The events industry has taken a huge hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Events are being cancelled or postponed around the world to prevent further spread of the virus. This has inevitably caused massive economic loss for many industries. With the uncertainty of the situation and social distancing becoming the norm, technology may provide an immediate solution.
Virtual Events are not at all an unfamiliar or unheard-of concept. In recent years, major conferences all over the world have been exploring the virtual option for participants who could not be physically present at their events through live streaming, especially keynote speeches. Organisers provide virtual participants with a link via email or using online event apps.
Apart from its obvious benefit of social distancing at this period, there are several other benefits to moving your events to the virtual world, some of which we have compiled in this blog Virtual Events: Cancelling Your Event? 5 Key Benefits of Moving Your Event Online.
1. Global Access
With travel bans and lockdowns happening all across the world right now, turning to Virtual solutions could be the alternative to still reach out to the global audience without having to risk any physical interaction. Increasingly, companies are also moving their events virtually. One of the biggest companies in the world, Microsoft, has recently decided to move its Build Developer Conference, into the digital space for the safety of the attendees.
This action eliminated the need for people to fly in but still be able to attend the event within the comfort of their own homes or offices. Build is said to be Microsoft’s biggest event of the year.
Image credit Gerd Altmann
Locally, popular events like Earth Hour have moved their unplugged concert to livestream via social media platforms. Last year, leading tech publisher in the region, TechInAsia held their annual summit in Jakarta. This year however, they have also planned to switch their annual 4-days Product Development Summit into a Live Conference.
2. Cost Effective
It costs a lot less to organise a Virtual Event. According to studies, a virtual event costs 75% less than a physical event catered to the same number of attendees. A typical event, say a conference for 500 attendees would require:
- A big enough space
- F&B arrangements
- Stage, sound and lighting
- Print media (Entry passes, lanyards, programme booklets, etc.)
- Additional manpower (ushering, registration, cleaning)
Image credit Dirk Wouters
With Virtual Events, you can eliminate the need for these services thus cutting the cost to a quarter!
Sustainability is definitely the added bonus for conducting virtual events. Firstly, with reduced need for air travel, there will be less greenhouse gas emissions released from burning jet fuel. Secondly, by having invites and other related information online, event organisers can reduce the use of papers.
Image credit congerdesign
Last but not least, the food. PCMA reported that the events industry in the USA generated food waste that is worth US$21 billion. As listed above, virtual events eliminate the need to prepare any refreshments for the event attendees, hence helping to reduce the amount of food waste generated from events.
4. Measurable Results
In a typical live event, valuable statistics may not be easily accessible. For example, in a typical conference it will not be an easy feat to track attendees who are roaming from one session to another, adding more logistical steps to the organiser. The inertia is however, removed through virtual events.
For example, during a live-streaming conference, event organisers can make use of the streaming software to automatically track the number of audience within a session. The software can even go a step further noting down the log-in details of the attendees. By doing so, event organisers can easily track the number of viewers across all speech sessions/ workshops to gauge the more popular topics to focus for post-event follow-ups.
Image credit Onlive.io
Moreover, by using event management software like Onlive.io, event organisers can also streamline across all processes from RSVP, communication follow up and even create interactive segments during live-stream sessions allowing real-time interaction between speakers and audience by creating polls and Q&As. For the attendees, virtual events could also bring more value to them as they will be able to download, rewatch and rewatch the session as much as they would like to, with transcript and subtitles.
5. Real-time Action & Feedback
This benefit comes hand-in-hand with the software’s ability to include interactive elements during a live-stream event. In a typical on-ground event, attendees indicate their interests and feedback via survey forms, which event organisers will use to follow up post-event.
In a virtual event, however, attendees can simply write their comments or feedback when the event is happening for the organisers to respond to in real time. Moreover, organisers can easily include links for attendees to click on for more information. Interests can be tracked real-time with website analytics during the event to immediately track attendees’ activities in the site. These interactions can sometimes also be translated to sales.
Image credit Gerd Altmann
For example, in 2016, Burberry broke through the typical way of how couture brands introduce their products by introducing the ‘See Now, Buy Now’ campaign. Far different from how High Fashion brands usually limit their products for sale a few months after the ‘show’, this campaign allows attendees/ viewers of the live-streamed fashion show on Burberry’s social media channels to purchase products as models walk on the runway.
As you read on the benefits of virtual events, you may continue to wonder what should a good virtual event have? As a starter, we think it comes to two very important points, quality and engaging contents.
Offering the stream in high definition will be an added advantage. This is because the participant has the option of watching it on the big screen, at home or in the office, with colleagues or peers. Having the content live and on-demand is another added advantage when you have participants from different time zones.
Understand & Engage Your Audience
According to studies, 92% of virtual event attendees expect to have a LIVE Q&A session at some point during the event and only 23% of them stay for the full duration if there isn’t one.
This is a reason why successful virtual events organisers have steered away from the traditional webinar-style agenda and have switched to more audience-focused ones.
Image credit to Lauren Hagerty
It basically means, give your audience exactly what they want. To achieve this, you should plan ahead and open registration for your event at least 6-8 weeks in advance. While attendees are registering, give them an option to type in a question in the registration form. Share the questions with the speaker and together, shortlist the best questions. Prepare the presentation based on these pre-selected questions.
Despite all the pros of virtual events, we understand that having physical face-to-face interaction with your attendees is important to build personal rapport amongst organisers, speakers and attendees. As the world continues on this fight against COVID-19, virtual events will continue to become the new norm. If you’re still wondering whether to cancel your event, our best recommendation is to always put cancellation as the last option. Consider postponing the physical event wherever possible or shift your event online.
We can help!
Quality content is important in virtual events!
If you are providing an essential service and thinking about holding a virtual event, come talk to us! Venuerific has the professional crew and equipment to conduct your live-stream events in high production quality! https://www.venuerific.com/sg/pages/contact