One year ago, we were in anticipation of the wonder drug or wonder vaccine to rid us of the awful virus and to get us back to normal. Digitalisation received a strong boost, and we all learned what remote work is all about. Most events migrated to the virtual world overnight.
Well, the vaccine arrived (be it a wonderful one, or not), but not much has changed. At least, the new “normal” is preserving much of the traits, which were introduced during last year’s lock-downs. Remote work and virtual events are obviously here to stay. As it seems, virtualisation will remain in full force even after the Covid pandemic.
No one has studied “virtual events” or “digital event services” at university. Only in 2019 virtual events were considered an innovation, which few utilised. Obviously, none of us was brought up with virtual events’ insights. Yet, like everything, virtual events have their peculiarities, traits, and requirements. Here are the virtual event essentials, which all who conduct such, or who participate in such, must know, follow and utilise:
This is one of the positive traits of virtual events. They provide an extended reach. If for a live event, say a concert in a hall, there were some physical limitations (e.g. the size of the concert hall – say 5000 seats), virtual events have no limitations. They may easily be attended by 10 000, 100 000 or 1 000 000.
Every physical event is more-or-less local (even if people travel from afar to attend). Virtual events are by definition global. The only restriction for attendance is the ones imposed by the organisers themselves.
The extended reach trait is not only about the number of attendees and lack of geographic boundaries. What is also true for virtual events is that they increase the attendance of participants who would otherwise not have visited the live event. This could be for reasons of convenience, lack of time to travel, frustration from large crowds, or contamination, and what have you. All such people may easily afford to attend virtual events.
Virtual events by their nature cost less to organise than any similar physical event. This is true in absolute terms and is even more true as costs for the organisation per attendee.
Stronger Audience Engagement
For live events, especially with large audiences (like the above 5000 example), it is impossible to organise any reasonable interactivity. Audience engagement is usually limited to the clapping of the hands. The attendees are too many, the interest is too high, all of which renders full interaction and engagement impossible.
This is not the case with virtual events. These provide a huge array of interaction with the audience. Additional materials may be distributed. Polls may be included. Questions may be answered. If all of the 5000 attendees were to ask a couple of questions, this could still be handled by a dedicated team, answering by e-mail.
For more innovative virtual events this could also be done using AI. The bottom line is that virtual events provide a much better opportunity for attendee engagement.
Better Quality of Content
Better quality of the content of virtual events is not a feature. Rather it is something to which all virtual event organisers should strive for. The reason? Well, if it is more difficult to walk out of the concert hall in the middle of the concert itself (even if you hate the performance), it is extremely easy to exit a virtual event. All it takes is pressing just one button.
Hence virtual events’ organisers should strive to have much more compelling content than they would otherwise.
Virtual events do not require huge masses of people to travel halfway across the world to participate. They do not require long preparation, heating, cooling, lights, and all the other amenities of a physical live event.
At virtual events, all attendees can be present from the comfort of their own homes (or offices). This is why virtual events have a much smaller (if any) carbon footprint in relation to physical events.
Virtual events received a boost during the first days of the pandemic and the imposed lock-downs. The reason is that virtual events do not stipulate human proximity. Hence viruses (at least the COVID one) cannot spread from person to person.
Actually, virtual events are generally safer than physical ones. There is no danger of terrorists, natural calamities, or any other danger, which exists when attending a live event.
Better Value for Sponsors
Virtual events provide much better opportunities to the event sponsors. Where for physical events they had little more than the opportunity to put up an ad, now they can engage the audience with all sorts of additional promotional materials, questionnaires, additional awards and promotions, and … yes, ads.
The extended reach, the increased attendance, and the additional opportunities provide sponsors of virtual events with much better exposure.
Know Your Attendees
Do you think it is possible to establish beyond any doubt the average age of the attendees to a physical football match? Definitely not. People just buy tickets, and they enter the event. Organisers do not know where they came from, how old they are, what gender, etc. Virtual events are exactly the opposite. People register with their names and e-mails, which can easily be then crossed with social media performance to receive insights about the attendees, which even they may not be aware of.
It is also clear when they entered the event, how long they stayed, what questions they asked, … technically everything. Organisers can now benefit from having the full picture of who attended their virtual events.
Furthermore, such personal data can easily be used for follow-up sales. Technically all virtual event attendees become leads for the event organisers. Actually, even “warm” leads, as not only the personal data of the attendees is known, but also their interest in the event topics. Live physical events have a lot to catch up to, and it is doubtful if they ever will.
Virtual Event Services
In order to benefit from all of the above virtual event traits, it is reasonable to utilise the services of a virtual event management company that provides virtual event management services. Organisers will not only benefit from these services but will evade costly and dangerous mistakes, which experienced online event management companies know all too well.
True that there may be some recordings of famous live physical concerts or cricket live physical matches.
However, with virtual events, recording them has never been easier. This, of course, increases yet the penetration of the event in the public. The recording may be posted on the organiser’s website or on various social medial platforms and from here on it begins to have a life of its own. New attendees can view it, like it, share it with colleagues and friends, new sponsor commercials may be posted alongside, new audience interaction can happen. … Forever.
Virtual events are here to stay, with local audio visual hire companies equipped to drive your live webcasting and virtual events. Even after the pandemic, they provide a much greater value to all parties involved. If there is a return to live events, it will surely be also usually paired with a virtual event (“Hybrid events”).