It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the events industry in 2020. However, its effects extend beyond this calendar year, with numerous in-person events and conferences being canceled for the 2021 season as well.
With these mass cancellations, event professionals are wondering what changes the industry will face moving forward. How will they adapt to survive the endless in-person gathering restrictions? What can they do to ensure continued growth for their events and business?
The answer is simple: embrace virtual events.
Pivoting to Virtual Events in 2020 and Beyond
When the pandemic hit, businesses and individuals alike turned to video conferencing software to connect, host meetings, and stay sane.
The events industry adopted this same focus by pivoting their attention to virtual events to keep the industry afloat.
Instead of a massive industry conference, brands can hold virtual conferences complete with exciting webcasts, live-streamed panel discussions, the use of virtual reality and augmented reality, and beyond.
Ongoing Emphasis on Attendee Participation
Pre-pandemic, attendee participation was simply assumed. Opportunities to meet with vendors and attend panels were provided, but it was up to the individual to interact with others.
Now, events professionals must provide a myriad of opportunities for attendees to participate in the virtual event. After all, no one wants to pay for a virtual event only to stare at a screen all day.
The future of the events industry lies in virtual events that embrace engaging opportunities such as:
- 1-on-1 video meetings with brands, influencers, and vendors alike
- Engaging—but moderated—chat rooms with other attendees
- Interactive webcast features such as polling and Q&A
- Social media hashtags, contests, and conversations
- Joining the live stream to ask questions of the panelists
Event Content + Attendee Interaction = Lead Generation
Of course, most businesses use events and conferences as a means for lead generation. But with the one-on-one in-person interactions long gone, how will brands generate future business from events?
The solution is to pair intriguing virtual event content with attendee interaction.
Attendees will want to learn more about the businesses that went above and beyond to provide meaningful virtual content and interactions over the brands who offered the bare minimum.
Additionally, look for opportunities to follow-up after the event for further lead generation efforts.
Prepare Your Virtual Event for the Future
All great virtual events start with the right tools. Otherwise, you’ll have several disappointed attendees on your hands! Check out how PGi’s suite of video conferencing, online events, and webcasting tools can help your events team grow and thrive in a new industry normal.