, and is a great way to qualify interest with your brand.

Live events provide the opportunity to capture unique video and image content which can be used in future marketing activity.


What about the challenges of in-person events?

Limited capacity
A live event comes with a limited number of spaces – meaning you may reach less of your audience.

With an in-person event, you’ll likely have higher costs from expenses like space hire, refreshments etc.

With Covid regulations set to stick around for a little longer, live events pose a greater risk to safety.

Getting your target audience to commit their time to your brand event can be a challenge, especially when there’s travel and time off from their work involved. If your target attendee usually has a packed schedule, this is an even greater challenge.


Live event case study: FA Learning Conference

One brilliant example of a live event that had to be in-person, is when TMG organised the FA Learning Conference. This event brought goalkeepers up and down the country to learn about the latest goalkeeper coaching initiatives, see live demos and get involved with participation opportunities with industry experts. Why was live so important here? The event provided an opportunity for attendees to learn and participate first hand, but also for the brand to learn from attendees. Something which would have been near impossible, and nowhere near engaging, via a Zoom conference.


Virtual Events

Now let’s look at 2020’s communication method of choice, virtual.


Why choose a virtual event?

Being able to jump onto a zoom from wherever they are can make it much more appealing for your audience to join your event, especially at those harder to travel times.

Cost efficient
Virtual events generally come with a lower cost than live events.

A virtual event can be the difference of getting in front of 100 people in a room to thousands of people online.

Follow up
Not only can you reach more people during the event, but recording your virtual event means you can either make it public afterwards or send it to those who couldn’t make it. More reach, more value.

The cons of virtual events:

You’re fighting against a million and one distractions – family, the washing machine, their latest amazon order – making it harder to get across your message.

Even with breakout rooms, live chats and other great ways to keep your attendee engaged from wherever they’re watching., it’ll never compete with the connection you create when you’re in the same room.

Time limited
Virtual is not the one for longer events. We’re not designed to sit in front of a computer screen all day. Virtual works best in shorter stints.

Those in underprivileged areas may struggle with gaining access to tech and WiFi, which may hold your audience back from attending.

Even a virtual event needs the right event professionals to make it happen smoothly, especially when your entire event relies on seamless tech. If you don’t have the help of an experienced video production company, you may have some post-event regret!


Virtual event case study: Stats Perform

The Stats Perform Pro Forum is a conference for those in the world of sports stats to showcase the latest technology and news. With both speakers and attendees based all over the world, getting everyone in the room for 1 day can be a challenge, and one which ultimately limits how many of their delegates can attend.
For their latest conference, our makers at TMG helped them to go fully virtual.
This allowed us to capture pre-recorded content (making it easier to get the very best speakers from the industry) and also provide recorded on-demand content for a week after the event – meaning those in different time zones didn’t miss out. We also introduced live elements such as a Q&A after each session so attendees could still engage with the speakers and breakout spaces to allow for networking opportunities. The results? Stats Perform reached a global audience, with over 100% more attendees than their live conference.


Hybrid Events

What about mixing it up, bringing both live and online to your event? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of going hybrid.

Why choose a hybrid event?

Hybrid is the ultimate option to reach the most attendees during your event. Live provides the opportunity to create connection in-person, whilst the virtual element caters to those who may be either too introverted to attend (or just can’t make it in-person).

Not only do you get event photography and video from the live experience but recording your event through virtual provides plenty of material which can be used to follow up with attendees and promote your brand online.

Cons of a hybrid event:

Budget conscious
With hybrid, your budget needs to allow for both the event space hire, staff, but also the technology and professionals to make it happen smoothly – this can make it the most expensive choice of the 3.

Less exclusive
Making your event both live and online reduces that exclusivity feel, something that may be an issue if your goal is to create brand champions and make your attendees feel special!


Hybrid event case study: RAFA Conference

Back in 2018 (before hybrid was cool), TMG worked with the Royal Air Force Association for their annual conference, created for members of the RAFA to showcase the latest strategies and policies. With a national audience, we found that not everyone could or would want to travel to one destination. Some were happy to get together at their local space for the conference, whilst others preferred the live event experience. With such a mixture of needs, we opted to stream the live audience event to RAF members online – so those not there on the day could still interact and get access to the valuable resources. It was the ideal way to deliver the event so that all members were catered for – leading to a record number of attendees both in-person and online.



What should you choose for your next event?

Check out the table below to help you pick the best event style to meet your goals. Each event style brings with it its own pros and cons. Remember: it’s what’s going to matter to your audience that counts.


In-person Virtual Hybrid
Budget conscious X
Audience connection X X
Convenience / Easy Access X X
Reach X X
Collaboration X
Memorable X X
Exclusivity X
Less time limitations X X
Inclusivity X
Follow up value X X



Make your best event with TMG

At TMG, we live and breath events. We get to know your audience quickly, to create memorable, change-making and inspiring events both online and offline. If you want to make an impact with your audience then get in touch about our event production services or take a look at some of our case studies from some inspirational brands.

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