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Running Events In 2021: In-Person, Virtual, Or Hybrid Model?

Posted by Gary Henderson on Jul 13, 2021 12:45:00 PM

2020 turned the in-person event industry upside down since the pandemic hit last March.

While some businesses struggled, others were able to shift to online events and have found tons of success.

But as more and more parts of the country are opening up, in-person events are coming back. The question is, will people want to show up?

And another question that a ton of marketers are asking is, “Are virtual events dead?” 

Both are great questions and something that anyone who runs either type of event should consider.

While the future is uncertain, I’ll help provide some clarity on each type to help you find the right model for your business moving forward.

Let’s dive into each type of event and see how you can use them to grow your business in 2021 and beyond. 

In-Person Events 

Let’s start with in-person events.

Like any type of event, there are pros and cons:

Pros 

  • Easier to build lasting relationships.

  • Attendees learn and interact with content more.  

  • Easier for speakers to bring the energy in front of a live crowd.

  • Can meet people in person, shake hands, make eye contact, and expand your network.

Cons 

  • Certain number of attendees.

  • Costs more for the presenter and attendees. 

  • Requires more time, energy, and travel expenses from attendees.

  • Need to plan well in advance and have a team that can ensure things run smoothly.  

Personally, I love in-person events, and they’ve been a huge part of my life and business over the past decade (as a speaker and attendee).

In-person events make it easier to form relationships with people and connect like you might not be able to with online events. 

But as I mentioned in the intro, now that in-person events are allowed, will people show up? Or, are they too scared to travel and/or too comfortable with virtual events? 

After masterminding with a group of fellow digital marketers on Clubhouse, I’ve found a lot of people are not ready to start attending events.

When people were asked why it wasn’t because they were scared of the virus either, it was that they didn’t want to leave home.

So many people have become complacent and enjoy the convenience of attending virtual events from home. 

This is a worrisome trend, as I do feel that some people have gotten super complacent about not wanting to leave home at all.

Does this mean in-person events are dead forever? 

Absolutely not, people still love making real human connections in the real world. Instead, it’s about utilizing in-person events at the right time and using them strategically.

As T. Harv Eker said, “It’s not what you’re doing, it’s how you’re doing it.”  

One great way to use in-person events still is if you run a high-level mastermind. These are usually smaller groups of people (10-20) and make it easier for people to get together.

Plus, less overhead for you and your mastermind members can make amazing connections in a few days together. 

Related Post: How to Build Lasting Relationships - 5 Essential Ingredients 

Virtual Events 

Next up is virtual events… I’m not talking about another boring Zoom meeting either.

With virtual events, I’m referring to paid events such as workshops, challenges, and panel-style summits.  

According to this study, “The majority (93%) of event marketers plan to invest in virtual events moving forward.” 

Pros

  • Adaptable.

  • Unlimited capacity.

  • Advanced analytics and feedback.

  • Cheaper for the host and attendees. 

  • Easier for people to watch from anywhere in the world.

  • Provides a more immersive experience than watching recordings. 

  • Can remain live year-round or host more per year, thus increasing revenue. 

Cons

  • Technological challenges.

  • Harder to build real relationships. 

  • Easier for attendees to skip the event and/or not participate from home with too many distractions. 

If you’re like some people, you might be thinking… “Are virtual events still going to be around?”

My answer is yes, I think that every modality will stick around for the foreseeable future.

Virtual events have found so much success in the past year, not to mention some parts of the world are still on lockdown.

Plus, they’re cheaper to run and convenient for tons of people to attend, making it a win-win situation. 

Some people love them, while others hate them.

As a marketer, I think they’re great for certain situations, but it all depends on your business model, offers, and goals. 

Virtual events are a great way to build your audience and increase brand awareness.

Since they don’t cost nearly as much to put on, you can spend more money to acquire customers with paid advertising. 

As an attendee, virtual events make it easier to meet some people via breakout rooms. Then, if and when you see them in person, it’s easier to keep and grow the connection. 

Plus, after talking with friends who run large virtual events, they told me that audience sizes are not shrinking, but in fact, increasing dramatically!

One person I had in a Clubhouse room said that a large internet marketer ran an online event in December 2020 and June 2021.

He said that audience sizes nearly doubled, despite more and more of the country opening up in the seven months between.

Needless to say, virtual events are here to stay. 

If you use them correctly, it is a great way to increase recurring revenue, offer a low ticket option to work with you, and provide real transformation for attendees.

Plus, once someone has bought from you once, it’s much easier to upsell them to higher ticket items in the future. 

Hybrid Model 

The newest event model is the hybrid model, which is essentially the best of both worlds. This is both a virtual and in-person event. 

You can have hundreds or thousands of people watching remotely and a live audience as well.

As a speaker, you have people right in front of you, plus cameras from virtual attendees both behind you and in front of you! 

While this sounds like the perfect blend of the two, I will say that running a hybrid event is not for the faint of heart.

It takes a lot of time, planning, and resources to make it happen. Because when you think about it, you’re basically running two events simultaneously. 

If you’ve ever ran any events, you know how much work it is, so running two at the same time isn’t an easy task.

Plus, there are so many little details that you might not even consider. You have to think about where the cameras are located, position on stage, virtual cameras, and more. 

The planning aspect alone takes a ton of time and of course, it still needs to deliver transformation content for your audience (both live and virtually).

But when done correctly, it can provide amazing results for both types of attendees. 

I recommend running a hybrid-style event for bigger brands who have a larger budget to pull it off.

If you’re a solopreneur or only have a few virtual assistants, I’d keep running virtual events and scale until you can hire a bigger team to help you run a successful virtual event.

How To Run Transformational Events

Regardless of what type of event you choose to run, there are some common ingredients for running any successful event. 

When planning any type of event, always ask yourself this question: 

When they get in the car (or close their laptop), how do you want them to feel? 

Once you get that figured out, you can reverse engineer the process.

Also, you want (and need) to think about three things; the attendees’ heart, body, and mind.

Each plays an important role in creating a successful and transformative event. 

  • Heart: To run a successful event, you need to speak to their emotions. Think about how you are going to get things to their heart that are going to transpire past things they feel. You want to listen to your audience as much as possible instead of coming up with ideas from your head. This will allow you to speak directly to them and help them get the results they’re seeking from you.

  • Body: The second thing you need to think about is their body. For physical events, it’s making sure they are comfortable, have plenty of breaks, and have their body moving. For virtual, it’s important to schedule the event strategically (short sessions, built-in breaks, etc.) and ensure they are engaged (especially on multi-day events). 

  • Mind: The final piece of the puzzle is giving them enough information to help them make a decision. Usually, there will be an upsell to different offers, so it’s essential to deliver epic content that will shift their thinking and make them want to work with you even more.   

Final Thoughts 

Remember, you don’t have to be in-person to do something personally anymore.

With so much incredible technology, it’s never been easier to connect with your audience, no matter where they are in the world.

But it’s also important to remember that people don’t want boring old Zoom calls anymore.

As more and more businesses are offering events, it’s up to you to differentiate yourself from the crowd.  

I think you should use a combination of in-person, fully virtual, and a hybrid model moving forward.

Each type of event style has its own unique benefits and can play an important role in growing your business and massively impacting your audience.