Virtual events are now a central focus of almost every industry. In most cases, event leaders and marketers have taken the crash course in adoption and many have built their 2021 event strategy solely in the virtual realm. Platforms are changing and improving quickly. Significant investments in better and more sophisticated resources like virtual production, speaker support, and graphics treatments are helping to elevate the visual experience.
Like it or not, the age of the virtual event strategy is truly upon us. Let’s be clear, online events will never entirely replace the experience of a live one. However, if well-executed, they can certainly serve to reinforce a live event and offer opportunities for audience swell, useable data insights, and a boost in revenue streams. Which makes virtual events a very exciting, long-term prospect for our industry.
Then and Now
Original technology solutions in the virtual event class weren’t contenders with the delivery of live content. As a result, many old and new platform providers joined the category with a fresh perspective. In the past, these customizable and flexible digital platforms were only built for marquis clients doing elite, global events on a virtual platform.
Former doubters have now become champions, with 85.3% of subjects in a February 2021 branding survey admitting online experiences are here to stay, even after the pandemic subsides. They likely realize that that the digital audience is bigger than the face-to-face, promoting ways for brands and attendees to interact in specific scenarios.
So here is the opportunity to consider doing virtual events for the remainder of 2021 and beyond:
- Easy to launch with the right technology and production partners
- Improved technology platforms where attendees can access event content without limitations
- Attendees moving in and out of sessions and networking rooms from anywhere in the world
- Access to global thought leaders for speaking opportunities
- Virtual beats face-to-face in data collection
Are we making it all sound too easy?
Virtual Events Can Still be Challenging
The opportunity is big for companies executing a virtual event strategy. Albeit these events are still posing a challenge to some. Let’s take a look at why:
- Event organizers and marketers need help learning new digital skills
- The direct and indirect profit generation of virtual events is still pending
- Brands are not yet ready to make a serious investment and assign budgets
- Video, sound, lighting and streaming quality are in the hands of the speaker
- Measurement tools and KPI’s for attendee behavior and engagement are all over the place
- Engagement drop off is high if attendees don’t see value in it for them, before, during and after the event
Despite the obstacles, we see clear signals for virtual events to allow brands, sponsors, attendees, and speakers to take advantage. There is a massive market of leads for brands to engage with. The ability to identify, qualify and nurture leads and relationships within future events, whether face-to-face or hybrid, will be better if everyone involved can start cultivating and curating leads as part of their virtual event activities.
Giving Thought to Hybrid Events
Challenges in virtual event strategies does give way to the natural desire for face-to-face interactions. We all want them back as an option so it’s easy to you understand why hybrid events are creeping into the conversation. It’s all an evolution of sorts.
Remember Apple’s event announcing the iPhone 11 in September of 2019? This is a great example of content being presented in a hybrid format. The power of the onscreen images, music, and creativity coupled with the interaction of both online and in persona audiences was really mesmerizing.
The hybrid idea is powerful. Many CMO’s and event marketers believe that hybrid events are the future. Organizers wanting to reach their communities with the power of both digital and on-site interactions should pay attention to trends in hybrid models. New technologies, coupled with a customer engagement focus will drive better results and ROI for the hybrid model.
A Timeline for How Production Companies Can Help
Are you planning virtual events that aim for an unforgettable digital delivery? Are you tight on what you will do for Q2 and Q3 but still wondering how you pivot into hybrid and have a back up plan if that doesn’t work?
Of course it can be daunting. However, partnering with experts that are experienced and skilled in all types of event technology and production concepts, maneuvering between virtual and hybrid events doesn’t have to be so anxiety producing. You can deliver your own “Apple-like” event that audiences will use as their benchmark for all other experiences they attend the remainder of the year.
Once you’ve decided on the theme of your event and have a budget in mind, get in touch with us. Production teams in charge of your event like to begin pre-production 3 months out in a perfect virtual world. If you’re cutting it close and it’s 8-weeks out, get them involved right away. Coordinating technical elements, framing out platform integration and developing production support needs is complex so the experts need adequate time to make your vision come to life, seamlessly, the first time.
Share with us your plans … the experts at OVATION can walk you through a host of options that will create amazing success through events. No need for that crash course if you give us a call.
Last But Not Least
There is no doubt face-to-face events will once again dominate. But, for now, we can argue that conferences are better in a virtual setting while at the same time hashing over the idea that trust is only built in a personal setting and the forward motion of business dealings hinges on that very concept.
It’s all true.
The balance of success lies in what your audience wants. So you must find an empathetic way to deliver on that. All the while navigating the pros and cons of each idea. But make no mistake, when face-to-face returns, the opportunity to launch virtual will still continue.
At the end of any event, customers want a better experience. They will continue to put pressure on all event owners to provide a simpler, more efficient customer journey. Technology can be a trustworthy partner at every step of the way. Integration and innovation with high production value rounds out the recipe for creatively delivering content that is consumed, regardless of the event channel delivery.
Need some guidance on what it takes to pull off virtual event in 2021? Schedule a quick intro call and let’s discuss.