How businesses can take advantage of virtual event platforms to deliver a rich, memorable, and highly engaging experience
Smart Technologies January 12 Resolve Tech Solutions
Organizations spend a significant portion of their annual budgets in creating and sustaining a positive brand presence in the market to grow their business by attracting investors, finding new customers, and networking with industry players. A popular method to achieve these objectives is through organizing events like seminars/conferences, trade shows, product launches, expos, etc. Every year thousands of business events take place across the world. Depending on the type of the event, and the number of days, these events host 50 to 5000 attendees per day. As a result, a lot of time and effort goes into organizing these events. However, for some companies, conducting such diverse and large-scale events may not be possible due to cost and logistical constraints.
The Rise of Virtual Events
Before the COVID-19, virtual events like webinars, webcasts, and virtual summits, etc. were used in a small way to attract targeted audiences. Most companies allocate between 10-20% of their marketing budget to virtual events. But the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns forced many companies to go digital and shift their pre-planned events into the virtual space. Virtual events are projected to account for approximately 28% of the growth in the events industry, growing from $78 billion to $774 billion by 2030, with an expected CAGR of 23.2% (Source: Grand View Research). As a result, hosting virtual business events have now become a new normal for most companies. These events may not have the same outcomes as in-person events, but they add more to the table in terms of exclusivity and brand reach.
Organizing a virtual event can be a challenging task. There is a different set of logistics at play. Companies now need to look at technology, platforms, security, streaming facilities, and many more aspects before creating a virtual event. With the availability of platforms like YouTube Livestream and Google Hangouts, hosting simple events can be done with less effort. However, most companies look for cloud, or mobile/desktop integration and CRMs/collaboration tools to give more depth to their events.
Virtual events have the power to transform traditional conferences using platforms and solutions that emulate in-person engagements to a bigger and diverse audience.
Popular Virtual Event Platforms/Solutions
Hosting virtual events can turn into a hassle for companies unfamiliar with the virtual event space. Some solutions and platforms help businesses conduct live, digital events that provide a unique experience to its audience and maximize engagement through different modes of interactions.
Traditional platforms for online conferencing like the following solutions have expanded their repertoire with added virtual event hosting capabilities.
- Zoom: With access to 100 panelists and 10,000 participants, Zoom Webinars is one of the most popular event hosting solutions available right now. 41% of event organizers use Zoom for their small virtual events. The platform provides multiple integrations to communication and collaboration tools, as well as the availability of breakout rooms for more in-person and interactive sessions.
- Cisco WebEx Events: A browser-based solution with the capability of 200 live feeds and 3000 simultaneous attendees, WebEx events is an excellent option for virtual conferences with multiple content streams. It also provides iOS/android access, Facebook, and Youtube live streaming capabilities as well as integration with CRM and team collaboration tools like Google Drive, Slack, and JIRA
Some virtual event platform startups have gained prominence due to their focus on providing a richer experience with a personalized, customized, in-person event-like feel.
- BEVY: An enterprise-grade, white-labeled, virtual community hub that can create and manage multiple events simultaneously. The platform incorporates community-building features by integrating with Zoom, Salesforce, Meetup, PartnerStack, etc. along with advanced data analytics and security features for organizations to create a unique event experience.
- Hopin – An innovative, digital event venue with multiple interactive, live, or pre-recorded sessions, that lets participants interact and move in and out of breakout rooms just like in-person conferences. It is relatively new on the market and has gained immense popularity due to its distinct features like reception, stage settings for keynote speeches, networking booths, and large expo like sessions.
- Run the World: A simple, online event platform that lets users create highly engaging and interactive experiences for participants by putting the focus on meaningful conversations. With plug and play templates, cocktail parties, and fireside chats, Run the World enables attendees to have personalized engagements and networking opportunities.
Why should businesses invest in a virtual event strategy?
A large section of the event management and planning community may believe that virtual events may not be as productive as in-person or face-to-face interactions. However, 87% of marketers consider the opportunities generated by virtual events as a success factor. In these uncertain times, people are looking for meaningful connections that may not be possible through live events.
Business organizations also have the option of creating hybrid events with a portion of their sessions allocated to remote participants. Some of the benefits of organizing virtual events are:
- Flexibility in designing the scope of the event in real-time
- Simplified logistics without the need to manage hotel bookings, event venues, flight schedules, etc.
- Bigger brand reach with access to participants across the world.
- Significant reduction in costs due to the elimination of accommodations, catering, insurance, staffing budgets, and other expenses.
- Customization through different platform features in terms of streaming, one-to-one interaction capabilities as well as modes of engagement.
- Real-time insights/Data collection for measuring event performance and ROI.
In light of the pandemic, the adoption of virtual events has dramatically increased. However, their growing popularity also comes from a high level of communication, interaction, and the potential of creating a memorable experience without compromising our physical wellbeing. Businesses will positively benefit from adding virtual events in their brand promotion strategy. The event planning landscape is evolving with the changing world requirements. Adding virtual events to their brand promotion strategy to complement in-person events will help businesses grow.