Shortly into the year 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought our lives to a screeching halt.
In various parts of the world, physical gatherings were outlawed in order to mitigate the spread of the virus. For the same reason, a number of major events (e.g., The Tokyo Olympics, The Bonnaroo Music & Art Festival, The iHeartRadio Music Awards, and others) either got cancelled or were postponed.
Many organizations started to struggle amidst the state of lock-down. People who were quarantined at their homes only venture outdoors to seek essentials. Places where people usually gather, like malls and parks, stood bare. In all of this, It could not be determined when life would get back to its normal path.
Since all kinds of activities were suddenly impacted all around the globe, there was no tangible way to meet partners, investors, employees, or other shareholders, from local to foreign. Despite all the roadblocks of meeting in-person, there was no choice but to completely cancel the upcoming events. With physical events on hold, organizations that were flexible enough to adapt virtual alternatives were the ones that could survive the unforecasted challenges that were drawn up the world. These progressive, quick-to-act businesses therefore began to gravitate toward virtual platforms for hosting their events.
Organizations switching to virtual events
The global events industry size was valued at $1,100 billion in 2018 and is expected to surge at a growth rate of 10.3% to reach $2,330 billion by 2026.
A number of businesses, companies, and educational institutes have moved to virtual events after a sudden disruption in their plans due to COVID19. Many companies announced that they will be hosting their events online because of the convenience as well as cost-effectiveness. Since adopting virtual technologies has also been the need of the hour, many industries began to host virtual events in place of their regular in-person events.
After all, the switch was not only essential for preventing major financial loss, but also for proving the agility of the management in times of crisis. This is the reason we can see that in place of a physical meeting, even the Northeast Astronomy Forum 2020 chose to hold a virtual conference. They adapted to fit in with the virtual environment by making use of features like live streams, product demo, and giveaways.
The situation now raises a concern…
How companies are engaging through a virtual event?
1. Strategies that boost sizable audience
Since the idea of virtual events is a novel concept for many, it is important to keep the audience updated. Successful event organizers use social media and email marketing to build a pre-hype for their events.
Virtual event platforms provide their clients with the CRM integrations to set multitrack agendas and notifications once they register. For this reason, a sound communication system is essential. It’s important to keep an effective contact loop running with your attendees through social media, email, and other means to constantly remind them about the value you’re offering.
Using personalized marketing automation can also be a roaring success for your event. This is where we see another advantage of virtual over physical events: they provide more opportunities for personalization.
Here’s how it works for you as an organizer:
- CRM: Helps you simplify your communication process with your stakeholders.
- Digital promotions: Using social media / your own website, you can get the word out and include a CTA for your prospects to register easily.
- Email marketing: Can include a video and a registration link to invite your attendees.
2. Features that foster better communication
Virtual events are greatly dependent on:
- Videos and interactive webinars
- 1:1 and group chats in real-time
With a livestream video you can’t go wrong, as it is an all-rounder that allows you to brainstorm, present ideas, deliver demos, and much more. If you integrate a livestream into a virtual event, your stakeholders can:
- Attend sessions individually from the comfort of their homes.
- Set their schedule to match their time zones.
- Participate via polls, Q&A sessions, and surveys during or after the session.
- Display the key streams live right on the website.
- Make use of the on-demand feature enabling them to view content post-event.
Your participants will enjoy valuable discussions regardless of the geography or individual agenda, just as they would enjoy them if they were present in the same room.
Long-term impact on the meetings industry?
The growing popularity of virtual events is expected to bring a huge amount of value to the events industry. This is evident through:
- The increasing efficiency to generate reports and measure the events’ performance
- Building more accurate and relevant networks by engaging audiences online, regardless of their geographical limitations (also making the subsequent in-person experience even more pleasant)
So in a way, instead of cannibalizing physical events, online events complement them by developing a connection among attendees, especially in the socially distanced world that we live in today.
The evolution of virtual penetration can be categorized into 3 phases:
- Crisis management during unpredictable times such as the existing pandemic
- Integration of digital as means of diversification and increased reach
- With more tech acceptability, organizations will start relying more on effective online tools
By the time we’re able to make it through the COVID-19 crisis, the event industry is expected to witness more and more companies, small and large, switching to virtual events as part of their business strategy. This does not mean that in-person events will be churn out completely by virtual solutions. However, digital events would still continue to act as the shining star of the events industry, serving a more intensified experience to users and audiences.
Should you shift from physical to virtual events?
Rather than spending precious time, resources, and energy on planning the physical event despite all the roadblocks — change course and host a virtual event!
It’s worth switching to virtual events during these unprecedented times to generate revenues and keep the company running, even if the change is deemed temporary.
So even though you have never previously organized an event online, you can still quickly adapt and manipulate the present predicament to the fullest. Here’s a quick and simple way to move your event online.
Renaissance, among other businesses, was quick to act during the COVID crisis. They moved their annual roadshows in Ireland to a virtual platform with vFairs, resulting in outperforming all their previous results from any other events that they ever hosted. Read more on how Renaissance set its very first virtual event up for success.
At present, successful companies are those who are ready to pivot quickly, accept innovation and technology, and transform when the situation calls for it. There is no better time to switch your strategy than now. Whether you attend as a participant or an organizer, you will be amazed by the avenues and opportunities that this will open up for you, and the leads it ought to drive.
Take this as an opportunity to transform by embracing virtual events quickly before your competitors jump on the bandwagon.
Don’t be afraid to turn the tables — we’ve got your back!
Read More: The Ultimate Guide to a Virtual Event.
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.