The world has seen many changes in 2020. Chief among them was the shutting of public spaces and the spike in need for going virtual and conducting virtual events.
This applied to both businesses and individuals.
Forced to stay at home, people needed to find outlets to explore and shift their way of life from being on-ground to doing everything, including attending events, online.
Businesses, in particular, had to shift the way they did business to holding and attending virtual events, otherwise, their businesses would falter and may even close shop.
Different people and businesses have had different experiences with virtual events. Some made the shift quickly and were able to adapt, while others struggled.
In this piece, we are going to explore the rise of virtual events, businesses’ top struggles and how they can cope and wrap their minds around the whole world of virtual events.
Different Types of Virtual Events
There’s a whole world where you can conduct an entire conference or even concert online.
There are many types of virtual events out there.
These events range from meetings and video conferencing to hosting an entire virtual conference, trade show, or concert. And that’s just to name a few that involve hundreds and thousands of people.
Another event type that’s likely to be used often in the coming period is a hybrid event.
A hybrid event is a combination of a virtual and an on-ground event.
Virtual Events Statistics for 2020
All across the globe, people and businesses held and attended conferences. But 2020 promised something different for everyone.
Due to the pandemic, more than 10 major tech conferences were canceled during Spring 2020, resulting in canceled costs of over $1.1 billion, reports Data Connectors.
In 2019, when the world was pandemic-free, the global virtual events market was valued at $77.98 billion, according to Grand View Research.
And with more people staying indoors, a report by WildApricot said that the number of virtual events doubled in 2020.
Meanwhile, GoToMeeting found that the top industries that used virtual events, especially webinars were software and tech with 29%, followed by financial services and education with 14% and 11%, respectively.
The main problem businesses faced when conducting virtual events was how they will replicate the face-to-face experience.
Virtual Event Challenges
The biggest problem with going virtual is that both attendees and businesses are familiar with physical events.
But few have been to a virtual event, let alone hosted one, which makes the task of making the shift to virtual a tough one.
In addition, the shift from having to conduct events online hasn’t been easy. Especially since it wasn’t a gradual shift or transition.
Businesses were more-or-less forced to go online since most public events locations were closed for months.
Not to mention, with social distancing measures, having thousands of attendees in one place wouldn’t have been plausible.
A pro that stands for virtual events is being able to have as many attendees as a business would need.
A survey by WildApricot found that “32% of respondents who chose not to run a virtual event in 2020 did so because they couldn’t provide the kind of value their members need in a virtual environment.”
According to Markletic, audience engagement and interaction are the biggest challenges businesses and attendees struggle with when it comes to attending virtual events.
Similarly, data compiled by Eventsforce showed that 43% of marketers found it difficult to replicate the on-ground event experience online.
Other problems include getting attendees to the online events, bad connections, engaging and satisfying audiences, say Bizzabo and WildApricot separately.
“27% of those who did not host a virtual event said it was because “We don’t know how to get participants to attend a virtual event,” notes WildApricot in its report.
On the other hand, 52% of organizations witnessed the same or more attendance than they would have expected in an on-ground event, the report indicates.
Costs: Virtual Events vs On-ground events
It should be no surprise that virtual events will cost less than on-ground ones.
After all, virtual events provide an online venue or multiple venues that are cost-effective compared to renting a location, which could be at a luxury hotel or conference area or even a location in a free zone.
Physical events, as their name suggests, require a physical space. The bigger the space, the more event organizer needs to pay.
Whereas virtual doesn’t need all that hassle or investment.
Around 84% of organizations polled by WildApricot, and who ran a virtual event in 2020, said they “spent less money on virtual events than in-person events.”
Adapting to Virtual
As a business that’s conducted a physical event, you probably remember your talks with your executives:
“We are going to have this booth here. No, no place XYZ’s booth at the front.”
“This will be the seating area. We’ll have the coffee and networking area over there…”
“Reception is going to be over there. Get Sarah and Mark to Gate 5 for the VIPs.”
And so on.
In other words, you had the perfect idea of what your on-ground event looked like and where everyone should be when the event begins.
It’s different when transforming your event to a virtual setting.
But the truth is, it’s not more difficult and shouldn’t be daunting.
Conducting or hosting a virtual event offers many benefits.
One of those benefits is allowing more people from different countries to attend, thereby increasing the organizer’s reach.
Another benefit is the significant cost reduction. You see, both the cost of the virtual event itself and its tickets tend to be significantly lower than their physical counterparts.
But that’s not all. While many businesses are likely to focus on virtual in the coming period, there are those that are considering hosting hybrid events.
“We think that it’s likely that [hybrid events] will become the default events model in the future because it gives event organizers a way to retain the physical experience while at the same time reaching a larger global audience,” notes Rapier Group.
This hybrid-model can be a good option for many event organizers.
Why? Because it offers the benefits of both types of events: virtual and physical.
Taking your events, conferences, meetings to a virtual setting has become a must. And as a business, you need to adapt to this.
It’s true, on-ground events may return in the future but as a business, you can’t wait that long.
The process of shifting to virtual isn’t difficult and shouldn’t be scary. In fact, it’s quite easy and there are ways to measure the impact and ROI of your virtual event.
At Eventtus, we’ve got lots of tips on how to make your virtual event successful. These include preparing an agenda, inviting speakers, and managing the entire process online.
As an event planner, we too had to adapt to the new norm. We did our research, enhanced our platform, and launched our online event service.
You can start exploring your virtual event options with Eventtus.
Request your demo today and we guarantee a great experience for your business and your customers.