What did 2020 teach us? Unquestionably, the meaning of the word “resilience”, i.e. the ability to adapt to change, however extreme and rapid, while still finding ways to evolve and thrive. This trait has proven to be of fundamental importance on all levels, from individuals to companies, from the workplace to society at large. Event organisers have been hit particularly hard by a crisis that has made bringing people together more or less impossible. The professionals in this industry, however, did not give up and began to explore, with the help of increasingly sophisticated technologies, the countless possibilities offered by virtual events, discovering that they could not only use them to keep their business going during the acute phase of the crisis but also implement them in their future plans. After a year’s worth of innovations, experiments, successes, and challenges, we too can say with absolute certainty that virtual events are here to stay. Indeed, we are convinced that companies should keep investing in virtual events in 2021. For at least three reasons.
1. Because audiences have fallen in love with the “live” experience
Over the course of a year, we have invented a new tradition: we have grown to love the sharing of live experiences from the comfort of our own homes. The dream of introverts, despite some bizarre campaigns against remote working, has become a reality. Just look at the data from platforms such as YouTube: in the last year, many popular content creators have started to spend much more time interacting live with their fans, rather than uploading videos. Why is this important? Because we are talking about creators who did not have to ‘give up’ traditional events, as their contact with their communities was always digitally mediated. The new global scenario has simply created a need for direct interaction, which is much richer and more satisfying. This is why platforms such as Twitch (recently used by US Democratic Senator Alexandria Ocasio Cortez to interact with her fans while playing a popular video game) have grown exponentially. In short, the possibility of engaging with others in real-time, in the safety and comfort of one’s own environment, is more appealing than ever, and no one seems to have any intention of giving it up.
2. Because it is important to address global audiences in a globalised world
Investing in virtual events is relatively easy. Planning the budget exactly takes far less time and involves fewer variables than with traditional events. This means it’s also much easier for companies that choose to do this to set aside an exact amount without having to worry about contingencies. If a panelist cancels at the last minute, for instance, replacing them will be easier and cheaper, as there are no pre-booked plane tickets or non-refundable hotel reservations. The same applies to insurance costs or sudden cancellation fees for venues, technical services, catering services, and so on. As a result, the cost of organising a local or international event is almost the same. Moreover, technically, any online event can be defined as global. This allows the event organiser and the attendees to maximise the value of their experience by connecting with potential partners around the world.
3. Investing in virtual events will mean teach you a lot about your audience
You could almost say that investing in virtual events is synonymous with funding market research on your target audience. What makes this type of event particularly useful for companies and organisers is the ability to monitor the interactions between participants in detail (e.g. who visits booths at a virtual trade show, which materials are downloaded most often, which interactive functions are most appreciated, which users are most active on the platform). At the end of the event, with the right technologies, all this data can be organised, cross-referenced with the demographics of the target audience, and used to build very precise profiles. This information makes it possible to carry out customised follow-ups based on the needs of each user, to generate leads, and to direct future communication with an unprecedented level of precision.