In the Battle of Hybrid vs. Physical Events, Who is Winning?

2014-pcma-convening-leaders-event_webcast-resized-600Record-breaking attendance numbers were seen at the PCMA 2014 Convening Leaders Event for both in-person and virtual attendees.  The event held this past January in Boston had almost 5,000 attendees. 877 people attended via hybrid and 4,072 attendees participated face-to-face. Additionally, 76 of those face-to-face attendees attended both in person and hybrid over the course of the event making the total hybrid audience 953 people.


PCMA documented its reach to an audience that is unable to travel this year. When surveyed as to why they attend hybrid vs. face-to-face events, responders said:

  • 48% said budget didn’t allow for face-to-face participation
  • 23% weren’t able to leave the office because of their schedule
  • 13% said work or home was too busy for them to leave
  • 7% said they attended online because it was easy

PCMA has hosted a number of growing hybrid programs since 2011 which have either met or exceeded past attendance records. Deborah Sexton, PCMA president and CEO said, “Our numbers for both mediums prove our strategy is real and relevant – we continue to expand our audience globally as well as within our target audiences.” Virtual and hybrid events allow audiences to decide how they want to attend and participate in events. Attendees may decide to participate in an event virtually first to see if the event is worth traveling to the next time, or if attendees have a limited amount of time to attend, going virtually maybe the best option for them for that event. With more options, people can see the added benefits of hybrid events and have responded positively by attending virtually only or hybrid to better suite their availability and needs.

PCMA is not only seeing attendance numbers grow during hybrid events but titles of attendees may surprise you too, everyone from CEOs to meeting planners are attending hybrid events and 50% of all attendees to PCMA events report directly to senior staff.

Hybrid Events can increase attendance

People are now expecting to be able to connect to events regardless of where they are located. In 2011 17% of hybrid attendees spent over 10 hours at an event, in 2014 that number has jumped to 34%.  Supporting the notion that the additional component of adding a virtual element to your event will produce higher engagement and attendance.

Many companies don’t want to abandon their physical events. Instead, it is increasingly common for companies to enhance existing physical events with hybrid event programs and content. Having a hybrid event will drive additional traffic to your events, conferences and summits and can lead to an increase in attendees to future face-to-face events. When asked if the experience of a hybrid event makes it more likely to attend the same event in- person only 7% of all responders said they wouldn’t.

What is the future of Hybrid and Virtual Events?

With cutting-edge advancements in video, audio, and integrated communication technologies companies now are doing more to reach a global online audience. We will begin to see more events including virtual and hybrid options to fulfill the needs of a large global audience with limited travel budgets and time spent away from the office or home. Hybrid events allow audiences to have the same experiences as if they were attending the physical event.

If you want to learn how to incorporate a hybrid experience into your current physical events, attend the Virtual Edge Summit to learn from industry experts on the future of digital events.

Let us know what you think about Hybrid Events!

How will you continue to meet the needs of your audience at your next event?

Will you be including a hybrid element to your event?

If you’re ready to take your events or presentations to the next level, or if you just have a question or a comment, we’d love to hear from you. To learn more, visit:, email us at, or call us at (312) 962-3708.