By Nikhil Joshi
The Covid-19 pandemic has upended the traditional ways of functioning. It has caused significant disruptions across various industries, leading companies to adopt alternative methods to stay afloat. One such industry that has been severely impacted is the events industry. The physical events, which generated major revenue for B2B companies, have taken a back seat now in light of the social distancing norms and health protocols to be followed mandatorily. With the physical events becoming a distant possibility, the virtual events have taken over.
Virtual events provide an online platform that connects all players in an online environment entirely breaking up the constraints of physical environments. They become valuable tools especially when companies have delegations in different geographical areas, or when the event has a large number of attendees participating who are working remotely.
Virtual events have varied formats: webinars, virtual training sessions, video conferences, webcasts, online conferences, and team building activities. It’s advantages even include virtual 3D worlds that do not only connect hundreds of people simultaneously via their mobile devices, but also let them interact with voice and movements, positioning online events as the irrefutable future of the events industry.
Virtual events offer numerous benefits over physical. They are not limited by geographical restraints and can reach a broader audience. Prospective consumers can easily connect with brands from anywhere in the world. This ensures more diverse and relevant interactions.
Physical events include major expenses owing to renting venues, booking accommodations for guests, supplying food and other necessities, and travel arrangements. Hosting a virtual event ensures that these overhead expenses are done away with. Since there’s no traveling required, keynote speakers and industry leaders can be brought on board for half the cost. Hence, virtual events are truly cost-effective. In addition, virtual events can remain live year-round, thereby increasing the ROI significantly. They can be leveraged whenever required through the year to raise brand awareness and authority across large audience.
Attendees of a virtual event can interact more easily with a virtual representative, without any hesitation. Virtual booths provide navigable content for the audience to engage with and consume. Further, the option to chat with booth representatives live, polls and other such features result in a higher engagement rate at an online event.
Virtual events also help save extensively on the time that otherwise goes into hotel selection, venue selection, event staffing, and signage etc. in the case of offline events. Online events are easier and more convenient to set up. Also, for a nominal participation fee, organisers can share a high volume of downloadable content with a larger audience.
Online events present incredible networking opportunities. They facilitate communication with prospects through instant chat, social media sharing, webinars and live Q&A sessions. This nurtures an environment that leads to more conversions. The content of a virtual event can be stored for future purposes as well.
Data generated by virtual events can be easily analysed to uncover crucial insights. These insights help improve upon the content and do away with the shortcomings during the next event, thus improving the audience’s experience. Businesses can also gauge the quality and quantity of the leads generated in the process. In any event, the attendee feedback is considered invaluable. In physical events, it is hard to come by. However, when everyone is attending online, feedback can be acquired more easily as its form can be built into the platform itself.
Virtual events leave no impact on the environment. Marketing one’s events as eco-friendly is bound to attract more attendees, leaving a positive impression on the society. They can be relied upon for smooth and seamless operations amid any kind of contingencies. They are immune from unforeseen weather conditions, unrest in community, or pandemics like Covid-19 which have led to the disruption of physical events.
Hybrid events, in simple words, are a mix of virtual and live events. They offer physical and online experiences concomitantly. In a hybrid event, one can attend lectures, workshops, conferences or any corporate activity in-person as well as online. This is made possible by transferring a conventional event online via live transmission or by configuring a virtual sphere that emulates the physical event.
Offering simultaneous physical and online experiences, the main objective of hybrid events is that attendees can interact among themselves barring any physical limitations, invoking and injecting the power of the digital world into face-to-face events. In other words, hybrid events present the best of both worlds.
Summing It Up
Organising a virtual event requires the same amount of care and attention as organising a physical one. In both, businesses need to proactively promote the event, engage attendees by creating memorable experiences for them, and make it a success. Online events are value-adding, engagement-driven immersive experiences which can make an event impactful, taking it beyond a computer screen.
The author is co-founder, Digital Jalebi
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