It is hard to overstate the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly in industries that relied upon big, in-person events to market to customers.
For years, industry events have been the standard way for businesses to see and interact with each other. The majority of business leaders report that real world events are critical to their success. It is estimated that the events industry brought $1 trillion to the global economy in 2017, offering an opportunity for executives to discover many potential solutions in a short time, as well as the chance to network and meet potential business partners in person.
While many event organisers have cancelled or postponed events in 2020, others have re-imagined their events in a digital or virtual format, incorporating webinars, video conferencing, live streamed keynotes and even digital delegate packs.
Companies such as Google and Adobe have moved entire conferences online, and it is likely that others will follow in their footsteps. Some observers believe that we may never see a return to the number and scale of physical events in the future.
The pandemic forced entire companies to switch to remote working, with millions of employees now working from home. The result has been greater willingness to adopt video conferencing and virtual meetings. A daily Zoom call is now a routine experience for many executives who would previously have shied away from appearing ‘on camera’.
This has worked to the advantage of event organisers who report that audiences are more willing to engage with virtual events, particularly smaller events that offer the chance to network with peers and learn skills that will help their job performance or personal development.
For such events to succeed, marketers must take an innovative approach to creating high-quality, engaging content. There is a huge glut of virtual content available to businesses in 2020, and it is vital for virtual event organisers to stand out with high-quality speakers, slick presentations, and effective use of technology to keep the audience engaged.
Most observers believe that real world events will come back, but potentially in a smaller format, with many more ‘hybrid’ events that combine physical and virtual elements. In the post-pandemic market, certainly, only the highest quality, most engaging events will survive.