The event management industry can be righteously parted into two: pre-pandemic and post-pandemic. The unavoidable circumstances rushed an immediate need for an alternative solution to uphold the stream of education, employment, businesses, etc. Webinars and virtual events served as the superheroes that delivered a virtual platform to transport all the in-person activities via mobile and laptops. People quickly got accustomed to the advancements of virtual workflow and environments. And there, the era of remote networking has begun.
COVID 19 situation commercialized online business, education, events into an everyday routine. Otherwise, it would have been a transformative process worth a decade. Technologies that made everything easier, accessible, and advanced. According to the Global virtual events market, by 2028, the annual growth of virtual and hybrid events is estimated to be 23.7%, worth USD 504.76 billion. Thus, accounting for the advantages of virtual events, they are more likely to be endured by business people, marketers, and users even when the world gets covid-free.
How COVID-19 affected the event industry
The mandatory lockdowns caused a great deal of change globally and, in particular, shook the event industry. Physical events were not practically possible and plunged into immediate cancellation. Businesses met with a materialistic loss, employment risks, and low turnover that ultimately jeopardized financial stability.
Impact on event industry business
According to the EEMA- Events and Entertainment Management Association, 52.91% of event companies faced up to 90% business cancellations during mid-2020. There were 20-80% layoffs of the employees and some businesses even hurled up to bankruptcy. Fundraising and sponsorship campaigns suffered and fell on to the shareholders.
Live shows and businesses affiliated with events
Live events are a board category comprising trade shows, fairs, exhibitions, sporting events, concerts, festivals, etc. Many exclusive events in 2020, from the Olympics, major sports tournaments, the Broadway musicals to entire film production, came to a halt. In turn, this affected design and technology industries, rental shops, production companies, etc.
Tour and concerts of artists also resulted in a loss, and over hundreds of artists either postponed their live shows or even canceled. The concert trade publication Pollstar reports USD 30 billion loss in revenue for the live events in 2020. This decline includes all economic tie-ups with the event industry – ticketing, sponsors, hotels, food and beverages, transportation, etc.
The exponential rise of virtual events
While the world is fighting the virus, the event industry is also combating a battle within itself. Despite the heavy fall, the events industry innovated a quick and efficient way to rise- virtual events. The increasing demand pressured virtual events to prosper instantly, and events had to be more spontaneous, innovative, and dynamic. The event industry strives to implement features like facial recognition, augmented and virtual reality, and artificial intelligence as simplified as possible.
According to the CEO of 6Connex, Ruben Castano, their virtual events business grew by 1000% with unexpected demand from all fields like- education, business, sport, etc. Many other platforms renewed themselves with high-end features and functionalities. Some statistics that evidence the incredible growth of virtual events are-
- Zoom Video Communication Inc’ customer rate reported going from 61.2%(81,900 attendees) to 353.7%(265,400 attendees) in the first quarter of 2020.
- According to Markletic, 80% of virtual events contribute to the education sector, next to networking.
- 60% of companies seem to increase their number of webinars ( TOPO 2020)
- G2 marked a 2,777% increase in virtual event platform reviews. They hiked up from 15 to 119 platforms in a span of ten months.
- According to ICCA, In 2020, out of 3,484 events held, 2,643 events were online or hybrid events.
- A report by Research and markets says- that virtual events like tradeshows and exhibitions encountered the largest revenue share in 2020 by 30%.
- By 2020 December, 12,000 events held weekly with half a million attendees (marketingtechnews.net)
- Data from LinkedIn filed a 400% year-on-year increase on Live streams and 500% in live broadcasters.
Why virtual events became so popular
In one word- ‘Benefits.’ They are the only illuminating factor that drags the entrepreneurs into the web of virtual events. In a survey conducted by Markletic, 87% of marketers aim for success through the various opportunities laid out by the virtual environments, and 67% of businesses use these benefits complementary to in-person events.
The inevitable advantages of virtual events
The present generations
It suits everybody. Technological advances familiarized during the information age starting from the mid 20th century, resulting in disturbed expertise among all generations. Now, we live at a time where kindergarteners begin their educational journey virtually. Almost all age groups in the present era are effortlessly tech-savvy and comfortable exploiting technology to the fullest. It has been an auspicious time for virtual events to access all generations X, Y, and Z ranging from 6 to 60 years old.
Virtual events dwell more engagement
Virtual event platforms thrive on building an environment to engage attendees with newer innovations. Studies show that the involvement of the attendees is either equal or higher when compared to in-person events. Some groundbreaking features of the present-day events are:
- 1:1 breakout sessions to engage with the attendees individually
- Augmented reality (virtual booths, expo, immersive ambiance, etc.)
- Gamification features that make boost engagement, marketing, and performance development fun with scoreboard and incentives.
- Polls, private chats, surveys, and Q/A sessions promote involvement and provide crucial insights directly from the audience.
- Group sessions to form a unity, team spirit, and sometimes healthy competitions
- Platform integrations that make registration, payments, inter-platform communication exchange easy. For example, most platforms integrate with social media forums, ticketing websites, payment gateways for smooth UI.
AccuData published an article stating that 64% of marketing executives firmly believe in data-driven strategies. Many surveys are being conducted worldwide on the nature, performance, challenges, and advantages of the virtual events sector by sector. These act as a one-stop hub for hosting successful virtual events. It induces marketing by bringing forth brand association, pointing out the platforms that acquire the most qualified leads, and digitally scrutinizing the particular factors driving your company towards the desired return on investment.
Data analytics is a crucial factor for which the people go for virtual setup even after the pandemic. It gives in-depth analysis and highlights the individual contribution in every aspect of an event- the success rate of each KPIs, features, and tactics, understanding the audience, marketing, reach, performance, etc.
Data analytics also draws a bigger picture on understanding audience behavior and patterns by making use of tools like:
- Engagement dashboard – Analyze audience and give individual performance reports for each feature.
- Inputs for marketing strategy – The role played by each KPI and how effectively they achieve their objectives.
- Marketing analysis- Analytics platforms address the demands of users, maintain a digital record of data, track your performance and goals. It also focuses on social media engagement and ways to improve traffic.
- Lead generation- Tracking the lead capturing and retrieval is easier and precise digitally. For example, email marketing sends automated notifications based on subscription. Since most millennials use electronic mail for any organizational interactions, it also keeps track of how the audience responds to the emails, how long they stay on subscription, and how many click-throughs are processed successfully.
As these aspects are automatically detected, it leaves much more room for employees to manually bond with attendees, establishing effective grapevine communication. In turn, it increases productivity.
Better opportunities, better reach
Virtual events break through the physical barrier with one click. Any information from anywhere travels across the globe online. It builds meaningful connections on an international level. For example, group meetings in multinational companies can organize a single session in an office and webcast it to several locations. Although it is not a relatively new system, pandemics boosted the usability and frequency of virtual conferences, events, etc.
In the educational field, virtual events swiped away many issues. The demographics, physical distance, and language barrier no longer serve as a hurdle. It encourages foreign exchange students and tutors to club together with the help of captions. Captioning services also repurpose your video content into transcripts and other forms instantly.
Accessibility and inclusivity
Virtual events became holistically global with accessible and inclusive events. It covers a wide range of diversity – all races, sex, age, sexual identities, body size, socio-economical status, learning behavior, and difficulties. Virtual platforms provide alternate options for any kind of impairment, linguistic and locale differences, even for learners with cognitive impairments like dyslexia, autism, etc.
Web accessibility is inclusive of designing and drafting accessible content, emails with large fonts, contrast colors. Hiring a sign language interpreter, providing captions and recorded videos of the session to mutualize accessibility for all.
Sponsorship campaigns are held in the form of virtual events. Social media profile endorsing, exclusive virtual trade shows, and campaigns attract sponsors. Virtual focal groups, branding waiting rooms, sponsored games, gifts, and entertainment breaks, serve as a seamless method of including sponsors into the events.
Increased ROI is undoubtedly one of the primary reasons to opt for virtual events. The networking and sponsorship opportunities are high in virtual events through cost-effective marketing, and it automatically brings massive brand awareness and association. Virtual events also cut off the money spent on venue, food, beverages, and transportation. With digital data analysis and follow-up sessions, virtual events are cheaper, quick, and highly automated. Hence, it results in yielding more profit on the whole.
The future of the virtual event industry
As per a report by the Travel Daily News, 80% of corporate sponsors are interested in investing in virtual events, whereas 72% prefer hybrid solutions combining in-person and digital events. Hybrid events are the future of the event industry. They successfully combine both digital and in-person benefits of the program. It allows you to conduct an event with a large-scale audience on a minimum budget. Hybrid events save on travel costs, catering, accommodation costs, etc.
However, the digital advantages of an event will not vanish, and more likely, would act as a silhouette to future events. And in that case, captions have become an integral part of events to hit audiences on an international level. Check out CaptioningStar and add captioning services to your to-do list before hosting your event.