5 min read

Hybrid vs In-Person Networking Events: What's the Difference?

Written by
Len Gauger
Published on
June 1, 2023

The event industry has undergone a digital transformation over the past few years. With the rise of meeting technology and the need for flexibility, hybrid events have emerged as a popular alternative to traditional large, in-person events like conferences and trade shows. 

The value of in-person events in 2023 cannot be understated, despite a boom in virtual events during the COVID-19 pandemic. The global events industry is forecasted to generate $2 trillion by 2028, which is a significant jump from the $887 billion the market generated in 2020.

But what exactly are hybrid events, and how do they differ from in-person events? We explain the key differences between these two networking event formats and help you understand which one might be the right fit for your business to host.

Why Should a Business Host a Networking Event?

Hosting a business networking event can bring several benefits to a company. Whether you’re looking to build brand awareness or generate more leads by drawing in industry leaders by marketing a workshop, the returns for businesses have never been better. 

Here are some factors to consider when deciding if you should launch a networking event this year:

1. Expand Professional Network

Networking events provide a platform for companies to connect with potential clients, partners, suppliers, and industry professionals. It allows for the exchange of ideas, collaboration opportunities, and the chance to build valuable relationships, which can be facilitated through B2B matchmaking

2. Generate Leads and New Business Opportunities

Networking events create the ideal environment for B2B lead generation. By showcasing products or services and engaging in meaningful conversations, companies can attract potential clients and identify new business opportunities.

3. Enhance Brand Visibility and Credibility

Hosting a networking event can position a company as a thought leader and industry expert. It provides an opportunity to showcase expertise, share knowledge through presentations or panel discussions, and increase brand visibility among a targeted audience.

4. Foster Partnerships and Collaboration

Networking events create a space for companies to forge partnerships and collaborations. By bringing together like-minded professionals or businesses, the event can lead to strategic alliances, joint ventures, or partnerships that can lead to mutual growth and success. These benefits are not only for attendees, but for hosts as well. 

5. Gain Insight into Market and Industry Trends

Networking events, such as hosting a roundtable discussion, allow companies to stay updated on the latest industry trends, market insights, and competitor strategies. It provides a platform for learning from industry experts, engaging in discussions, and staying connected to the pulse of your industry.

Incorporating effective online event marketing ideas can significantly enhance the outreach and success of these networking events, tapping into broader audiences and ensuring a higher impact.

What is a Hybrid Event?

Hybrid events combine elements of both virtual and in-person experiences, allowing attendees to participate either physically or remotely. That’s why 34% of marketers say that they will add hybrid events to their event portfolio in the near future. These events typically feature a live, physical gathering with a simultaneous virtual component, enabling a wider audience reach. On the other hand, in-person events refer to traditional gatherings where attendees are physically present in a designated venue.

A hybrid event is a type of event that combines elements of both virtual and live experiences. It allows participants to attend either physically at a venue, or remotely, through a virtual event platform like Connect Space. 

In a hybrid event, there is a simultaneous live gathering with a virtual component, enabling a wider audience reach and greater flexibility. This format offers the best of both worlds by combining the benefits of face-to-face interactions with the convenience of remote participation to provide an inclusive and engaging event experience for attendees.

Moreover, a significant trend is emerging among event planners, with 62% committed to including a virtual dimension in live events, highlighting the growing importance of asynchronous hybrid events in future planning. This shift reflects a strategic adaptation to the evolving needs of attendees and underscores the benefits of flexible event formats.

Additionally, 59% of event marketers now see hybrid events as essential for their future strategies. This reflects a growing trend toward blending virtual and in-person elements to enhance event success.

What is an In-Person Event?

An in-person event refers to a gathering (either free or with a paid ticket) where attendees are physically present at a designated venue. It involves participants coming together to interact, network, and engage with each other. 

In-person events can take various forms, such as conferences, trade shows, seminars, and workshops. This format allows for face-to-face interactions, providing opportunities for personal connections and spontaneous conversations. In-person events have long been the standard format for business networking events and continue to play a crucial role in fostering B2B relationships.

Hybrid Events vs In-Person Events: Key Differences

Learn the key differences between hybrid events and in-person events to find out which format is best for the next business networking event you host. 

Audience Reach and Engagement

One of the most significant advantages of hybrid events is the ability to reach a larger audience. By incorporating virtual elements, these events can extend their reach globally, allowing participants from different parts of the world to join. Additionally, hybrid events often offer interactive features such as live chat, Q&A sessions, and networking opportunities, enhancing attendee engagement, whether they’re in-person or online. In contrast, in-person events have a more localized reach, limiting participation to those who can physically attend.

Best Networking Event for Reach: Hybrid Events

Cost and Budget Considerations

When it comes to cost, hybrid events may require a higher budget due to the need for a live broadcasting platform and technical support. However, they can also help save on certain expenses like travel and accommodation costs, as virtual attendees can join from the comfort of their own homes or offices. In contrast, in-person events usually involve expenses related to venue rentals, catering, transportation, and accommodation, making them potentially more expensive.

Most Cost-Effective: Hybrid Events

Flexibility and Convenience

Hybrid events offer attendees the flexibility to participate from anywhere, eliminating the need for travel and accommodation arrangements. This convenience can be particularly beneficial for international participants who may face visa or travel restrictions. In-person events, on the other hand, require attendees to be physically present at the designated venue, which may involve travel logistics and a longer time commitment. 

Most Flexibility: Hybrid Events

Business Networking and Relationship Building

Networking and relationship-building are essential aspects of any event. In-person events provide the advantage of face-to-face interactions, allowing attendees to establish personal connections and build relationships. The physical presence enables spontaneous conversations and networking opportunities that are often considered invaluable. However, hybrid events also offer virtual networking features such as chat rooms and breakout sessions, fostering connections across distances.

Best for Relationship Building: In-Person Events

Do you want to take your networking events to the next level with personalized matchmaking for your attendees? Schedule a Demo with Connect Space Today.

Key Considerations for Event Planners

Determining whether to host a hybrid or in-person event requires a few considerations before allocating a budget. Below are key factors to keep in mind when planning your business networking event. 

Event Planning and Execution

When planning a hybrid event, event organizers must consider technical aspects such as selecting a suitable virtual event platform, ensuring stable internet connectivity, and managing virtual attendee registration. In-person events require venue selection, logistics management, and onsite coordination. Both formats demand meticulous planning and execution to ensure a seamless experience for attendees.

Overall Event Experience

Creating an engaging event experience is crucial for both hybrid and in-person events. Hybrid events can incorporate various interactive elements, such as live polls and gamification, to keep participants engaged. In-person events can focus on creating an immersive physical environment through decor, lighting, and ambience to create memorable experiences for attendees.

Measurement and Analytics

Measuring the success and impact of an event through analytics is vital for event organizers. For example, how long attendees are on the event and when they are dropping off. 

Connect Space’s hybrid event platform offers robust analytics and data collection capabilities, enabling organizers to track attendee engagement, session popularity, and other metrics. In contrast, in-person events often rely on traditional methods such as surveys and feedback forms to gauge attendee satisfaction and event effectiveness.

Find out the difference between hybrid and blended events.

How to Choose the Right Event Format

Ultimately, the choice between a hybrid event and an in-person event depends on various factors. Consider your goals, target audience, budget, and desired outcomes. If reaching a wider audience and providing flexibility are priorities, hybrid events may be the way to go. On the other hand, if fostering personal connections and creating immersive experiences are crucial, in-person events may be the better option. In some cases, a hybrid format that combines the best of both worlds may be the ideal solution.

Hybrid events and in-person events offer distinct advantages and considerations. Hybrid events provide greater audience reach, flexibility, and cost savings, while in-person events prioritize face-to-face interactions and immersive experiences. Event organizers must carefully assess their goals and audience needs to determine which format aligns best with their objectives. As technology continues to advance, we can expect hybrid events to evolve and become an integral part of the event landscape, offering even more possibilities for engagement and connection.

Do you want to take your networking events to the next level with personalized matchmaking for your attendees? Schedule a Demo with Connect Space Today.

Len Gauger


Len Gauger is the innovative founder and CEO of Connect Space. Gauger has an impressive background, previously serving as an analyst at the U.S. Department of Defense. He showcases a unique blend of entrepreneurial spirit, strategic vision, and a knack for tech innovation. His diverse experiences have equipped him to effectively lead Connect Space, an events management platform company based in the bustling tech startup environment of Ann Arbor.