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Are All Events, Virtual Events in a Post-COVID-19 World?

< 02 July 2020 >

Virtual Events

One of the industry’s early reactions to the pandemic was the cancellation of scheduled events.

The much-awaited mobile world congress was the among the first to be cancelled, way back in February of 2020. Since then, companies have revisited their calendar for this year, in line with curbs on international travel and social distancing norms.

Is there an alternative to the series of cancellations we saw in the last quarter?

Here is where virtual events step in.

Cloud-based tools allow companies to hold multi-participant events online, ensuring that there are engagement and networking opportunities even as we battle the pandemic. There are several ways to hold virtual events; you could choose:

  • A virtual events platform – A dedicated virtual events platform supports thousands of attendees, multiple content tracks, and even interactive sessions, just like a physical event.
  • A live streaming platform – Live streaming supports a large audience, but you could difficulties in creating diverging tracks and breakout sessions. However, this is easier to set up.
  • A video conferencing platform – Video conferencing is ideal for small gatherings. Its the lowest on the scale of investment and effort, making it a popular option for in-house events.

Several companies have switched to virtual events in the wake of COVID-19. Adobe Summit, Apple WWDC, Cisco Live, Forrester CX, Google Cloud Next, Salesforce Dreamforce – the list is endless. However, some have decided to stick to cancellation or rescheduling rather than go online – most of these rely on in-person interactions. Take, for example, Comic-Con 2020. You simply cannot imagine the event without being physically present. The same goes for any hands-on activity-oriented gathering, such as Facebook F8 (a developer conference).

In a post-COVID-19 world, events like ComicCon and Facebook F8 might stick to an offline format, but we expect several others to go down the virtual route. This has several advantages.

First, it democratizes access by opening up an event to audiences around the world. Second, it could prove to be cost-efficient as the physical overheads are low. Third, it could bring down your carbon footprint by a massive degree, making events more sustainable. It is estimated that the average carbon footprint per attendee could be as high as 2,000 pounds CO2e, if they are travelling from a different city/country.

Finally, virtual events could pave the way for innovative media formats – through 3D tours, virtual walkthroughs, and other creative visualization possibilities that are difficult to create in person.

All told,  virtual events will co-exist with offline conferences as the end of the pandemic draws nearer. We might be craving for human contact and interaction after this period of isolation, which could drive up attendance for events. On the other hand, the sheer convenience of virtual events cannot be forgotten.

You could look forward to buying tickets for a physical gathering, even as you stream a live video of a product launch, gaining the best of both worlds once curbs on travel and social distancing are lifted.

 

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