Learn the critical lessons that event professionals have learned in 2021. Takeaways from virtual and hybrid events in the past year have been exemplary. In fact, it gives us a lot to look forward to in 2022.
Event industry wrapped
As we come to the end of 2021, it’s time to reflect on the event industry. Also, the trends that have emerged over the past year. What has the industry of event professionals learned? What have been the main challenges and the strategies to overcome them? How has the industry evolved from 2020?
In this post, we’ll dive into the key takeaways for event professionals. Also we will draw on specific examples from the field and the latest industry-wide survey undertaken by Event MB.
Virtual events are not going anywhere.
In 2020, virtual events were the only alternative for event organizers to engage their audience. In 2021, while in-person events become a more realistic option, virtual events reinforced their position. Event planners have continued to tap on the value of virtual events, transitioning to a fully digital strategy. In sum, this year has served to strengthen virtual events´ benefits that first became apparent in 2020.
What are the benefits of virtual events?
A core benefit most frequently cited by event organizers is the reach they achieve. Indeed, thanks to virtual events´ convenience and accessibility, event organizers have attracted bigger, more diverse, and more global audiences.
Other significant benefits include lower costs, better data analytics, lead generation, customization, and sustainability.
What are the challenges of virtual events?
When the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, there was a certain lack of technical knowledge and a learning curve to pivot virtual events successfully. More than a year on, most event planners, marketers, and A/V professionals have improved their knowledge and mastered the digital tools required for virtual events.
Yet, event professionals have come up against substantial challenges. Virtual audiences and event attendees now expect far more than a Zoom meeting. Event MB´s State of the Industry Report found that engagement and networking are the biggest challenges facing event organizers.
Next, we examine how professionals overcome these challenges and the prevalent strategies used in 2021.
What are the best strategies for virtual events?
Event and video professionals are increasingly going beyond Zoom and turning to specialized platforms. Indeed, the best platforms include cutting-edge features and solutions. This directly addresses the most significant pain points, enabling professionals to deliver more interactive experiences.
For instance, the virtual event Game On, hosted by InEvent, incetli, and engamio was a gamified and participatory experience including activities such as an interactive map, a jigsaw puzzle, word search, and a selfie contest. Distinctively, the event offered a networking roulette,where attendees could meet peers in speed-dating style video calls and arrange business meetings.
Hybrid events are the future
As per EventMB´s latest survey, 42 percent of event professionals have already started to host in-person events. However, given the benefits of virtual events and the persisting demand from attendees, event organizers are not ready to discard them.
Aiming to capture the best out of both worlds, organizers are taking up hybrid events, combining virtual and in-person components. According to EventMB´s research, 63 percent of event professionals see their events becoming hybrid in the future.
In sum, while the event industry discussed the progressive transition to hybrid events as a theoretical possibility in 2020, it is becoming a reality. This industry development has brought its own set of learnings for organizers, laying the foundations upon which professionals can improve hybrid events in the future.
Subsequently, we outline the key takeaways that this new hybrid era has laid bare.
Need for Robust Event Management Suite
As professionals have been managing elements of virtual and in-person events simultaneously, the need to invest in powerful event management software has become palpable.
In that context, hybrid platforms and all-in-one solutions are on the rise. Hybrid event software encompasses event registration and check-in for both attendees, budgeting, live polling and Q&A, premium video streaming, data analytics, and lead tracking.
In a similar line, event apps have been adopted by organizers and attendees alike, as the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the digitalization of the industry and the normalization of virtual tools.