It’s been a lot of figuring it out as we go these past two years or so, but we’ve certainly learnt a lot and as we move forward into a new era of events, it’s time our event strategies reflected what we’ve been through.
Virtual events have become a central hub of connection for businesses and organisers during the pandemic - and this isn’t changing anytime soon. If anything, businesses will begin to rely more on virtual events. The fact is that virtual events are growing in demand.
Even though COVID restrictions are lowering in many places, 90% of companies are still considering hosting virtual events and the virtual event market size is estimated to grow 23.7% between 2021 and 2028. This shows that virtual events are transitioning away from a necessity, and into a strategic choice alongside physical events.
This comes down to three reasons: virtual events continue to generate value after the initial event, the hybrid combination of in-person and virtual events, and the quickly developing market of virtual events. In other words, this is only the beginning.
From root to rise, virtual events keep giving
There’s no denying in-person events are fun and valuable experiences. There is something incredibly satisfying about walking into a room full of people happily chatting about things you care about. It’s the conversations and personal connections with people that make these events so special. In-person events centre around bringing people together, and they do that well.
Virtual events also do this, but can often offer far more for far less because of the simple fact that virtual events cost around 75% less than in-person ones. This means you can spend the money that would have gone into the costs of in-person events (such as transport, catering and other venue expenses) on something else. You can choose to invest in sought-after field experts from all over the world or gain more financially by raising your profit margins. This is because these returns don’t only benefit businesses, they also benefit attendees.
Since virtual events have no physical limitations, they can sell tickets to more people, for less money. Larger audiences also mean that sponsor value increases and so businesses can charge more for these spaces.
These are the obvious reasons for throwing a virtual event - but perhaps even better is the continued gain value after the event happens. By broadcasting or re-sharing parts of an event, businesses can continue to bring in revenue via recurring traffic to their webpage. This also opens the opportunity for personalised SEO, by giving businesses the ability to target the right individuals with segments and videos from their event which can then lead to higher attendance for the next event. Virtual events give you the unique ability to collect detailed data about the engagement and value extracted from each event. Information about where, how, and when people engaged with your event, collected and neatly organised means you can efficiently analyse the way you succeed - and what you can improve for your next event.
Lastly, let's touch on that point about in-person event connections. While in-person events are amazing ways to meet people, I think we all know that feeling where you say you’ll reach out to someone, but by the end of the day you can’t quite remember who that person is or why you needed to talk to them. Even worse, you no longer know how to reach them.
That’s not really a problem for virtual events. The person who you had a great chat with? Connect with them on LinkedIn right away, or easily collate and organise the many emails you’ve received. So while a breakout room and a chat box don’t always make up for a shared coffee or a handshake - they definitely give you the links you need to network efficiently. Plus, it's not like you can’t take them out for a coffee in the future!
As Tame's Senior Events & Meetings Planner, Anna Eduard Zoric explains:
“I strongly believe that event managers should take the time and look into the multiple opportunities that virtual and hybrid events offer, and choose the platform that fits best for accomplishing the strategic goals of the event they are planning. It is worth keeping an eye on the development in the virtual and hybrid area, since we are only at the beginning of what these event types can offer, both technically and in terms of creating event experiences and attendee engagement."
"It is not just a question of only choosing to plan a virtual or physical event, but always asking the question: Which event type will ensure me to reach my strategic objectives best?”
Ultimately, all of this shows how much value adding virtual events to your strategy can provide. It’s not a case of choosing virtual or in-person, with their efficiency and the right platform to help you do it, virtual events can be such a powerful supplement to your event plans.
In-person + Virtual = Hybrid
Virtual events can become the stepping point for in-person events or they can combine forces to create a unique hybrid event. With the opportunity to bring together people from all over the world, virtual events connect you to the people who care the most about what your event is offering and in-person touches can make that meeting all the more special.
It’s an exciting time to enter the hybrid event field. As event managers, you can utilise the wide audience, bigger potential participant numbers and lower costs of virtual events by investing in new and unique ways of blending the physical in virtual experiences of attendees. This could include sending related materials to audience members. For example, if you plan on launching a new product or app, you can give pre-access to your attendees by sending them the product or linking them to the app so that by the time the virtual event arrives, attendees will know the right questions and companies can get feedback on user experience.
Events that occur simultaneously online and in-person can connect attendees across mediums by using tablets or other tech tools. One example may be that in-person attendees can do ‘speed-networking’ with online attendees where they chat over video with each other as in-person attendees move around the physical space. Event limitations are now only constrained by the event manager’s creativity. As Anna shares,
“In my opinion, and from experience, I’m also slowly seeing a tendency that attendees invited to participate in physical events will demand that virtual participation will be offered as an alternative, when they are not able to make it physically.”
Certainly food for thought when it comes to planning your next events.
The budding field of virtual event strategy
This isn’t to say we aren’t all crazy excited to see each other after these last two years of separation - but maybe save that excitement for the dinner parties and concerts. After all, it doesn't seem like work-from-home is going anywhere. This means the virtual connection is the future of business, and so why wouldn’t B2B events follow suit to fit our new ways of working and interacting? As the world has evolved to become increasingly media literate and reliant on a virtual workforce, so will the way we throw events.
It’s already happening. According to Impact, an event and marketing agency, 59.4% of responding event managers think hybrid event strategies will make up the majority of the events they run in 2021, while 34% of marketers and event organisers are already adding hybrid events to event strategies and are planning to invest more in them. All of this is happening, despite the fact that 76% of responding event managers have never hosted a hybrid event before. This means, getting in now and honing your virtual and hybrid event skills will put you at the front of a leading global market.
If you’re looking to add virtual events to your strategy, here at Tame we’ve got all the resources you need to get started. And with complete support and full onboarding sessions, we’re here to help. Reach out to us to book in your personalised demo and let us show you all the tools you need to get started with virtual and hybrid event planning. We’ll be with you every step of the way.
Market Research.com, Virtual Event Software Market Forecast to 2028
Market Research.com, Virtual Events Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report
Market Research.com, Virtual Event Platform Market with COVID-19 Impact by Component
Impact, About Us
Bizzabo, The Evolution of Events Report