How do I decide whether an in-person, hybrid or virtual meeting is the best choice? This question is being voiced a lot these days, especially considering where we are with Covid, its new variants, and the great unknown of what is coming next. Here are a few considerations to help you make the right decision.
Let’s start with the easiest answer. If you are looking for a way to guarantee that your event will be held or your meeting will require many international travelers, go virtual. With all the variables of the virus, areas with low vaccination rates, issues with travel in and out of some countries, the shifting sands of regulations, etc., virtual is your best bet and your rescue from the woes of cancellation.
Of course, as we will not be in this pandemic forever, let’s look at some other criteria for deciding on the type of event to run.
As far as in-person meetings, if the content is complicated and requires lengthy discussion or team-building activities requiring a physical presence, in-person is the obvious choice. However, if you require attendees who are international or are not fully vaccinated or not ready, willing, and able to travel, you will need to make changes.
One option is the hybrid route because it allows almost anyone to attend and has the added benefit of not needing to make a complete change in plans. It is also an outlet when the meeting content is well suited for the in-person environment, but you have capacity constraints at the venue. In addition, a hybrid can easily increase attendance beyond the in-person capacity, which is perfect for growing the distribution of the event’s message. And finally, as a bonus, the hybrid option can extend the life of your content with its ability to quickly move to video-on-demand for weeks or months after the event.
The other choice is to meet virtually. While this is not an option for everything, certain meetings naturally lend themselves to it. The reason for this typically comes down to the type of content. For example, research, hard science, and financial topics work well in the virtual environment because they tend to be very data-driven and focused on conveying new information and educating attendees. On the other hand, sales and human resources content as well as entertainment, are more experientially oriented, and while they can work, they do not work optimally in the virtual setting.
Review the content as well as the meeting’s theme and objectives as they are usually good guides for whether the virtual option is viable or not. Also, do not fail to consider these two key benefits of meeting virtually, 1) this option allows for an almost limitless number of attendees without any worries about travel or lodging, and 2) much like hybrid events, the virtual option gives you an almost immediate way to extend the life of your content.