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The Future of Virtual Events

2022 was quite the year for event organizers! They had the freedom to explore different ways of hosting their events, which was truly exciting.

Technology Wearable Technology Trends
  • Release Date: 25 July 2023
  • Author: Speaker Agency

The Future of Virtual Events

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2022 was quite the year for event organizers! They had the freedom to explore different ways of hosting their events, which was truly exciting. 

Now, as we move into 2023, it's time to address a burning question: will virtual events continue to play a significant role in the event industry? 

Join us as we dive into some predictions and explore the future of the ever-evolving event landscape. Get ready to discover the exciting possibilities that lie ahead!

Understanding the evolution of virtual events

Let's take a trip down memory lane to April 2020, when the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic hit the world. B2B organizations everywhere were uncertain, and physical human interaction seemed like a distant dream. 

We were bombarded with phrases like "pivot," "new normal," and "unprecedented times" in our daily lives. For event planners, it was a whirlwind of chaos. They were used to being nimble, always having backup plans from A to Z, but this situation pushed them to venture into uncharted territory. 

Deadlines and schedules suddenly took a backseat as they dove headfirst into exploring online event platforms and virtual conferences. Amid it all, CMOs were canceling or postponing customer-facing marketing events, and the shift towards B2B online events gained momentum. 

Fast forward to May 2021, as vaccines rolled out and COVID-19 restrictions started easing, there was a yearning for a return to normalcy. However, the truth is that work-related travel wasn't at the top of anyone's agenda. This led to the realization that virtual events are here to stay, but they are transforming hybrid meetings. 

By now, the virtual world has opened up a new realm of possibilities, offering cost savings, broader audience reach, and access to a wealth of talent and experts. 

However, with the growing number of virtual conferences, it's no surprise that people's schedules and attention spans are feeling the strain. 

According to Aventri, an event management software company, 89% of event organizers believe that virtual or hybrid events will continue to play a critical role in their event strategy. This is even when in-person meetings resume post-pandemic. So, despite the challenges and the battle for attention, virtual and hybrid events are here to stay. 

The advantages and challenges of virtual events

Here are the advantages of virtual events:

Accessibility

One of the amazing things about virtual events is their accessibility. We all have internet connections and devices like smartphones, tablets, or laptops, so we're eligible to attend or organize these events. The best part? It doesn't matter where you are. 

With a finger tap, you can join or reach out to your targeted audience virtually.

Virtual events can also be made inclusive for those with disabilities. When you incorporate assistive technologies like sign language interpreters, closed captions, and other accessibility features, you can ensure everyone can participate and feel welcomed. 

Cost

Traditional in-person events can be expensive, with various elements like event area, catering, equipment, furniture, electricity, and security adding to the budget. It often leads to sleepless nights, worries about a tight budget, and on-site mishaps.

To give you an example, imagine organizing an event for 200 people. You must arrange seating, tea breaks, and refreshments for all attendees. Additionally, you'd require a Webcam, a good microphone, headphones, and your trusty laptop.

But here's where virtual events shine! By going virtual, you can significantly reduce costs. Instead of the expenses associated with physical venues, you can hire a virtual event planner to help you set up the system. Virtual events can slash your expenses by almost 70% or even more.

Challenges of virtual events

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Technology Issues

One of the significant challenges of virtual events is dealing with technical difficulties. Poor internet connections, software glitches, and audio or video disruptions can disrupt the event flow and affect attendees' experience.

Audience Engagement

Engaging virtual attendees can be more challenging compared to in-person events. It can be difficult to capture and maintain attendees' attention and ensure active participation throughout the event.

Networking and Relationship Building

Building connections and fostering networking opportunities can be more challenging in a virtual setting. Without face-to-face interactions, it can be harder for attendees to establish meaningful connections and engage in informal conversations.

Hybrid events: Combining virtual and in-person experiences

Hybrid events are the perfect blend of virtual and in-person experiences. Imagine hosting an event where attendees can join in person or participate remotely through a virtual platform. It's the best of both worlds.

With hybrid events, you can cater to the diverse preferences of your attendees. Some people love the energy and networking opportunities of attending in-person events, while others prefer the convenience and flexibility of joining virtually. By offering both options, you ensure that everyone can participate in a way that suits them best.

Whether someone wants to attend physically or join from the comfort of their home or office, the choice is theirs. This flexibility accommodates different schedules, travel limitations, and even budget constraints. For example, a person from another country might be unable to attend an in-person event due to travel restrictions, but they can easily join the virtual experience.

Leveraging technology to enhance attendee engagement

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To enhance attendee engagement, leveraging technology is key. Let's explore some strategies to make your event interactive and memorable.

Incorporate gamification

Gamification adds an element of fun and competition to your event, encouraging attendees to participate actively. You can create games, quizzes, or challenges related to your event's theme or content. For example, you could have a scavenger hunt where attendees need to find specific information or engage in friendly competitions with leaderboard rankings. By incorporating gamification, you create a sense of excitement and encourage attendees to interact with your event on a deeper level.

Find subject experts and influencers

Seek out subject experts and influencers in your industry who can add value to your event. These individuals bring expertise and insights, captivating attendees with their knowledge and experiences. They can participate as keynote speakers, panelists or even host interactive workshops. By featuring influential speakers, you provide attendees with valuable content and inspire engaging discussions.

Create a custom hashtag

Social media plays a significant role in event engagement. By creating a custom hashtag specific to your event, you encourage attendees to share their experiences, thoughts, and photos across various social platforms. This generates buzz and allows attendees to connect beyond the event itself. 

For example, a technology conference might have a hashtag like #TechConnect2023. Attendees can use this hashtag to share insights, ask questions, and connect with like-minded individuals.

Ensuring a positive attendee experience in virtual events

  • Choose a virtual event platform that is intuitive and user-friendly, ensuring attendees can easily navigate and access event features without technical difficulties.
  • Clearly communicate instructions on joining the virtual event, accessing sessions, engaging in networking opportunities, and utilizing interactive features. Step-by-step guides or tutorial videos can be helpful.
  • Have a dedicated support team available to assist attendees with any technical issues they may encounter during the event. 
  • Encourage attendee participation through interactive features such as polls, Q&A sessions, and chat functions. 
  • Facilitate networking among attendees through virtual breakout rooms, networking lounges, or discussion boards. 
  • Offer recorded sessions or content for attendees to access at their convenience. This allows flexibility for attendees with scheduling conflicts or who want to revisit sessions later.
  • Curate diverse, engaging content, including keynote speakers, panel discussions, interactive workshops, and live demonstrations.
  • After the event, send out surveys or feedback forms to attendees, asking for their input on their virtual event experience. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I make my virtual event successful?

To make your virtual event successful, plan with clear goals, choose the right virtual event platform, promote effectively, and provide engaging content for attendees.

What are some ways to incorporate networking into virtual events?

Incorporate networking into virtual events by hosting breakout rooms, facilitating speed networking sessions, using chat functions, and organizing virtual networking games or icebreaker activities.

What is the market value of webinars and virtual events expected to be?

The market value of webinars and virtual events is projected to experience significant growth, reaching billions of dollars, driven by factors like cost-effectiveness, accessibility, and wider audience reach.

What technology do I need to host a successful virtual event?

To host a successful virtual event, you need a reliable virtual event platform, high-speed internet connection, video and audio equipment, presentation tools, and an online registration and ticketing system.

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