The Future Of Virtual Events (infographic)

Events are a big part of business life. Conventions, conferences, and more are places where business people meet each other, make new connections, and let the world know what they are good at. They are places where people brush up on skills and network. And, unfortunately, they have all been canceled in the wake of COVID-19. This has prompted a shift toward virtual events, but will the phenomenon stick around?

Large Events May Not Have The Payoff

Going to large events takes a lot of time and resources, and people can get really run down and even sick from all the travel and activity. Large events often lack a specific enough focus to draw the right crowd, and while a tech conference may seem cool it's likely to draw one type of crowd for one topic and another type of crowd for another topic.

Companies also spend a lot of time and money designing, setting up, and staffing booths at trade shows to maybe talk to a dozen interested people over the course of a few days.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Curtailed Events Indefinitely

While some parts of the world are starting to reopen, many companies have limited travel for their employees out of fear of being responsible for them contracting the virus. Until there is a vaccine for COVID-19, it is highly unlikely that we will see large in-person events for the foreseeable future.

Already many major events have been cancelled, from Facebook's F8 conference to Mobile World Congress to SXSW. This is a major economic loss both to event organizers and to their surrounding communities. Each year events generate $1 trillion in spending including airfare, transportation, hotel stays, and more. The ripple effects of these cancellations will be felt worldwide for quite some time.

A Shift To Virtual Events

Virtual conferences aren't anything new, and in fact they have been happening since the advent of broadband internet if not before. The same goes for online professional learning, meetings, and more. But as necessity is the mother of invention, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing a shift toward more specialized and local conferences that are being done virtually.

By next year, online video including conferencing will account for 80% of web traffic. While it may seem that video conferences are a chance for people to zone out, in fact the opposite is true: 86% of virtual meeting participants report the same or higher participation levels as in-person conferences.

Virtual events can actually be better targeted for attendees. People can fill out questionnaires and be matched to talks and seminars that would most interest them.

In addition, virtual conferences cost significantly less to put on, which means that organizers can use those savings to spend more on keynote speakers and other higher quality speakers.

Are Local And Virtual Events The Future?

Even once the pandemic is over, it is likely that many of the changes that have been necessary will stick around. People have shifted to remote work and it is unlikely they are going to want to get back into an office after that. The same goes for virtual events - once people realize they don't have to travel for big conferences anymore they may be hesitant to return to the old way of doing things.

Even if people decide they do want face-to-face interactions to return after the pandemic, smaller, local conferences are likely to be at least the first wave of live events to take place. It's going to take a long time for people to feel safe traveling and attending large gatherings again, and event organizers need to take note.

Learn more about the future of virtual events below.

Are Virtual Events Here To Stay? - Infographic

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