Differences Between Running Virtual Event and Physical Event

What is the event planning strategies between physical and virtual events. Read this article to check the best plan for your event.

Many event organisers have already moved their physical event online during the pandemic period. In fact, in-person and virtual events have their own advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we have listed out all the pros and cons of both physical and virtual events to help you make the best decisions for event planning.

Comparison between physical and virtual events



Physical event

Virtual event


Venue, staff, costs associated to travel, food, hotels, and entertainment. 

Cost on setting up the virtual platform. Big speakers usually  charge less.



International, boundaryless 


Content distribution is easier. Breakout sessions and multiple content options are held at the same time. 

Marketing content to the segments that get the best response and decide how to provide content.


Face-to-face communication, handshakes, eye-contact, and happy hours.

E-meet attendee online via video call, chat box.

Data collection

Need manual work or outsourcing technical support

Could be automatically collected through platform system; can check onsite performance

Different elements of both in-person and virtual events

1. Budget

a. Physical event

Organisers need to spend money on renting the venue, ordering food and other necessities for attendees. Besides, they may also need to hire different people to operate the whole event, such as event staff for onsite check in, event company to set up the venue or guest speakers who we need to pay travel expenses for.

b. Virtual event

Since event organisers can e-meet attendees online, venues and food are unnecessary. This minimises manual work and offsets the technical costs. It is also more cost effective to host events online without time and space limitation. Event organisers can decide to host events whenever they want.

2. Demography

a. Physical event

Due to border restrictions and the different time zones, organisers can only target local people for physical events. Moreover, the event budget will affect the audience size. If organisers want more attendees to join, they need to pay more for a bigger venue. For organisers with a limited budget, the event scale will have to be smaller.

b. Virtual event

Online events are more feasible for international events because an online platform can support a large group of attendees and stay live 24/7 online. Virtual events are accessible by any electronic devices, therefore no matter where the attendee comes from, they can also join the event conveniently.

3. Content

a. Physical event

Agenda planning for in-person events is easier. It takes people to a more focused environment with fewer distractions. As long as attendees are informed, entertained and fed, event hosts can keep them engaged for a very long time. Just to remember, no matter you are hosting in-person or virtual events, set your agenda as early as possible so your attendees will know what to expect. 

b. Virtual event

When building your agenda, you need to consider the time zone difference of your audiences. Make sure to factor in enough breaks for people to eat, check in with work, kids catering etc. Studies show that 90 minutes is about the maximum amount of time someone can participate in a virtual event  without a break. Another key factor to consider when building your virtual agenda is whether to live stream all of your content and sessions. And to decide which content to pre-record, to play it either at a dedicated time with live Q&A in the chat room, or making it available strictly on-demand.

4. In-event Engagement

a. Physical event

Organisers meet attendees face to face. Attendees can talk to each other physically and get real-time reaction and body language immediately. Organisers can have good ole handshakes and eye-contact with attendees. 

b. Virtual event

It is difficult to grab people’s attention in virtual events since we have more and more distractions at home now. To let attendees fully engage in virtual events, event organizers can interact with their attendees with multiple tools, such as video call, chat box, polling and Q&A section etc. 

5. Data collection

a. Physical event

Most physical events will collect check in data during the event and survey after the event. For a physical event, it is difficult to collect data without technical support. Event organisers may need the staff to collect data manually, and it will take a long time for the staff to enter data to the database.

b. Virtual event

With a virtual events platform system, organisers are able to track and collect attendees’ data and provide extremely useful data insights that help to nurture hot leads. It can help organisers to monitor the onsite check-in performance, booth visits time and duration, and even export the chat record or video recording after the event. 

In a word, the event management strategies between the physical events and virtual ones are as different as chalk and cheese. We need to be meticulous when planning different types of events by taking multiple factors into account.

Looking for more resources on planning a virtual event? Download the white paper for tips and event trend prediction now.

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