The term “virtual events” has been rapidly becoming something of a cliché, as businesses swop live events for virtual ones. In a year, necessity has forced businesses to adapt to virtual connectivity in a way never seen before, with specialised systems for nearly every event type, size and budget.
How did technology help us get here, and where could it take us in the future?
Technology has played a key role to help transpose live events to virtual ones, along the way uncovering some of the benefits of attending an event from the comfort of your living room.
Safety and Comfort
Events in the virtual sphere can’t replicate some of the most alluring aspects of ‘the real thing’, such as direct human connection, a welcome break from routine and an open bar. However, a well hosted virtual event can deliver most of the more tangible benefits of a live event (networking, industry expertise, testing new products) without attendees leaving their homes.
In the COVID era, virtual events are able to satisfy the audience’s number one requirement: safety, which alone makes for a compelling option for many businesses. According to Forbes, attendance of virtual events is up 1,000% since the pandemic began, and 94% of UK businesses plan to run an online event within the next 12 months.
Not only did the virtual event attract more people to the previously planned live event, but the attendees were able to digest more content in a more flexible way, taking advantage of the on-demand resources.
By building a custom platform for their events, A-Team also grew their reputation on a global level, as well as increasing the number of sponsors and partners, thanks to the reach of their events now not being limited by physical location or ability to travel.
Information is power. Virtual events yield richer insights when customers attend multiple sessions, something much harder to track at live events. It also means that event and conference organisers have a new opportunity and a wider landscape to grow their businesses.
Travel costs, lodging expenses and registration, can quickly add up. We’ll all be feeling the economic effects of the Coronavirus crisis for years to come. As such, a virtual event, with low overheads for everyone concerned, are comparatively cheaper to produce and far more affordable than live events – 95% cheaper.
The hurdles created by location, travel and accessibility are eliminated with online events, which means that event organisers can pick any speaker from around the world to focus on the content required and deliver an experience that will best resonate with their audience.
The best bit?
Virtual events can be structured to every individual business’s needs and established traditions for events.
Most virtual event platforms on the market are highly flexible software solutions, giving businesses the ability to manage and host different types of online events, depending on their needs.
Platforms facilitate digital experiences via built-in webcasting capabilities, integrations with webinar software (or both), and can incorporate interactive content too.
For businesses just looking to just host one or two events a year, an off-the-shelf platform will do the job. There are some great examples like Zoom, WebEx and Aventri. However, if events are a key activity for your business’ growth, or you see the opportunity to diversify a previous live events model, you should consider making the most of your technology investment and potentially develop something custom to the business’s needs.
From an organiser’s perspective, virtual events are facilitating the recruitment of top-notch speakers from any part of the world and showing true potential for global attendance for attendees.
From an attendee’s perspective, virtual events offer a more flexible user experience as they offer a wider choice of content and can be attended from anywhere with an internet connection. Virtual events are helping to democratise information and are opening new networking circles.
The next big step is to find better ways to recreate human interaction otherwise lost when we are physically separated. With technology introducing a new wave of innovation, the future of virtual events in 2021 can bring new and exciting developments and the ability to merge technology with live conferences, making these experiences more accessible.
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