Why Virtual Events Are Becoming the New Reality for the Future

We take a cursory look at the new emerging trends. What are the benefits and challenges


Although the shift to virtual hosting for events was noticeable even before the emergence of COVID 19, however in recent months, virtual events have been experiencing an unprecedented boom. From the latest  annual virtual cloud security summit to business building webinars, it seems the future of events is set solely in the digital world. According to Ruben Castano, CEO of 6Connex,  virtual events have increased by 1000 percent since the COVID 19 pandemic began.


In Nigeria, our research finds that over 95 percent of organisations and institutions that organised any virtual event in 2020 were doing so for the first time. The country's Federal Executive Council held a virtual meeting for the first time. West African Leaders under the banner of ECOWAS held their first virtual conference this year.  University of Osun State announced that they were the first tertiary institution in Nigeria to hold a virtual matriculation ceremony. Babcock university followed up with her first virtual graduation ceremony. Most professional bodies bold enough to hold their annual conferences did so virtually including Experiential Marketing Association of Nigeria (EXMAN).  The list is almost endless- product unveiling, awards, musical shows, celebrity weddings, birthdays, political conventions etc.  


However, while recent events seem to have the capacity to accelerated growth in the experiential marketing industry from a new direction, one will still need to ask: Are virtual events the new future of event planning and marketing?


What does this bring to the table?


FOR THE ORGANISERS


Easier access to high-quality speakers regardless of where they live or where your event is taking place

Now that events are taking place online, it’s easier than ever before to get top-notch speakers from around the world. Previously, they used to have to travel (sometimes across continents) just to spend 30-60 minutes  on stage. Now presentations can be made from any office on the globe- Talk about convenience.


Virtual events give greater audience reach and event Impact

One of the largest event planning decisions is choosing a suitable place, time and date that fits both the event organisers and its intended audience. In many cases, there is the issue of the location or time being inconvenient for people who wish to be apart of the event – an issue that virtual events seem to solve.  According to the Meeting Design Institute, choosing a virtual event reduces audience concerns about the suitability, location, and date by over 50 percent. Your choice of online video or meeting hosting software  can also enable greater personalization, and allows you to choose the most important content you wish to impart to your audience – all crucial when determining audience reach and impact.


Quality attendance easier and it is more cost-effective, and sustainable

Most physical events require renting an event venue, paying for drinks and food and, in some cases, subsidising speakers. Other cost  can include hiring amenities and support staff,  rental fee for conference rooms, parking amenities and event security. With virtual events, the above costs are eliminated or very minimal. Also the reduced need for travels or a lot of intra-city movements  make virtual events super sustainable and eco-friendly. Besides the above, an excited event organiser  recently said, "despite only promoting our event a week before it was set to take place, we were able to gather over 200 random attendees across 4 different continents. This is a huge step-change compared to most physical events we have organised in the past. Even with a month's promotion, getting 200 guests seated on time could be a near miracle except it is a "ready-made" audience or mainly for entertainment purposes".


FOR THE ATTENDEES


Less time consuming and significantly cheaper

Now that attendees no longer need to travel to events, or be in traffic, there is way more time to focus on the important stuff: building and scaling your business then you can join the programme exactly when it is starting.


More flexibility in terms of what content you choose to consumeI

In a physical event, it’s tough to duck out of a session once you’ve committed to it. With virtual events, you can afford to be much pickier around what content you choose to engage with. Don’t like the talk current presentation, no problem, just sign out and rejoin later during the next presentation.