The Rise of Virtual Events

Hiteshree Dudani
October 24, 2017

In 1935, America read an interesting sci-fi titled ‘Pygmalion’s Spectacles.’ It talked about a pair of glasses that could activate various senses of your body and make you feel as if you are physically present in a different world.

Fast-forward to 2017, we now have a name for those glasses. We call it virtual reality. The internet and VR have together enabled us to be present anywhere and everywhere and have a reality-like experience without actually being there.

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These technological advancements have impacted every single industry in the world. Talking about the event industry, this revolutionary technology has given birth to what we call virtual events.

Before you jump to the idea that virtual events are webinars or conference calls, let me get this straight to you — they are not!

Webinars may be a part of a virtual event, but they are definitely not it. Virtual events are something much elaborate and useful.

The Evolution of Events

Whether you talk about the royal social parties or global tradeshows, events have been around us since the emergence of various civilizations. But ‘events as a part of the corporate or business world’ is a very new concept.

This new concept has re-defined the way events are seen. While earlier it was just a royal exhibition, today events focus more on ROI, profits and other such things.

Also, such corporate events call for the interaction of people from a lot of different geographic locations. Since all the industry pioneers don’t live in one single country, a lot of people from around the globe have to travel to meet at one place.

These rather evolved needs of events have led to the evolution of events into what we today know as ‘virtual events’.

So, what exactly is a virtual event?

A virtual event fosters the interactive environment of a physical event. Attendees can assemble online from their respective geographic locations and have an experience that is strikingly similar to physical events but comes without the need of travelling.

From connecting global B2B marketers to making international sports fans virtual attendees, the concept of virtual events is gaining a lot of popularity. But this is predominantly the current scenario.

Things weren’t just so fun and simple until recently. Virtual events were pretty basic and a big trouble to work with. Today, on the other hand, they are easy to organise, customizable, highly interactive and way more beneficial.

But how does ditching a real event for a virtual one actually help? Let’s see.

What is so good about virtual events?

The biggest benefit of the virtual world, in general, is convenience. It is quick, easier, cheaper and in a nutshell, convenient. Same goes with virtual events. They are very convenient for the attendees as well as the organisers.

Event planning comes with lots and lots of problems. There are many situations when hosting live events is just not possible. Virtual events become the saviours in such situations. So, how does this happen? What are the benefits of hosting a virtual event? Let’s see.

- The first and the most important benefit of virtual events for organisers is the aspect of cost-cutting. Creating a virtual set-up is way easier and cheaper than creating a real one.

- Another staunch benefit is that attendees, as well as the organisers, don’t have to travel. They can all have a real-time interaction while sitting in the comfort of their houses. This is a cost-cutter and time-saver for the attendees and the organisers.

virtual events

- One big advantage of hosting a virtual event is also the fact that it allows you to reach out to a huge audience spectrum. If you are planning to host an event that requires a lot of people from different geographic locations, virtual events might be the better option.

- Also, virtual events allow you to gather a lot of event analytics and event data, just as good as with live events. With such information, you can very conveniently measure the ROI of your event.

Apart from the monetary aspect, virtual events, in general, require lesser efforts and time. An event organiser has to work with a really big check-list to make sure that everything is perfect. But when going virtual, the check-list is cut-down to less than a half, literally.

Though it is totally undeniable that we are yet to have the technology that will make virtual events better than live events, the former is a great option if a live event is not possible due to any reason.

The Evolution of Virtual Events

From simple live-streaming to a bi-directional interactive virtual environment, virtual events have come a very long way.

Convention View, a virtual tradeshow organised by the Visual Data Corporation in 1993 was among the first virtual events to take place. Back then, the organisers simply recorded the tradeshow booths, attached it to HTML floor maps and released it.

Whereas today, a virtual event can be anything that you can and cannot imagine. With a present-day virtual event you can have:

- A totally customizable 3-D environment that replicates real event venues. You can add and subtract as many elements as you require. You can even add various interactive locations on this virtual venue.

virtual events

* When it comes to virtual events, people have this misconception that there won’t be ample opportunities for interacting, meeting and networking with new people from the industry. But if you see the current state of virtual events, you would be surprised by the results. * Attendees are able to make interactions and are able to network just as amazingly as in the case of live events. Given the technology and tools provided to virtual event attendees, the interactions become seamless. They know who they are interacting with and they can do it just as well.

- Event analytics are also simplified with virtual events. Not only can the attendees register online, but virtual event platforms also allow you to track the attendee activities. This provides you with a lot of useful event data.

virtual events

- Apart from the event data pre-event, the virtual event platforms also allow organisers to monitor the attendee behaviour during the event. You can have detailed information about what interests various attendees and can later leverage this data for quicker ROIs.

* Unlike the yesteryear virtual events, the ones we have today aren’t unidirectional. The attendees can be just as interactive as the organisers, speakers and the exhibitors.

* Today virtual events have an unimaginable scope for audience engagement. This includes real-time polling, live chats, collaborations and much more.

virtual events

With all these advancements it still won’t be wrong to say that virtual events are just in the nascent stage. There is a lot more scope to it than what we see today. There are a lot of unimaginable dimensions to virtual events that might become the reality of tomorrow.

Going with the current scenario, virtual events have a strong potential to be the conquerors of the event industry in the upcoming years.

Virtual events are just the tip of the iceberg. Technology has revolutionized the events industry in multiple ways and the only way to go is forward.

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Hiteshree Dudani

Hiteshree Dudani is an event tech enthusiast who has successfully organised many eminent events. The list includes charity events, youth fests, seminars, workshops and a lot more. She is currently associated with the event technology company Hubilo. She works for the company's blog which has a wide range of useful content for event planners, event techies and event marketers.

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