The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been drastic all over the world with events and hospitality being among the industries that are hardest hit by the global crisis.
With physical events rendered nearly impossible due to the current situation, virtual conferencing solutions have been trending with virtual events becoming the new normal.
As an event organizer, you might be wondering what are the future implications of the rise of virtual events for the events industry at large. In this in-depth blog, we take a look at the current status and the future of virtual events in 2020.
Impact of COVID-19 on Virtual Events and Conferences
The truth is that nobody really knew how important virtual events and conferences would become in 2020. The effects of COVID-19 on the events industry were unprecedented as it just wasn’t possible for physical events to be held on schedule.
As the industry pivoted to the virtual space, understanding how a virtual conference platform works became vital for event organizers and brands.
You could argue that hosting online events is something that most organizers and brands have some experience with but in the new normal of the post-COVID-19 world, virtual events have simply become necessary for survival.
Even though remote meeting technology has existed for a long time, today’s virtual events platforms are a completely different beast. The current philosophy for virtual events platforms is to create a seamless event experience for the attendees that is as close to the experience of a real event as possible.
As a result, if you want to host a virtual event in 2020, you need to step up your game. You need to use an awesome virtual events platform that makes it easy to provide your attendees with the virtual experience they deserve.
Some of the common features that have become important for virtual events in 2020 include virtual halls, virtual lobbies, integrated sponsor placement, engagement features such as Q&A, polls, and more.
For most people, COVID-19’s impact on the events industry can be devastating. However, it is entirely possible that the current situation in the event industry is not just bad news but also an opportunity.
Virtual events come with a list of benefits that are powerful in their own way. It has been proven that a hybrid virtual conference can be more engaging than just a physical event but we just might learn that virtual events are a cost-effective and powerful way to step up your events game with benefits that you can take advantage of for years to come.
Hosting Online Events – The New Normal?
Virtual meetings were already being used by companies around the world and it would be fair to say that remote meeting technology has reached a point where virtual meetings and face-to-face meetings are almost equal.
The question is, can the same be said about virtual events and physical events? 2020 might be the year where hosting online events became a necessity but will they be a vital part of the events industry beyond 2020?
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why this might be the case:
#1. A new paradigm in the events industry
It is clear from the success of virtual conferencing solutions that virtual events are not just a trend or gimmick but represent a real shift in the events industry.
Think about it – virtual events make it easy for anyone in the world to be invited to your event, they are more cost-effective and come with a lot of other benefits highlighted below.
Virtual events and conferences are definitely here to stay and are a part of the paradigm shift in the industry that will definitely and dramatically change the industry in the years to come.
#2. Virtual events leveraging the power of technology
Technology is a vital part of our lives and has changed the world in a myriad number of ways. Virtual events leverage the power of technologies such as remote meeting technology, live streaming, and the internet.
The right virtual conference platform combines a number of different technologies to create a seamless event experience for the attendees. This means that if you really want to leverage the power of modern technology for your events, it’s time to give virtual events serious thought and consideration.
#3. Digital-first events in a digital-first world
If the quarantine during the pandemic has shown us anything, it is the fact that we’re living in a digital-first world.
The rise of social media, streaming services, and online marketplaces have shown us that the world is digital-first and everything we need can be found over the internet.
Keeping this development in mind, it is not really a surprise that digital-first virtual events make total sense. Virtual events can provide increased engagement for your events by plugging into the digital-first philosophy of the world at large.
#4. Virtual events cater to a global audience
The concept of a hybrid virtual conference originally evolved as a means to invite more people to get value out of your events. By opening up your event to virtual attendees, you have the potential to increase the range of your audience.
Virtual events, just like hybrid events, are open to a global audience. Anyone, at any place, can be a part of your event as long as they have a decent internet connection. This means that you have a chance to not only reach new audience segments but also meaningfully engage with them and create experiences that are literally catered to them.
#5. Virtual events are cost-effective
Another benefit of virtual events over physical events is that they are much more cost-effective. For example, they lower a lot of overhead costs such as booking the venue, training staff, etc.
Of course, virtual events have their own costs attached such as the cost of the virtual conference platform and costs of creating content but they are much lower when compared to the overall cost of hosting physical events.
Virtual events are also much cost-effective for your attendees as various expenses like travel, accommodation, etc can be avoided when the event is a virtual one instead of a physical one.
#6. Easier to manage events and networking
Events are never easy to manage but virtual events are significantly easier to manage when compared to physical events. Virtual conferencing solutions offer a number of management features and engagement tools that help you in managing the event and your attendees in networking.
Features such as dedicated custom exhibits, live chat, etc, can be highly useful when it comes to virtual events such as virtual trade shows, expos, job fairs, etc.
#7. It is easier to leverage the power of social media with virtual events
We all know the power of social media marketing in today’s world. Getting traction on social media is great for any event and can help a lot when it comes to spreading the word of your event.
With virtual events, leveraging the power of social media is really easy. Most virtual events platforms usually offer integrated social media features that help in marketing and getting the word out.
Overall, it is easier to share your event’s highlights on social media when you’re hosting online events as almost all the content of the event is digital and easily shareable. Virtual events platforms also make it easier for the attendees to share their experiences of the virtual event.
#8. Virtual events help in community development
Lastly, virtual events are really important when it comes to community development and creating engagement for your event.
As mentioned above in this blog, virtual events platforms have integrated social media features that make it really easy to share your event’s content on social media platforms. This helps massively when it comes to creating engagement and developing the community for your event online.
How to do it right?
Now that we’ve taken a look at what virtual events mean for 2020, here are some key tips on how to do them right:
#1. Create content that suits the digital medium
It is possible to use the content made for physical events in virtual events too but to get the best results you should create content that takes advantage of the digital format.
#2. Encourage engagement
Engagement is the soul of any event and it is important to get it right when it comes to your virtual events too. Fortunately, virtual events platforms such as Dreamcast’s virtual events platform include powerful engagement features such as polls, live chat, Q&A, and more! Here are top 10 tips to engage attendees at virtual events.
#3. Use the right platform
Lastly, your virtual event is only as good as the virtual event platform you use. If you’re new to virtual events like most people, it is better to take a deep look at the features provided by the virtual events platform.