We’re living in uncertain times. The country is still slowly recovering from the Coronavirus pandemic while simultaneously having to deal with a financial squeeze that’s causing businesses from all areas of industry to tighten their belts considerably. Attitudes towards working have also shifted, with many employees reluctant to fully surrender the benefits they enjoyed while working from home.
The events industry in particular has experienced a lot of upheaval. Venues were forced to close and companies had to find alternative methods of hosting their events — with many gatherings taking place on Zoom or Microsoft Teams calls.
With the lockdowns now in the rear view mirror, everywhere has opened up and firms are starting to get back to live gatherings. But what of the uncertainty and financial strain? Is it really possible for businesses to plan and execute effective events when budgets are being cut?
As we touched upon in a previous blog, we think that one solution is to consider using virtual gatherings again. But why is this, and are virtual events here to stay? Here are our thoughts on the matter.
The Rise of Virtual Events
Virtual events became the go-to for companies in all areas of industry during the pandemic. The entire world was forced to move online, with conferences, meetings, and presentations needing to be carried out on platforms.
Although they were born out of necessity, businesses soon cottoned onto the many benefits of virtual events. They have allowed organisations to connect with colleagues across the globe from the comfort of their own homes, and dramatically reduced the costs associated with hosting live gatherings. Perhaps most importantly, they enable firms to plan ahead and achieve the stability they need during these uncertain times.
Virtual events helped our clients maximise their audience, visibility, and attendance, without the usual costs. They also benefited from offering safe and comfortable experiences to people who might not yet be comfortable with crowded places. So, are virtual events here to stay? We think the answer is a resounding yes, and here’s why:
The Benefits of Virtual Events
There are many benefits of virtual events for businesses to enjoy. These range from increased participation and reduced costs, to the ability to target a wider audience and lessening the impact on the environment. With so much to offer, it’s no surprise that many within the industry believe that virtual events are the future.
Hosting a live event is often great fun — but it doesn’t always come cheap. The cost of hiring a venue, providing refreshments, and kitting out your meeting place can soon mount up if you don’t keep a close eye on costs. This issue is exacerbated if people need to travel far to your venue, as you may end up having to pay for travel and accommodation.
Virtual events, on the other hand, are much more cost-effective. This enables you to deliver the same high-quality you’d expect from a live event at a fraction of the price — ideal for when finances are tight.
Low Carbon Footprint
Live events of all shapes and sizes will have an element of travelling involved. Even if the vast majority of attendees use public transport, it still accounts for a lot of vehicles. This is especially true if people need to travel extra-long distances or from abroad. Wastage is also an issue, as there is likely to be a lot of rubbish after the event has finished — with a hefty proportion of this being unrecyclable.
None of this is a problem with virtual events, since the impact on the environment will be minimal. There’s no travelling involved and very little waste generated, making them ideal if you’re concerned about the planet.
There are no restrictions when it comes to virtual events. People can attend from anywhere in the world, making participation straightforward. Speakers and other high-profile guests are also much more likely to get involved, since they’ll only need to sacrifice an hour or two of their time. They would even be able to pre-record messages if time is particularly tight.
There can be occasional distractions at live events. People will be mingling about and are more likely to talk amongst themselves, meaning the impact of your message could become diluted. Virtual attendees won’t have this issue, meaning their attention will be much more focused on what you have to say. The fact they are also in the comfort of their own homes could also mean they are more likely to participate.
Send a Clear Message
Live events always occur in the moment, meaning you typically only have one opportunity to make your message count. This is not the case with virtual gatherings, as proceedings can be recorded and shared, greatly expanding their lifespan.
Even if people aren’t able to attend the meeting, they can always review the recording during their own time and digest your message much more easily. Highlights of the recording can also be shared via social media to widen their impact even further.
Hybrid and Virtual Events: The Perfect Combination
While we certainly believe that virtual events are here to stay, there’s still a sense of magic when a live audience is in attendance. But why should this mean you miss out on all the tangible benefits a virtual gathering offers?
The solution to this conundrum lies in hybrid events, which mix the in-person element of live gatherings with the opportunity for people to take part remotely should they wish. Much like hybrid working is becoming the norm for many businesses, it’s highly probable that hosting hybrid events will do the same.
Using a combination of hybrid and virtual events can also work wonders for a company’s bottom line. If you usually host multiple gatherings per year, the costs involved in having them all take place live can be huge. Instead, you can reserve hybrid events for the most important of occasions (making them seem even more prestigious), while lesser gatherings can be held virtually. This means everyone gets the best of both worlds.
Are Virtual Events the Future?
As you can see, we truly believe that virtual events are here to stay. Not only are they incredibly cost-effective, but they offer a host of other tangible benefits that are impossible to ignore. Not least is the fact they offer complete security in the fact no matter what instability lies ahead, you will always be able to host virtual gatherings.
Advancements in technology also mean that virtual events can become even more engaging and captivating — further broadening their appeal. Elements of virtual reality (VR) can be incorporated, alongside gamification, to increase participation and enable your meetings to reach heights that even live gatherings might not be able to beat.
While live meetings are expected to remain popular, as they should do, a combination of hybrid and virtual events could unlock your firm’s true potential. In these uncertain financial times, this approach can help you optimise your company’s annual event budget and give you the security and cost-efficiency you need.
By mixing an in-person summer party with a virtual awards presentation, for example, you can instantly benefit from the best of both worlds. Not only should your finances thank you for it, but your employees will too — especially those who appreciate the freedom hybrid and virtual events can offer.
Connect In, the Hybrid Virtual Events Specialist
At Connect In, we’re adept at organising events of all shapes and sizes — no matter if they’re in-person, live, or hybrid. We specialise in the spectacular, and will work closely with you to deliver your ideal experience.
Our team takes care of everything for you, from sourcing the right venue and designing the event, to marketing and scheduling. We’ve helped businesses from across the UK wow their clients and employees with a host of events, such as team building days, conferences, investor relations activities, and product launches. Whatever your budget, we’re confident we can assist.
Because we believe virtual events are here to stay, we have access to the latest cutting-edge technology. We offer a creative, open-minded, and innovative approach to digital event planning — and provide full technical support to ensure everything goes ahead without a hitch. With services ranging from the use of a state-of-the-art studio through to audiovisual stage setups, we’ll help you find the ideal solution for you.
We’ve covered everything from live cookery demonstrations to debate sessions, and even hosted virtual awards ceremonies. Whatever your requirements may be, you can rely on us to help. Contact our team today to find out more.