The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a severe economic disruption around the world, throwing millions of businesses into an abyss of insecurity and uncertainty.
Several hundred have been forced to shut down while others have been struggling to adapt to the new normal of remote working. Even as the world is emerging region by region from the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the after-effects of the disruption continue to dominate global sentiment.
How did the pandemic alter the corporate event landscape?
Countless business events across the world were cancelled to check the spread of the virus. And thus, a spree of event cancellation notices cluttered the inboxes of B2B audiences at the beginning of the pandemic.
In-person events seemed impractical not only because of the logistics but also because of the grave health risks they posed. Though the events were a vital touchpoint for B2B marketers looking to engage with their customers prior to the pandemic, they suddenly seemed like things of the past as months passed by. While the pandemic was tightening its claws around the world economy, businesses were struggling to find ways to interact with their customers without compromising on health and safety.
Enter virtual events
The restrictions on mobility prompted a paradigm shift in the way meetings and events were carried out. Governments, schools and organizations—big and small—began shifting from in-person gatherings to virtual events. While the adoption of virtual conferences and webinars was already demonstrating an upward graph before the pandemic, it witnessed an exponential rise amidst the lockdown.
The global market began realizing that virtual events were more than just a backup plan –they opened up limitless opportunities.
How big is the virtual event market?
According to a market analysis report by Grand View Research, the global virtual events market size was valued at USD 77.98 billion in 2019 and was set to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 23% between 2020 and 2027. The report also stated that as more and more marketers opt for virtual events, investments in the tools, technology, and infrastructure needed to drive digital production are rapidly increasing.
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Are virtual events really a good idea? Let us find out!
Virtual events use web-based platforms to connect dozens to thousands of attendees from across the globe and often include a range of interactive engagement features.
Attendees can join the events from their mobiles or from their computers, from wherever they like. All they need is a stable internet connection. There is no doubt that making the switch from physical to virtual can be a little bumpy for organizers and attendees initially. Nevertheless, one cannot possibly overlook the wide number of advantages that stand testimony to their upper hand over in-person events.
Here are some of the advantages:
Virtual events have the capacity to bring together audiences from any part of the globe. Attendees can join the event instantly without worrying about travel. This way, virtual events enable organizers to increase their attendance figures and get everyone to participate, no matter where they live. The best part? They also bring in the attendees who want to attend the event but are reluctant to give up on the comfort of their homes.
Thus, the hassle-free remote accessibility of virtual events has enabled businesses to capitalize on larger audience groups as compared to physical events.
Saving money and time
Let’s be honest. Physical events are synonymous with limited budgets, limited time and unlimited tasks. By choosing virtual event platforms, organizers can save quite a bit on the costs. This is because a significant chunk of event logistics like venue, staff, travel, accommodation etc. gets reduced or even gets eliminated entirely when it comes to virtual events. The only cost that the organizers need to think about is that of a virtual platform.
Moreover, as the event takes place virtually, the time invested in promotional activities is considerably reduced. Let’s not forget that there is absolutely no travel time involved. And thus, the organizers can devote all this saved-up time towards making their event more impactful. This saved money and time then translate to higher profitability for the organizers.
As we’re aware, collecting feedback is extremely important when it comes to a virtual event as unlike a physical event, the presenter is not able to see the attendees’ reactions.
Interestingly, collecting attendee feedback in virtual events is a lot easier as compared to physical events. Virtual attendees have constant access to interactive engagement features, such as polling, question and answer (Q&A) sessions, and chat boxes. This is beneficial not just in acquiring instant feedback from every attendee but also in measuring the general performance of the event. Most importantly, acquiring proper feedback really helps in planning and forecasting for upcoming organizational events.
This is yet another area where virtual events outshine physical ones.
When it comes to in-person events, keeping a track of each and every attendee can be very cumbersome. However, with a virtual event, as all the steps are carried out digitally, tracking different types of data becomes way easier.
Organizers can access loads of data like how many attendees were there, what were their log times and from where, what was the event app download count, how many used the networking options, how they paid for the event, and a lot more!
To put it simply, the technology for virtual events allows organizers to measure the success of the event in real-time. This data can be used to make any necessary adjustments— as well as to analyze the audience sentiment about the virtual event. Adding a virtual element to events can really help make the most of attendee data.
Great networking opportunities
Networking opportunities hold a lot of importance for any business, especially for B2B marketing strategies. With their live chat options and tag-based interactions, virtual events make networking a smooth affair.
An attendee can also lookup other attendees using their names or emails and connect with them in no time. Moreover, because attendees are not required to move from session to session in a virtual event, making connections with organizers and attendees is quick and efficient. Most importantly, the virtual platform metamorphoses into a channel for both organizers and attendees to stay in touch and develop relationships that transcend the event. Thus, virtual events facilitate ease of collaboration and community building.
These are just some of the benefits that virtual events promise over in-person events!
With every passing day, a number of providers are coming up with easy-to-navigate and user-friendly platforms that are focused on making the virtual event a better experience than what it was yesterday.
At this point, it becomes pertinent to understand that organizations that embrace this transition—the transition from physical to virtual—will be endowed with the capacity to thrive even in the post-pandemic market. Sure, in-person conferences will find their way back to us gradually; but marketers who invest in a digital approach that personalizes their attendees’ experiences are set to reap massive benefits in the near future.
As a digital experience company, Ethosh helps businesses host thoughtfully designed and personalized virtual events for their customers that inform, engage, and delight. Ethosh helps you with everything that you need for hosting a successful virtual event, from pre-event planning to post-event analytics.