It’s Not “All or Nothing”: Event Options During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Thank you Sarah Bondar, Chief Operating Officer at The Charles Group for contributing this article on the important topic of virtual and hybrid event options as we move forward together as an event community through the COVID-19 Pandemic. 

We can’t meet in person right now, or at least not in very large numbers. And even as countries and states start to open up and ease restrictions, we may not be able to meet in large numbers for a while.  Organizations want and need to continue to hold events so they can meet their business goals.  The good thing is, it doesn’t have to be “all or nothing” when it comes to hosting events.  Instead of a full-fledged, in-person event, organizations can choose to host virtual or hybrid events as we navigate through this time. 

What Are Virtual Events and Hybrid Events?

A virtual event takes place through an online event platform. There are countless types of platforms available, all with different features and price points. A hybrid event is when there is an in-person event component for some attendees, as well as access for online participation for those that cannot attend in-person. 

Characteristics of a Successful Virtual Event Experience

It’s too easy to walk away or get distracted during a virtual event, so you need to find creative ways to engage with the event audience so you can keep them tuned in and wanting more. Maybe that’s through interactive features, networking formats, entertainment, and performances, or gamification and contests. It’s also important to find the right speakers and event MC’s who are experienced in working in the virtual realm and know how to keep a virtual audience engaged.

Of Interest: Sarah was a panelist for Allseated’s Connecting Our Community Event Planner Expert Panel

You also need to offer a seamless and intuitive user experience for virtual attendees. If it takes too much time or effort to get on to the platform, to register for sessions, or if there are bandwidth issues, you’re going to lose the interest and, more importantly, the goodwill of your virtual audience. 

The right platform makes all the difference. You have goals for hosting your event, but you must keep in mind that your audience, sponsors, and speakers also have different reasons for participating in your event. When formulating your event strategy and deciding on which virtual event platform to use, you must take the needs of all of your key stakeholders into consideration.

The Future of Events

Virtual events are here to stay, even as we get past the COVID-19 pandemic. They will never replace in-person event experiences because too much is gained from being face to face. But they do allow for flexibility for event hosts and for attendees that aren’t able to travel, have cost concerns, or have other reasons for not being able to be there in-person. They can offer a great attendee experience if managed flawlessly and on the right platform. 

You’ve Got This!

Remember, it doesn’t have to be “all or nothing” for your organization. You can still host an amazing virtual or hybrid event that helps you meet your goals and that inspires, energizes, and engages your audience. The award-winning The Charles Group can assist with event strategy and brainstorming sessions, virtual platform recommendations, event build and management, and more.  We have a lot of great ideas and knowledge to share when it comes to virtual event experiences. Please reach out to us at or 973.575.1444 if you need any assistance. We’d love to discuss all the ways we can help!

Of Possible Interest:

What Seating Arrangements May Look Like With Social Distancing

How To Handle Uncertainty As An Event Professional



Collaborate in real-time with vendors and clients to increase efficiencies.