The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the events industry to rethink its business model to adapt to the changes taking place. But it has also provided an opportunity for the industry to evolve and improve in ways we never imagined. We are talking about Virtual Events.
But, what are virtual events? Although to many an online event and a virtual event may seem the same thing, there are some key distinctions between the two. The most popular online event is a conference-like setting (webinar), which is projected digitally. It is a simple web-based interface that allows people to listen to a presenter via webcam/web audio and interact by asking questions, participating in live chats or answering questions in the form of polls and surveys.
Whereas a virtual event is essentially a physical event replicated online, involving people interacting in a 3D virtual environment. Virtual events are typically highly interactive, often with the aim of creating an experience as similar as possible to their physical counterparts. With these marked differences, each type of event meets a specific need or objective for both event producers and participants."
Today, virtual events and meetings represent the only way to connect with audience. However, many questions arise regarding the impact of these events; will they endure as a convenient and cheaper way to experience international events, or will they fade away as the population becomes more eager to have renewed personal interaction?
Events are a unique marketing channel and there is no reason why the personal touch that makes them so powerful cannot go hand in hand with a more data-driven, measurable approach. This year we have seen many companies invest in virtual events. Several new products have popped up to cater this market- e.g. Calvin Klein virtual fragrances pop ups and ASICS VR shoe releases- and we think we will see the trend of virtual events, virtual conferences, virtual launches, continue to grow and become a brand-new form of brand marketing.
While the future still holds many surprises, especially after these months marked by the pandemic, we have no doubts when it comes to events, we are convinced that we will constantly see new changes, at least for the next 18 months, especially in the corporate sphere, i.e. that dedicated to a professional audience. In addition, we believe that by the end of this year and the beginning of 2022 there will be a significant demand for hybrid events (online and offline).
Covid-19 has pushed companies all over the world to go beyond tradition, and in addition that it also inexorably boosted digital evolution at triple speed, both for the immediate implementation of new technologies and from a purely human point of view. There is no doubt that each one of us has had to revise digital habits and knowledge in order not to stand still and defenceless in the crowd.
If, therefore, on one hand online is becoming a very important frontier for events, on the other hand a very specific aspect will be of great importance: total emotional and immersive involvement. "It will be fundamental to offer increasingly emotional experiences, going beyond live streaming, interacting with the people involved and implementing all the technologies available on the market: from 3D to holograms and virtual”.
Implementing certain technologies to an event, however, is not an easy task. It's not the technology that has to change according to the event, but the event itself that has to be designed with the right technology.
The potential of virtual events is unprecedented. Just think of Tomorrowland Around the World event ( example here ) , which, thanks to 3D technology and gamification tools, managed to create a unique experience attracting more than 400,000 spectators. The advantages are not only in terms of brand awareness or brand reputation, but also economic ones. Virtual events allow companies to create experiences at a relatively low cost with added value and interesting opportunities.
Virtual events are here to stay and are likely to get better and better. However, we believe that virtual events will never replace or satisfy the need for traditional gatherings, conferences and in person experiences that we were used to. The reason? Simple enough: we all need human contact!