Hybrid and in-person events have made a major comeback in 2023. As events are shifting back to onsite, the future of virtual events hangs in the balance. So, to help streamline expectations for all event professionals vFairs carried out a survey for “The Future of Virtual Events”.
The respondents of the survey were professionals from corporations, events services, NPOs, and the education sector. Here are some of the most important takeaways from the survey that event professionals need to know about.
A Virtual Event Stats Outlook For 2023
Let’s start with a throwback to 2023 which was a great year for virtual events. The survey’s respondents also hosted virtual events for their organizations which can give us a good foothold to develop further context.
- 88.1% of the respondents had hosted at least 1 virtual event
- 46.3% of the respondents had hosted at least 4 virtual events
- 28.4% of the respondents hosted more than 10 virtual events
The expertise of these respondents in the survey is important to understand the legitimacy of the information vFairs was able to deduce from it. The survey predicted the future of virtual events with remarkable accuracy and the results show that they are here to stay. Here are some of the key statistics.
- 93.2% of respondents considered their virtual event a success in terms of attendance rate.
- 77.2% of the people surveyed prefer virtual events because of how easy they are to attend.
- 49.3% of the respondents showed interest in hosting some virtual and some in-person events.
- 20.9% of the respondents were interested in hosting in-person events with some virtual events.
- 7.5% of the respondents were only interested in hosting virtual events.
- 28.4% of the respondents to the survey chose virtual events with some in-person events.
- 95.5% of the people surveyed ensured that virtual events will be a part of their events strategy for next year.
- 38.8% of the surveyed people think that hybrid events will be the most popular in the next year.
vFairs also conducted some more proprietary research for the future of hybrid events through this survey in 2021. The survey results showed that:
- 57.4% of the respondents believed that virtual events will continue to grow.
- 14.8% of the respondents believed that hybrid events will become the future of all events.
According to both surveys, over the past few years, virtual events seem to be here to stay even if the trends move towards hybrid or in-person events. This seems to be the case, as 1 in every 2 event professional is inclined towards both virtual and in-person events for their future strategies. Organizers realize the importance of both types of events and we might see more hybrid event trends emerging in B2B and B2C markets.
Why Are Virtual Events Still Popular?
Many might have predicted that virtual events will be a thing of the past after the pandemic is over. This could be a logical conclusion if you consider the importance of physical interactions among humans. The two years without in-person events were brutal for many of us, but our research still suggests that virtual events are here to stay.
We asked our respondents why they would still consider hosting a virtual event. Here is what they said:
- 77.2% of the respondents chose ease of attendance
- 64.9% said global reach
- 47.4% of the respondents would consider virtual events because of the low cost
- 14% of the surveyed people think sponsorships are the main attraction for them
Some other of the most common reasons for choosing to host a virtual event were relatively easier administration, inclusivity, and the lack of geographical and logistical restrictions.
We also ran a poll on LinkedIn and asked event professionals and attendees why they would consider attending a virtual event. Here are the top reasons and their corresponding results:
- 62% of the respondents chose educational/informative purposes
- 26% of the respondents chose networking purposes
- 10% of the respondents chose fun
Emerging Virtual Event Trends in 2024
Virtual event stats show that these will just grow over time. However, they may not be there in the exact same way you might expect. In fact, there are a number of different opportunities organizers are already exploring. Therefore, here are some of the trends you’ll see this year.
Event Mobile Apps
As the surveys suggest, we might be moving towards hybrid events as the future of all events. Therefore, the technology stack behind in-person events will also change. One of the most prevalent trends over the current year has been the innovation of event mobile apps. You can make practically any in-person event a hybrid one by introducing a mobile app.
Mobile apps can make the entire event’s content available on the go and on demand for all attendees. They are more popularly becoming the powerhouses behind communication and networking at in-person events. A mobile app might be the key to connecting your in-person audience with the virtual one.
Now that companies have the tools to host their own events, they won’t just stick to annual or semiannual events. They will leverage these tools for smaller events throughout the year. Whether these are internal training activities or small-scale client interactions, virtual event technology will enable them to host easily throughout the year. This is because these do not have the same logistical and financial requirements as physical events, which makes it impossible to have such packed schedules. Hosts can also invite more speakers and moderators over the course of the year, rather than all at once.
In-House Virtual Events
As virtual events become more accessible, companies are using them for in-house purposes as well. Whether it’s training workshops or onboarding exercises, more organizations will carry them out virtually. So, this will lead to virtual event solutions like virtual training weeks and company get-togethers.
Moving To the Metaverse
Major companies like Apple and Meta are experimenting with the metaverse. While it is currently most relevant to video games and other VR experiences, it will soon make its appearance in the event industry. vFairs is already making progress in this regard, with custom and inclusive avatars and high interactivity for virtual attendees. Over time, as the concept gets more commonplace, hosting virtual events may well involve VR technology.
AI & Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are quite prevalent these days. Of course, they were bound to make their entry into the virtual event experience as well. They are already present in the data collection and reporting procedures. They let companies gather large amounts of information and compile them in easier formats.
There will be a rise in on-demand content. This is because such content allows viewers to access it at their own convenience. Therefore, it is perfect for global audiences in different time zones. In addition, if companies record their live events and leave them online over a long time period, they can get more engagement and interaction. So, on-demand content will increase over the coming year. Pre-recorded content can have the same impact, especially if it’s downloadable.
All of these trends bode well for the virtual event industry. Therefore, you should get on board sooner rather than later to be part of this progress.
Which Event Type Will Be Big in 2024?
In-person events were well and truly back in 2023 and beyond, but they have changed for good. Due to virtual fatigue and the sheer need for face-to-face communication, many people are more comfortable with the hybrid event model. Wherever it’s applicable, companies will prefer it over exclusively virtual events. Therefore, it brings hybrid and in-person events almost neck-to-neck in popularity comparison.
We ran a poll on LinkedIn and asked event profs how they want to host their business events in 2024. Here’s what they said:
- In-Person: 35%
- Hybrid: 34%
- Virtual: 29%
- Others: 2%
An interesting takeaway from the poll is that virtual events are still not that far behind. While we may think that the trend is shifting back to in-person and hybrid – the split isn’t glaringly uneven. Therefore, virtual event solutions providers are now pivoting to expand their in-person and hybrid event tech offerings for more on-ground support.
What These Virtual Event Stats Infer
Here are a few points which sum up how virtual events will only grow over the coming year.
- Companies continue to use virtual event solutions along with physical events.
- Hybrid events utilize virtual event solutions and often have the same providers.
- More and more companies are going at least partially remote.
- Virtual events remain a big part of the event strategies for NPOs, corporations, the education sector, and the events services industries.
- Hybrid events will see a promising year and are the future of the events space.
- The ideal events for this year will combine virtual event tech-like mobile apps to level up the attendee engagement and overall experience.
In conclusion, virtual events aren’t going anywhere. Therefore, you should prepare for this eventuality. Hybrid and virtual events will be the norm, so you should be at the forefront of this shift.