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The Coronavirus outbreak has already doled heavy losses to businesses stationed in China. However, the impact has now truly become international as according to The Guardian, the global economy is going to experience a loss of almost $1 trillion due to decreased mobility and reduced business activity. Countries around the world have taken urgent action on face-to-face activity and public gatherings due to health concerns. The US and Australia have already announced travel restrictions recently and the Middle East region has clamped down on the issue by issuing travel bans on certain aviation routes, especially from South East Asia and Iran. During these grave times, organizations are looking towards viable alternatives to remain connected with customers, prospects and stakeholders and the natural inclination is to explore how online technology can assist in this situation. Here are a few online channels that will likely see a surge of activity in coming times:
Malls, retail outlets, restaurants & other brick-and-mortar stores are bracing for a decline in footfall across the world. Advisory firm, Coresight Research, predicts that 58% of US consumers are expected to avoid public areas. Similarly, usually busy malls in Hong Kong are deserted, UAE’s luxury retailers are taking a hit due to absence of Chinese tourists and major brands are shuttering offices in the UK. As a result, companies will have to shift focus on their online delivery channels and expect a surge of demand. This means operational units will need to plan more aggressive stocking and sufficient staffing to ensure timely fulfillment of placed orders. Services like Amazon Prime are already seeing a reaction of the virus outbreak with shoppers stocking up on goods and an anomalous rise in demand on certain items.
With offices shutting down, companies are approving work-from-home policies to protect staff from the virus threat. Several firms have already adopted online conferencing tools like Zoom and Webex for communication and meetings (both services have already noticed a rise in commercial activity). Companies with large employee bases situated in the US like Microsoft, Twitter & Amazon have have issued notices to staff in certain offices to work remotely until further notice. In fact, the UK government is contemplating the idea of asking the general public to work from home for at least 3 months after 50+ cases were confirmed in the region. Thus, online communication and collaboration tools, apart from email, will now become a necessity to ensure orderly office operations. This will require additional funds to be allocated for online subscriptions and procurement departments to quickly issue accounts to employees. Not to mention, productivity will likely take a hit as some sectors will take time to adjust to the new mode of operation.
The virus threat has also forced premature curtain calls on several physical events, conferences and trade shows. Recently, a string of cancellations and postponement announcements were issued owing to public safety. Some prominent events, among several others, that got cancelled are:
Organizers had to bear huge losses due to cancellations in the form of refunds, sponsorship withdrawals and sunk expenses associated with logistics & marketing. According to some reports, tech industry is set to lose nearly half a billion dollars owing to how the Coronavirus outbreak forced them to call off events. While face-to-face contact with potential clients is hard to substitute, firms are attempting to move their events online to offset losses. Trade fairs in Germany are looking towards virtual event platforms and Adobe have already switched their Summit to an online-only event. In fact, we at vFairs, have also recorded a massive surge of inquiries from all over the world for our virtual event platform. Universities, event organizers and corporations are actively looking to replace their cancelled job fairs, trade shows and conferences with an online substitute and, that too, in very short time spans. vFairs is making adjustments to serve the rise in demand and support companies to simulate the physical events through visually rich interfaces, chat tools and webinars.
These are unprecedentedly hard times for businesses around the world. As “physical presence” becomes a limitation, online avenues will have to bear most of the burden during this period. It’s important that companies plan ahead and sketch out comprehensive migration plans to make a graceful transition. Frequent communication of policies and updates will be critical, especially for firms with multi-national presence.
At vFairs.com, we strive to build a top-class online event platform that will help event organizers make memorable connections with their target audience. We’re obsessed with taking out the hassle normally associated with physical events and leaving organizers and exhibitors to focus on what’s most important: engagement with the audience.
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