When Marlon Brando, aka The Godfather, said, “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse,” we didn’t know it would be relevant to the times we are living in. Some offers are just too good to pass on. And virtual events are one such offering. They turned from being the need of the hour to the must-have of the decade pretty quickly.
Audiences love the intimate experience virtual events have to offer. Getting all the benefits of meeting face-to-face without having to change out of pajamas has grown on people. Virtual is the new reality for project kickoffs, annual board meetings, marketing summits, team huddles, and so many other use cases that have become normalized in global business culture in our digitally transformed world.
“We have covered a decade in days in digital adoption,” according to a report by McKinsey. And though many trends may fade out once countries start opening up and economies recover, remote working promises to be an enduring trend as engaging online is now considered a “face-to-face” meeting.
Virtual Events: The New Normal of the Events Industry
Pauline Kwasniak, a digital event professional and B2B content marketing expert, says, “Virtual is not just a trend, it's also about inclusion as well as access to education, resources, and people. I can compare it to books. Growing up in the 90s, we had to buy encyclopedias to get assignments and homework done. Today, all a student needs to do is Google it. But, even with such a massive influence of the internet in our lives, did books die or stop existing? No. People still write. They still like to buy books. There is an added layer to a reader’s convenience, called digital reading and writing. Today, I can access thousands of books and articles online. I save time and money both by doing so. The same goes for virtual events. I see the following more or less the same footsteps.”
Apple’s flagship product launch was done virtually in April. So was their Worldwide Developer Conference. Microsoft is announcing what’s next for Windows in June. Thus, embracing the trend of hosting their events online to reach a wider audience.
And it is not only the technology giants going virtual and developers being early adopters. One of the world’s biggest Bio-pharmaceutical companies, Alpha Recognition Inc is hosting its first annual Virtual R&D Day for analysts and investors this month too.
Fun fact: The first virtual event was hosted in 1968 by Douglas Engelbert, an American engineer for a computer demonstration via a virtual screen in a conference hall in San Francisco.
Curious much? Take a look for yourself!
Virtual events may have become a part of our daily lives only during the pandemic but the industry has been steadily growing for a few years now. In 2016, the US virtual events market size was $17.7 billion. And by 2027 it is projected to be more than $100 billion.
No wonder that a study by LinkedIn found that 45% of B2B events will be completely virtual in the future. And this is not a US-only phenomenon, but a global one. According to the UK Events Report, 72% of businesses in the UK will continue to organize virtual events in the long run too.
87% of event organizers are of the opinion that virtual events generate successful revenue, networking, and sponsorship opportunities, according to a survey by Markletic.
What Does All This Mean for In-person Events?
What about all those people who have been longing to get back to events in person? There is a certain human need to connect with people in real life. Interacting with exhibitors, taking product demonstrations, or a selfie with your friends - is all a part of the fete many people enjoy. And in-person events are not going anywhere.
With countries opening up slowly and economics beginning to recover, in-person events will make a comeback. They are an integral part of the events landscape and will remain so.
But audiences also need, and greatly appreciate, the flexibility of working from home and making events fit in our schedules. It is much easier to commit to an event if we know we will be able to integrate it into our work and personal lives. Organizers love the new opportunities virtual events have opened up for them too.
Hybrid Events Promise to Be The Uncontested Winners
In reality, we have been doing hybrid events for years. Anyone who watches sports on television knows this. Yet no one is wondering if sports will stop being broadcast on television because everyone is now vaccinated.
The same dynamic is true for live conferences and events. Hybrid events will thrive simply because audiences want the content, but can’t always make it to the stadium. For organizers, hybrid events offer unmatched engagement, insights, and ROI.
Marco Giberti, co-author for the new book, Reinventing Live, recently stated in a Forbes article, “Communities will interact through the combination of virtual and face-to-face experiences. As a result, it will increase their return on investments and improve efficiencies. This trend will facilitate and accelerate hybrid events and a new generation of face-to-face event experiences.”
Jason Greenman, CEO of Akommo and Akommo+, sums it up well when he says, “When the pandemic began, we all flocked to virtual because we needed to. Virtual was the only option. But as we return to normal, many events are maintaining a virtual component because they want to. In just over a year, everyone from brands to attendees has realized the massive value of enhancing your in-person event with a virtual experience.”
If you are an event organizer exploring the best-in-class event tech platform for virtual or hybrid events, schedule a demo now.