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The Future of Events | Tapping into Virtual Events
Guest blog | Geoff Branson, AV24/7
The events industry globally has been turned on its head almost overnight with so many event cancellations and postponements. In these unprecedented times our industry will need to evolve and adapt in an attempt to survive this incredibly challenging period we all have in front of us.
Our industry is full of amazing and resilient people and it’s this that is going to ensure we can come out the other side stronger and more together than ever before.
Social distancing is one of the most important conditions we now have to adhere to in order for us to suppress this crazy pandemic. So, it’s paramount that we find ways for business, organisations and other groups to meet “virtually”, continue to learn, engage, and communicate with one another. In the face of these immeasurable changes to our industry, event organisers are starting to look for alternatives to live events; virtual events may offer a solution.
So firstly, what is a Virtual Event?
A virtual event is something that is delivered 100% online. If you have ever attended an online webinar, had a meeting via Zoom or similar platform, or used a video conferencing tool then these are all examples of virtual events.
Why Host a Virtual Event?
Virtual events can provide lots of opportunities that live events can’t. Here are a few reasons why you should consider hosting one:
● Accessibility – lets you remove the boundaries of geography, current travel restrictions and provides improved access to global speakers or trainers. You also have the ability to reach a much wider audience as your event is online, simply requiring someone to login from anywhere in the world.
● Budget – these events can assist when there are budget constraints. Whether it’s lowering operating costs by not requiring a physical venue, or not having to offer catering, as well as marketing. Many significant costs can simply be dropped from the budget.
● Convenience – they can give your guests or attendees ultimate flexibility and convenience. They can attend virtually from their living room or office making them more convenient than traditional conferences. On demand content can be pre-recorded and viewed at any time.
● Data Collection – by hosting the event online your attendees will be required to provide data to access your event. As you have the ability to reach a much wider audience this can really help drive data collection and be useful for future marketing purposes.
Hosting Online Meetings, Webinars or Training Sessions
In a business sense, teams can use virtual events to meet online, to communicate, and collaborate from anywhere in the world. There are lots of platforms that can facilitate online meetings, making them easy to organise and effective. Whether you have 2 or 1000 attendees, these online meetings, seminars, or training sessions are only a few clicks away. If your business is not experienced in this space then it makes sense to work with a company that is. A company offering virtual event management would already have access to a professional online meeting platform and possess the expertise to facilitate larger meetings, allowing businesses to concentrate on the content and delivery. Managing many online attendees has its difficulties and knowing when to call in the experts who can also facilitate the meeting is critical.
Features of your Virtual Meeting may include:
● Experienced Meeting Facilitator
● 2-Way Audio and Video
● Multiple Breakout Sessions
● Screen Sharing
● Presentation Streaming, Record & Playback
● Electronic Hand raising
● Private Chat
● Custom Branding & Sponsorship opportunities
Managed Virtual Events (Virtual Conferences)
If you have cancelled, or postponed a conference, or plan to host one in the future then a fully managed virtual conference may become a realistic option. With these types of virtual events you are literally taking a physical conference online and pushing your content into the office and homes of your employees or attendees. An event studio space would be required in order for the event content to be streamed live or pre-recorded, so having an idea of the kind of content you plan to deliver is important. For example, how many presenters will you require? Will you live stream or pre-record? Do you want to include Q&A’s, have breakout sessions, or boost engagement with some entertainment? All of these are viable options when it comes to virtual conferencing. Deciding whether or not you would set up a mobile studio in your workplace or if you require a purpose-built studio that is ready to go is another consideration. These types of events can be quite basic or become very technical, all depending on your individual requirements.
As more and more event organisers turn to virtual events as an alternative way to deliver their content the question that comes to mind is can virtual events fill the live event gap?
I personally feel that they are going to be a great alternative in the uncertain times ahead of us however I do not expect it to be easy for people to sit at their home desks and consume a day’s worth of content without the human interaction that they are used to. It will become critically important that the content delivered is creative and engaging to maintain guests’ attention. I think that organisers should consider condensing the agenda and look to provide more focused content. They could also pre-record certain sessions that attendees can return to at their leisure, making it more flexible.
Virtual events will struggle to replace the one on one personal connections that you can make at a networking event or on the tradeshow floor but embracing them and tailoring your content and the delivery of this is surely worth exploring in the weeks and months ahead of us.
Are you looking to learn more about facilitated online meetings or virtual events and how you can implement them into your business?
Learn more about online meetings, webinars and training sessions and have your questions answered by registering for this free webinar. You will hear from Libbie Ray, AV 24/7’s General Manager around how to keep your teams engaged via Virtual Events. There will be a Q&A to help you with any questions you might have about this topic.
Click here to register.
Time: Monday 6 April from 3pm – 4pm.
Zoom link to be provided upon registration. Registrations are limited.
Guest post by Geoff Branson | National Business Development Manager, AV 24/7
Geoff is an experienced sales professional and passionate about delivering flawless AV solutions for live events, exhibitions, conferences, brand activations and virtual events.