There’s nothing like a global pandemic to speed up the much touted digital transformation. The adoption of online meeting and event platforms such as Zoom, GoToWebinar and Hopin has been exponential and, despite the ‘Zoom Gloom’ jokes, most of us have been surprised at how effective these tools have been at enabling us to meet, connect and engage – without leaving home and at a time that suits us.
As we see events and the events industry undergo their own digital transformation, the sentiment now is that for the next 18 months at least, delegates and stakeholders will expect events to be available virtually. Here are four reasons why, in order to meet that expectation, you should consider a virtual offering for your next event.
Reluctance to attend large gatherings or travel
COVID-19 will undoubtedly leave it’s mark on all of us and it is anticipated there will be a fairly large cohort of event attendees who simply do not want to attend large gatherings in the foreseeable future. They may have pre-existing illnesses, have vulnerable family or friends or been banned from attending such events by their employer. They may be more aware of the environmental impact of in-person attendance and object to having to emit vast amounts of carbon to get to a conference. Some may be fearful, whilst for others, attending an event with an armoury of rules, regulations and distancing measures may be as appealing as attending an algebra lecture at 4pm on a Friday afternoon.
This is the risk of spending 12 plus months planning an event only to have it cancelled due to a second/third/fourth wave and more government regulation. It could also be the risk of running an event and having a delegate present with symptoms or being diagnosed as COVID positive in the days after the event. There is also the risk of being responsible for ensuring everyone involved in the event is adhering to the COVID safe plan. Or the risk that the venue will be completely inflexible with regards to changes in government regulations and attrition, leaving you with a huge and complex liability. Offering a live streamed version of your live event almost acts like an insurance policy that you will be able to run the event regardless of what health issue is thrown your way.
Delegates and sponsors are also looking for certainty that the event will go ahead in some shape or form. Offering a virtual component will give confidence and assist with earlier ticket sales and continued engagement post-event.
Virtual events are tapping into audiences that many events would never have been able to attract in their live-only form. This includes international delegates who would never have travelled to attend and delegates who are unable to take time out from work or family schedules for two or three full days. Delegates with disabilities may also find virtual events much more accessible, and then there is the growing group of delegates who will want to be able to consume the content as they like, when they like – just as Netflix et.al is training us to do.
Opening up new audiences
There may come a time when attending a conference will mean you will ALWAYS make a connection with an international delegate. Virtual events simply eliminate geographical barriers to attending conferences, enabling anyone to attend. With a reduced overall cost of attendance you may also attract delegates who would never have attended the live event. Giving them a virtual taste may be the ‘try before they buy’ opportunity they need to invest in live attendance in the future.
The events crystal ball…
is telling us that in some shape or form, virtual events are here to stay. Once we all have a number of virtual and hybrid events under our belts the prediction is there will be even more compelling reasons to offer a virtual component including; concrete proof of ROI, more engaging content and the ability to reach a larger and more diverse audience. The real golden goose however may lie in the rich source of content and data insights that can be utilised to further grow and influence your audience.
If you, like many, are struggling a bit navigating and understanding the new world of virtual events then perhaps we can help. As a live, hybrid and virtual event company that specialises in helping organisations connect with their audiences we’ve collated the top 10 questions we get asked to assist you work through your next virtual event challenge. Check out this and other FREE e-guides here.