As COVID-19 continues to spread around the world, almost every aspect of life is being affected. Business models are getting disrupted as governments enforce social distancing rules, which are essential when it comes to containing the spread of the new coronavirus. The event space is one of the hardest-hit industries, and event organizers are adapting to the new realities by going online. Although the idea of virtual events is not new, it is gaining prominence, and clearly, it seems like virtual events might be here to stay.
Transitioning In-Person Events To Virtual Events
All conferences and social gatherings around the world have either been postponed or cancelled. Quarantinecon2020 was the response to social distancing and shelter in place last month. With over 4400 people in attendance, the online conference brought together the experts that are crushin’ it within their respective fields. If you want to spend your time in quarantine more productively and make valuable connections while networking, attending events like this is a great idea.
Another recently held virtual event includes Haus, a direct-to-consumer brand selling aperitifs. Earlier this year, they successfully hosted meetups in cities like Denver and San Francisco—but now, those events have been halted in light of recent news.
However, they’ve decided to pivot and move these gatherings to a new, virtual format: The brand’s co-founders are now hosting a weekly online aperitivo hour. Their first event had a strong turnout: about 60 guests joined from around the world.
There’s also been a rise in virtual day parties, dance parties, film festivals, and music battles around the world.
Instagram Live has become the go-to for musicians of all stripes but especially stars of rap and R&B. Thanks to live music battles, thousands of viewers are able to witness a hitmaker’s skills. The most popular artists, like Timbaland, T-Pain, Lil Jon, Ne-Yo and French Montana are performing for their fans and trying to win each battle, so don’t miss out! You may be the first to hear future hits: for example, The Weeknd played snippets of three unreleased records for his 21.9 million followers. And of course, who could forget the epic Teddy Riley vs. Babyface Instagram battle that drew in over half a million viewers. ICYMI, let’s run that one back: spoti.fi/BabyfacevsTeddy
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Pros of Virtual Events
One of the most obvious benefits of holding virtual events is that it’s helping to curb the spread of COVID-19. However, hosting virtual events also comes with several other advantages. Compared to on-site, in-person events, virtual events are easier to organize and they require less time to set up. Besides, virtual events cost way less than in-person events. For example, studies have shown that a virtual event can cost up to 75% less than on-site, in-person events. That means smaller companies who previously didn’t have the budget to organize an event can now participate online. There’s no venue, no vendors, and no travel arrangements needed. Furthermore, hosting virtual events provides an excellent opportunity for the hosts to get more people to attend. The convenience of being able to participate in an event without having to travel or even to leave home helps virtual events drive attendance.
The Downsides of Virtual Events
However, that doesn’t mean virtual events are a sure win. One big downfall of virtual events has to do with distraction. When people are attending an event in-person, it is easier for them to stay focused throughout a session. However, attending an event virtually leaves attendees exposed to many distractions in their homes, making it harder for speakers to get their attention. Besides, it’s nearly impossible to replicate the same vibes that in-person events create. Since the audience doesn’t experience the same level of excitement that is associated with live events, it’s difficult to engage them and many event hosts have opted to postpone their events until later this year. Last but not least, virtual events come with technology challenges. For a person to attend a virtual event, they may have to download a video conferencing service, like Zoom and if they’ve never used a tool like this before, it may be worth sending them a quick set-up guide beforehand.
The Bottom Line
While we know that virtual events do not hold the same power of face-face interactions, it’s now the only way for most people to hold events in line with public health guidelines on combating COVID-19. Having a plan, and the right tech in place will mean a pivot to digital can be an alternative you have full confidence in, and one you can trust to deliver the engaging, informative experiences to attendees that you work so hard to make happen. Once the crisis of COVID-19 is behind us, the world will look very different and virtual events may become the new normal.