Will Virtual Events Become the New Normal?

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to many businesses and key events organisers rethinking how they present conferences and other high-profile events, resulting in a sharp increase in virtual events – but will this become the new normal?

With the UK entering a second Lockdown this month, one area that has been heavily affected by the restrictions has been company networking events and industry wide conferences.

Events such as the Facilities Show and BOSS’s Leaders of the Future Conference were postponed earlier this year, with the BOSS Federation later making the decision to move the event into an online webcast format  taking place on the 26th of November.

So, what are virtual events and why have they been touted by experts as being something that could continue after restrictions are lifted?

The Rise of Virtual Events

Usually seen as an opportunity for industry leaders and company representatives to meet face to face and share thoughts and opinion within a public forum, current regulations in the UK has lead to a rapid increase in virtual events taking place throughout the year instead.

Some expert marketeers have made the prediction that Virtual Events could be here to stay – with seven in ten holding the belief that online based events will become the normal as the years progress.

Another advantage that many consider with hosting Virtual Events over in-person conferences and events is the greater ease in organizing them.

A study undertaken in 2019 placed Events Co-ordination as the 6th most stressful responsibility a worker can have, with aspects such as organising catering, allocating guest speakers and tracking attendees being cited as some of the most pressure-inducing work to undertake.

In addition, the cost of running Virtual Events is considerably less than organising to hire out a venue or exhibition hall for a conference or networking meet, with just the expense of video software to broadcast from to consider.

In-Person Conferences and Meets Could Become More Significant

As COO of Venturebeat and VB Transform, Lauren O’Brien comments recently in an article on the topic of events taking place online, she believes that the sudden uptake in virtual events will make in-person meets and conferences even more significant and specialised.

“We believe that in-person events will remain highly desirable for executives mainly for the networking and one-to-one, in-person meetings that they facilitate.”

O’Brien also explained about another trend which has began to arise from the premise of virtual events, known as ‘Hybrid Events’, which offer a mixture of broadcasted presentations whilst also providing interactive elements like activities that those watching from a computer/laptop at home can participate in.

Commenting on what she envisions the format of ‘Hybrid Events’ will undertake, she explains:

“We envision hybrid events where there will be an element of in-person networking experiences coupled with digital content broadcast to a much wider audience.”

O’Brien expands:

“Attendees will be able to pick and choose how much of their own time, such as for travel, they want to invest in the event”

Your Say

Have you recently organised a virtual event for your company or business?

Or did you recently attend a virtual event that was previously meant to take place in a physical location?

Get in touch with us over on our Twitter account @OfficeSuppBlog – we’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions on the subject.

Sam Rose