Over the last 12 months events have made a remarkable shift to digital offerings in the absence of their core products. Now as we see events start to return over the coming months the learnings from this move into digital will be integrated into physical events to create truly hybrid events, the ability to utilise effective and complimentary digital strategies will separate those that come back thriving from those that come back struggling.
To be clear, virtual events and digital strategies for events are not something which has sprung up in the last 12 months. What we have seen is a rapid improvement in their skill with virtual events and digital strategies far quicker than they otherwise would have. Anyone who has attended virtual events consistently this past year will have noticed the stark increase in the quality. From little more than a webinar to fully fleshed out virtual, and in many cases 365, offerings. Hosted on a platform like hopin for the event itself and accompanied by platforms like ShowShoppa to drive revenue and engagements year round.
Physical events provide huge value in both the B2B and the B2C space, offering powerful networking opportunities, unique experiences and a convenient way to discover new products and services, a lot of which simply cannot be replicated online or cannot be replicated very well. While physical events offer a lot of value by virtue of the format they have a number of limitations; they require large upfront investment from the organiser, are tremendously difficult to organise logistically and are only present for a short space of time. All factors which do not apply to digital platforms and why they make such a good complement if used correctly.
The comparatively lower cost and logistical ease of virtual platforms is a huge advantage, this brings the opportunity for
- Engagement with visitors and exhibitors more frequently
- People to attend who could not attend a physical event
- A persistent presence year round, becoming a centerpoint for your industry
While we have seen some fantastic virtual events with engaging speakers and excellent tools for networking such as breakout rooms and interactive classes, there has been little in the way of engagement outside the virtual event, in much the same way there has historically been little engagement with exhibitors and visitors outside the time of the physical event.
What the future looks like
We have arrived at the future everyone predicted 12 months ago, with virtual events a success and hybrid events just around the corner. The question of success over the next 12 months, as hybrid events take hold, will likely include a virtual event run alongside an annual physical event with several organisers opting for a purely virtual offering six months post for an additional point of engagement. However, those who make the most of the digital capabilities now afforded to us will not be satisfied with just two major points of contact throughout the year.
They will be looking at digital tools and strategies which enable them to have a level of engagement with their audience throughout the year, becoming a centre point for their industry year round with the physical event being the crescendo. We have already seen this happening with organisers making virtual content available after an event, creating marketplaces for visitors to buy and interact with exhibitors year round on platforms like ShowShoppa and hosting permanent networking platforms.
Get in touch to find out how ShowShoppa can help you thrive in 2021 and beyond.