The differences between virtual & hybrid events

When it comes to comparing hybrid vs. virtual events, it’s not a matter of saying one is inherently better than the other. There’s a lot…

January 7, 2022

- 3 min read

The pandemic ushered in a new era of events, turning the entire industry on its head. Virtual and hybrid events are now at the top of marketers’ priority lists. But while both formats have skyrocketed in popularity, the two aren’t exactly interchangeable. When planning your alternative to an in-person event, which option should you choose?

As a leader in virtual event software, we know a thing or two about the nuances between virtual and hybrid events. Here’s a closer comparison so you can choose the right format for your goals.

What are virtual events?

In a virtual event, all elements of the event take place virtually. Even the speakers tune in from wherever they are rather than travelling to a dedicated event venue. From registration and check-in to participation to marketing to your event app, your online event platform becomes the only real tool you need.

What are hybrid events?

Hybrid events bridge the gap between an all-virtual and an all in-person event. Some elements take place online or via a virtual event platform, while some pieces take place on site. This allows attendees to choose the format that works best for them. Some like the energy and facetime that comes with attending events in person, while others prefer the low cost and convenience of a virtual event.

Let’s explore both of these formats further.

What are the main differences?

When comparing virtual events with hybrid events, a few key elements stand out:

Different formats

With all-virtual events, technology is the name of the game. Attendees will need a good internet connection and the ability to navigate the event platform’s user interface. Using an online event service like Canapii removes a lot of the guesswork here because it’s designed for the average user.

However, hybrid events have an extra layer of complexity. In addition to creating an in-person experience, you also need a virtual platform for your remote attendees. It’s almost like creating two events in one.


Hybrid events tend to require larger budgets because, just as we said, it’s like having two events in one.

This isn’t the case with virtual events. These tend to be lower in cost because the bulk of your expenses go toward technology and marketing, not physical resources.


Choosing a hybrid vs virtual event can sometimes be a matter of personal preference. Older attendees may prefer an in-person option because it’s what they’re most familiar with. Someone who is digitally native, such as a Millennial, may prefer either option based on their priorities. Consider who you’re trying to target with your event to help you decide the best format.

How to decide which event format is best for you?

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Preferences aside, there are a few logistical considerations that can guide your decision, too.

Number of attendees

One of the most attractive things about a virtual event is its scalability. Event planning software like Canapii can adjust to accommodate events of any size.

The same holds true for hybrid events; however, depending on how many people sign up to attend in person, you will need to tailor your venue to match. Bigger venues usually mean higher costs across the board.

Location of attendees

Your audience will also have a lot to do with the format you choose. For example, are you trying to target businesses or consumers just in your local market? If so, then a hybrid event makes perfect sense. But if you want to reach beyond your local area and invite people in other countries or cities, then virtual is the way to go.

Borders matter less in both formats since users can tune in remotely. However, location combined with other factors, like your audience’s personal preferences, can also influence the number of sign-ups.

When is the event planned for

Another advantage of virtual events is the ability to plan events with little notice. The technology and event infrastructure is already in place. Most of your planning will focus on marketing, and then following up with leads after the event.

The same can’t be said for hybrid events. While you can pull off the virtual part in less time, you’re still having to invest time and energy into figuring out the in-person portion. Many venues get booked months in advance. If you have the time for this, then a hybrid option might work best.

Are hybrid or virtual events right for you?

When it comes to comparing hybrid vs. virtual events, it’s not a matter of saying one is inherently better than the other. There’s a lot of overlap between the two, and certainly many unique advantages to each. Rather, your goal should be choosing a format that makes sense to the outcome you want. To learn more about how Canapii can help you run a better event, schedule a demo.


Gemma Edwards

Co-Founder at Canapii

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