The future of events will be a hybrid of virtual and physical
During COVID-19, while many events were cancelled or postponed, those that did go ahead went virtual. Like many other sectors which had to adapt and respond in a rapidly changing environment, the digital transformation of many event companies happened almost overnight in response to the social distancing restrictions introduced during the pandemic. While this sort of progress normally takes decades, in these rapidly changing times it has happened in a few weeks.
Virtual events have many benefits, including an opportunity for organisers to extend the event beyond geographical borders and to create further time and cost efficiencies. This allows attendees who may never have been able to attend before to engage at the click of a button.
While these are positive, there are also some challenges including the ‘zoom fatigue’ that many people have experienced during the COVID-19 lockdowns, as well as the shared experience and central gathering point that in-person events provide.
While virtual events won’t entirely replace the human connection that in-person events provide, virtual solutions will continue to be a part of the new events reality. It is likely that a combination of both in-person and virtual will characterise the future of events.
What it means for event planners:
• Consider both the online and in-situ experience. Exploring how to integrate these delivery mediums can further audience reach, enhance engagement and create opportunities for longer term learning.
• There is more of an opportunity to explore local and regional destination events to support local businesses and invest back into the economy of the local area.
• Use the opportunity that virtual events provide to think creatively and sustainably about what the event can look like.