Are virtual events here to stay?
The event industry saw a massive shift last year due to the covid-19 pandemic with many businesses pivoting their strategies from live events to virtual events.
The shift we saw last year lead to a huge demand and growth of virtual events as companies looked to find ways to keep employees, clients and customers engaged without gathering them under one roof.
Virtual events have proven themselves to be beneficial for many reasons, they have been a life line for many companies by allowing them to reach and connect with colleagues all over the globe from the safety of their own homes and have reduced the expenditures normally associated with making this possible, such as travel and accommodation costs..
However the question on everyone’s minds is – are the benefits of virtual events enough to change the way we see events forever or are they merely just a way of making the most of a bad situation and bridging the gap until physical events can return? In short; are virtual events here to stay?
The future of virtual events
As we are in the midst of our third lockdown here in the United Kingdom, there seems a light at the end of the tunnel for the first time in 12 months as vaccinations are rolled out across the country, this has seen many businesses starting to plan the return of live events and incentive travel for later this year and 2022.
Many popular UK conference and event venues are now all booked up for 2021 and it seems 2022 is also booking up fast.
Yet, even though live events and incentive travel start to make their welcomed return to budgets and marketing strategies, we are seeing indications that virtual events will continue to be a huge part of the event industry with more and more requests for hybrid events.
Whilst virtual events are dominating the event industry today, it seems there may still be a requirement when we return to ‘normality’. After the forced crash course on virtual communication technology that covid has inflicted on the whole world, surely an increased demand/expectation for all things virtual in the future is inevitable?
The digital event experience
The shift to virtual events has been a long time coming and something that the pandemic not only accelerated, it exploded! Organisers were already moving towards a hybrid structure but in the last 12 months we have seen every type of industry embrace a form of virtual event..
With restrictions set to stay for a little while longer, organisers for future events have been looking at what they can do remotely (whilst people are working from home) v’s physically (intimate events, fewer mass gatherings, outdoor events) when we ease out of lockdown 3.0.
Businesses are no longer interested in unengaging and one sided webinars and are now looking for that engaging event experience. Events that focus on delegate engagement and user interaction through features like one to one video networking rooms, roundtables and breakout rooms where delegates can meet and network with a relaxed drink will be the turning point for a digital event experience.
Without a crystal ball it’s hard to say for certain what the future holds for virtual events but we believe that the pandemic has changed the way businesses position events forever, not only do hybrid and virtual events present the obvious benefits from environmental and time perspectives, they also provide accessibility to content and networking for a much wider audience.
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