In-person, virtual or hybrid: how to choose your event format for your upcoming events 

Deciding on the best format for an event is a top challenge for planners. Here’s an overview of the pros and cons of each type…

March 20, 2023

- 3 minutes

Event planning used to be simpler years ago, but post-pandemic, organizations now commonly incorporate in-person, virtual or hybrid events. Choosing between the three is a top challenge for planners. We’ll outline the pros and cons of each format to help decide which is best for your event. 

In-person events 

In-person events provide deep personal connections and experiences that cannot be fully replicated in virtual events. Trade shows with vendors and suppliers also perform better in-person, according to research.  

However, in-person events also have advantages and disadvantages that depend on the situation and goals. Below are some benefits and drawbacks of hosting in-person events: 

in-person event


  • In-person events offer better face-to-face connections and networking opportunities, attracting larger attendance. Various strategies can promote in-person events and increase attendance.

  • Integrating smart event solutions into in-person events can enhance their digital optimization and manageability. Utilizing online ticketing platforms and event registration systems can facilitate the registration and ticketing process. 

  • In-person events provide valuable networking opportunities that attendees prioritize. Event management platforms can enhance networking through pre-event connections, business card exchange, and AI matchmaking. Face-to-face interaction is significant for better understanding expressions, tone, and reactions, making it more beneficial for networking. Attending in-person events can greatly help in expanding personal or professional networks. 

  • In-person events are better for building trust and relationships than virtual events. Face-to-face interactions promote community and are ideal for promoting products and services. Seminars, conferences, and trade shows are great opportunities for fostering these interactions.


  • The primary drawback of in-person events is cost, as organizers must bear expenses such as venue rental, catering, speaker fees, and attendee travel. This can result in a costly logistical challenge, both for organizers and attendees. 

  • Organizing events involves handling multiple tasks like venue, catering, speakers, attendees, and sponsors. Online event solutions simplify the management process, and without them, manual management can be time-consuming and prone to errors.

  • In-person events may have limited reach and may alienate potential attendees who are not ready for in-person events or traveling yet.

  • In-person events have live content that is not easily shareable after the event. To make it evergreen, organizers can record or stream the event using online platforms to share it with attendees and non-attendees.

Virtual events

Virtual events have evolved significantly, offering a range of options for creating engaging online experiences. These events now offer several advantages, but there are also some drawbacks, particularly when compared to in-person or hybrid events.  

virtual event


  • Virtual events don’t require physical venue rentals, worry about room presentation, printing name tags, or arranging refreshments. You only need presenters and access to a production studio for video conference production. 

  • Virtual events eliminate the need for travel and physical space limitations of in-person events. The online registration process offers the advantage of gathering a vast amount of attendee information, which is crucial for analytics. As such, data analytics is becoming increasingly important.

  • Virtual events provide a recorded video of the event that can be archived on your website or other platforms to promote your company and services. Attendees can watch the content at their convenience and catch up on any missed sessions. Additionally, virtual events allow you to add value with the content long after the event has ended.


  • Virtual events are far less personal compared to in-person events, as online interactions lack the same level of connection as face-to-face interactions. 

  • Virtual events may generate less excitement compared to physical events. Generating buzz around online events requires careful planning and a solid marketing strategy. 

  • Virtual events allow people to purchase tickets and attend at their own convenience, which may result in forgetting to sign in or having conflicting schedules. The lower cost of tickets may also lead to less personal investment in the event. 

  • Virtual events pose a challenge for networking since attendees have fewer face-to-face interactions and may engage in shallow interactions. Though virtual events provide some interaction, it may require effort to make connections.

Hybrid events

Hybrid events provide the advantage of combining the benefits of both in-person and virtual events. By hosting a hybrid event, organizers can achieve their goals for close connection and extended reach. However, the cost of organizing a hybrid event can be higher, as it essentially involves producing two events. Despite the cost, the return on investment is usually higher. Hybrid events also offer more flexibility in terms of format and can accommodate a wider range of participants, regardless of their location or schedule. They also provide more opportunities for interaction and engagement. Below are some pros and cons of hybrid events: 

hybrid event


  • Hybrid events offer attendees the choice to attend virtually or in-person, eliminating the need for long-distance travel. It provides flexibility for those who prefer virtual attendance and for those who want to meet in person.

  • Hybrid events allow global speaker participation which is not possible with onsite events. Virtual speaker participation is widely accepted, and many presenters are familiar with it. Hybrid events can attract international and renowned speakers.

  • Hybrid events promote inclusivity and diversity of opinion by allowing virtual attendees to overcome barriers that may prevent physical attendance, potentially increasing revenue. This leads to deeper and more productive discussions and debates. 

  • Hybrid and virtual events generate more online participant behavior and provide greater opportunity to collect data. Event management software offers reporting and analysis tools to identify leads and track audience engagement. This information can be used to inform future events and marketing campaigns.


  • Organizing a hybrid event requires more planning than either in-person or virtual events. Interaction between virtual and on-site attendees must be ensured, which increases the planning requirements. Reliable and powerful event software is crucial for planning a successful hybrid event.

  • Virtual attendees may not feel as connected to the event or other attendees as those who attend in person, so hybrid events may reduce the personal connection that attendees feel. 

  • Hybrid events can present communication challenges because organizers must ensure that both in-person and virtual attendees receive the same level of attention and engagement. 

  • Hybrid events pose challenges for networking as most participants may attend virtually. Planners need to come up with creative ideas to ensure interaction between all participants, both online and on-site. Important considerations include scheduling, connecting participants through text and video chat, and keeping online users engaged.

When deciding on the format for an event, organizers must consider the objectives of the event and the audience they hope to attract. In-person events are well-suited for fostering community and enabling face-to-face interactions, while hybrid events can reach a broader audience and provide more flexibility. It’s important to also factor in safety concerns, particularly during public health crises, and opt for virtual or hybrid events if necessary to minimize health risks for attendees. 

Ultimately, the choice between in-person, virtual, or hybrid events should be made by weighing several factors that are unique to each event, with attendee safety as a top priority. Canapii offers a comprehensive event management platform that can support all aspects of in-person, virtual, and hybrid events, including ticket sales, onsite check-in, live streaming, and attendee and sponsor engagement. Our team is available to provide assistance and help you develop the most effective strategy for your event. Reach out to us today! 


Gemma Edwards

Co-Founder at Canapii

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