Virtualized events are currently more "en vogue" than ever before. The current trend started with the translation of planned analogue events into digital ones. Since then, the range of fully virtualized events such as conferences or trade fairs has been steadily increasing _ also due to the developments of the Covid 19 pandemic.
The idea of establishing virtual events in a company is always associated with the question of what advantages such a format has, whether an investment in the necessary technology is worthwhile and whether the digital offerings can comprehensively replace events that take place in real life. We would like to give a brief overview of this in the following.
Differences between hybrid and virtual events
A hybrid event is a live event enhanced by a digital component. It is a mixture of a live analogue part and a digital space. An example of this would be an online discussion round in which speakers discuss with each other on site in a studio, while viewers can tune in from home and possibly interact with the speakers via a chat function.
In a broader sense, the term even applies to actions supported by virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR). Virtual events can be supported by head-mounted devices, i.e. VR or mixed reality glasses, but the implementation is currently still relatively complex for a large, simultaneously connecting audience.
Not every format works well for every brand
But virtualized events do not necessarily have to include live components. The focus is primarily on holding events entirely in digital space. However, it is not impossible to integrate real-time elements into a virtual trade fair event, for example, if required.
Not every format is equally suitable for the virtualization of a brand. Moreover, some offers can be transferred to the digital space more easily than others. Examples of events that can now be easily implemented using new technologies include meetings, trade fairs, conferences, congresses, bar camps, exhibitions, showrooms and product presentations.
These are the advantages of virtual and hybrid events
Even if some companies still resist virtualization, it is certain that virtual and hybrid events will be necessary in the future. As it is a big step for many brands to realign their marketing strategy and go digital, it can be helpful to look at the benefits and opportunities.
On the one hand, a wider reach can be achieved through digital events. The fact that participation takes place digitally and is location-independent means that visitors who could not attend a face-to-face event for time or environmental reasons can also take part. In addition, hybrid events in particular are often recorded so that they can also be viewed afterwards.
Self-determined customer experience
Despite the shift to virtual space, the active participation of visitors does not have to decrease. On the contrary, hybrid events in particular can achieve a more active participation of the participants. Companies achieve this effect above all by integrating interactive online elements such as surveys and participant chats.
Fully virtualized events such as showrooms or exhibition stands can also make the customer experience more individual and relevant. This is because visitors can manage their own experience and decide what content they want to explore, when they want to contact a member of staff or what information they want to gather in order to make a decision.
The individual configuration options lead to a more valuable participant experience and thus to a more or less freely selectable personalization - depending on the type of event. Some digital options offer the chance to personalize products and content with the right attendee management and, for example, to prepare content in different media to meet visitor preferences.
Virtualization facilitates tracking
But virtualization offers even more benefits for brands. For example, the digital space opens up a wide range of new tracking possibilities. Through good participant management, user data can be collected and analyzed in a GDPR-compliant manner.
Companies receive information about how often hotspots are clicked on or how long visitors spend in the virtual brand space. As a result, the content of permanent events such as digital trade fair stands or recurring events can be adapted.
Virtual events have a lasting effects
Of course, with all changes there is also the question of budget. Especially fully virtualized events require an investment at the beginning. Concepts have to be created and new technologies purchased. Often, the transition is only successful with the help of strong partners. But these investments contribute to a long-term improvement of the customer experience and customer loyalty.
Another important factor that seems interesting for companies is the reduced carbon footprint. Since digital spaces do not require employees and customers to travel in person, CO2 is automatically reduced.
Start with virtualization now
Virtualization is a big change for most companies. However, it is necessary in the long term if brands want to be modern and in tune with the times. Because even when live events and business events are possible again without hesitation, there will be potential customers and users who will prefer digital offers. Both groups should be given the opportunity to establish contact with the company according to their respective preferences.