Are virtual meetings here to stay?

The Covid_19 pandemic led to some interesting developments in the events market. Whilst many businesses suffered inevitable closure, undoing years of hard work to build a viable business and resulting in staff furloughed or made redundant along the way, there have been some businesses that have cleverly adapted to bring new solutions to the market.

Whilst face-to-face events have mostly been cancelled in 2020, the B2B arena, especially the technology sector, hasn’t fared too badly. Companies like Microsoft and Curry’s saw growth amidst the working from home and home schooling culture. A mass requirement for more devices were largely driving growth here.

The B2B arena has certainly been proactive at seeking alternative methods of running events in 2020, and there is an impressive list of virtual events coming up in 2021 (some may say it’s already overcrowded). But in reality can a virtual event engage the audience as well as physical events and is there a future for virtual events beyond the Covid pandemic?

Canapii feels that the future long term is in hybrid events (running events both virtually and physically). It stands to reason that even when physical events return, there will continue to be big benefits in running them on a virtual platform too.

But what are the benefits of virtual events?

  1. Virtual events offer a global reach, attracting many more attendees than just physical events, and potentially reducing no-shows with an alternative method of attending. Will it drive down physical attendance however?

Companies like Capanii have grasped the bull by the horns in 2020 by releasing their virtual events software to customers, enabling them an alternative to just cancelling planned events.

Leading tech brands such as HP have already run events on Canapii’s platform, giving them full end to end control and visibility of all aspects. Companies trying to continue with business as usual to meet revenue targets are now empowered by the likes of Canapii to be able to do so.

However it’s still early days and other viewpoints about virtual events isn’t all that rosy, as outlined in a survey carried out on journalists to understand their experiences.

They summarised that the negatives outshone the positives, with lack of engagement, difficulty in getting questions answered and less opportunity to create their own content as the main issues experienced.

But with the virtual events industry still being relatively new, it’s unsurprising that there are lessons to be learned and improvements to be made in the production side of events. This is where there are opportunities for companies that can really harness the potential for a virtual arena.

With the most important element for attendees being the sharing of information, a virtual arena can become a better way for guests to get straight to the information they are looking for.

And let’s face it, the fact that social platforms continue to evolve means that the work here will never be done.

Don’t forget the connectivity

One of the key aspects to ensuring that you deliver a seamless virtual event experience is the WiFi. Companies that offer mobile WiFi solutions can deliver connectivity on a short term basis, ensuring that speakers can deliver remote seminars without glitches.

It’s worth investing in this where speed test results aren’t up to standards, to ensure your speakers can be heard clearly.

So are virtual events here to stay?

I certainly think so, but they will develop and improve and as with physical events, only the best will win out. They need to be well planned, offer excellent content, and give the audience a fully immersive experience, with the ability to contribute and be heard.

If you’re looking for help with events, it’s work talking to a virtual events expert to help you get started. 2021 is the year for you to embrace digital events if you haven’t already.

Owner & Director of Camper-Cafe, an event and mobile coffee business, my background is in sales & marketing within the technology space.