Governments around the world are leading, or planning to lead, their countries out of COVID-19 restrictions and back into an active economy.
Like many industries where large gatherings are a feature, the events industry is eagerly awaiting the resumption of exhibitions, tradeshows and conferences.
While we wait, what does the industry look like in the here and now? And what does the longer-term future hold for events, attendees, speakers and event planners?
The Here and Now
Until live events are given the go-ahead, event planners are busy making the most of live streaming technology to deliver virtual events to remote attendees.
Convincing attendees to sign-up for a virtual meeting or event experience can be difficult.
Naturally, remote events cannot offer the personal connections and interactions that on-site events deliver so well. People may also be deterred by the prospect of having to grapple with unfamiliar technology and platforms.
The Motivation to Attend
Although potential attendees may be sceptical about attending a virtual event, there are compelling reasons for them to participate.
Engaging with peers, attaining CPD points, and keeping up to speed with industry developments (especially during this volatile period) are excellent incentives for attendees to see genuine value in virtual events.
Meeting attendees’ event needs will ensure a healthy attendance at your virtual event. Real time networking, live-streamed speaker sessions, live polling and Q&A will all help create an engaging and interactive experience for a remote audience.
Make access easy by choosing an integrated platform. CrowdComms has incorporated live streaming into its event app. This means attendees don’t have to spend time getting to grips with new tech. They simply access a new feature in a familiar platform.
Virtual events are keeping us connected while restrictions are in force, but what happens when restrictions ease and events start to resume? While we’ll all do a little happy dance, it’s safe to say that events won’t return to ‘normal’ for some time.
When events do resume it’s likely that planners will have to ensure social distancing, which means fewer attendees. But reduced capacity might not be event planners’ biggest challenge. Just because events are running it won’t mean attendees will necessarily show up.
People will be wary of undertaking travel and even more wary of being in close proximity to others at an event. Attendee confidence is likely to be compromised for some time.
In addition, even if people are willing to attend financial restrictions may make in impossible. Reduced budgets (particularly for travel) and revenue will mean industry events are off the table for many.
The Motivation to Attend
Although some people may be reluctant to travel and attend events, that doesn’t mean their need to learn, network and interact with industry peers will go simply away.
The trick will be to provide attendees who are willing to attend, and people who want to attend on-site but can’t, with great and accessible event content.
Hybrid events will be a great way to engage every attendee, particularly during the phase where attendance is affected by on-going COVID-19 related limitations.
Utilising a mix of live, streamed and pre-recorded content, hybrid events will cater to:
· People who attend the event in-person
· People who live-stream the event from a remote location, and
· People who want to access content-on-demand material after the event.
The hybrid approach helps make events more accessible to those who cannot travel or who are on a restricted budget. But, it also creates a fantastic longer- term opportunity for event planners to extend the reach of their events.
We envisage a future where hybrid events are the norm. Live events that are used to maximum numbers (and therefore capped ticket sales) can potentially open their virtual doors to hundreds, if not thousands, of additional attendees.
These new attendees will be an exciting proposition for sponsors who will relish the opportunity to showcase their brand to a larger audience.
Event planners will also capitalise on content-on-demand by offering pre-recorded material to people who missed out on the event or attendees who want to re-visit specific speaker sessions.
Times are tough for all of us in the events industry, but live streaming technology is providing innovative solutions to keep us connected and looking forward to exciting future opportunities.