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This can certainly not be the first time you have heard of Virtual Events this year. The 2020 Primetime Emmy telecast was presented as the first of the world’s major awards ceremonies to have been held completely virtual, but it is unlikely to be the last. If Emmys and Movie premieres could go virtual, we are looking at a future of successfully upgraded
virtual event culture.

COVID-19 brought down gatherings and audience engagement events and changed the landscape of event management. Event professionals had to emerge with quick and promising solutions to intractable and challenging times like these. With the pandemic still raining havoc and
raising safety concerns, even some of the largest conferences and high-budget events have gone digital. Hosting events like this online can reduce costs and make attendance more convenient to a wider audience. From real-time live updates to live streaming, businesses and event-based organizations are efficiently staging virtual events across the world abiding by the safety protocols. Hosting events virtually, especially during these difficult times, has evolved into a dire necessity for the event industry.

The shift to “virtual” could definitely not have been easy as it may seem. From planning to pack-up, event organizers have always had a hoarded checklist to go by for in-person events. Getting all that done virtually while also making sure the attendees are assured a real-time experience is quite challenging. The sudden and unprepared shift to virtual events paved way for all sorts of new challenges for planners every step of the way. From rethinking stage and set design, familiarising the entire crew with the introduction of new technology to finding innovative and creative audience engagement tactics. We are definitive in accepting that virtual events will and can never replace the face-to-face experience that an in-person event guarantees. But if we are counting our takeaways from the period of virus worries, the impact that virtual events brought about can’t go missing. When the entire world was more or less shut down and locked up with socializing completely off the table, we still had daily life running under control ranging from schools to auctions, virtually.

With the help of Livestreaming tools and considerate collaborations with Virtual Event Providers, we were able to host and take part in small to large scale events, meetings, and conferences including weddings and special occasion gatherings. Impressively, the event virtualizers were able to generate a close to real experience with virtual lobbies, across the globe networking, and real-time attendee interaction techniques like Q/A and polls. Notably, the key requirement for succeeding in pulling off an event through restrictions was to have virtual production partners and event managers collaborate and share the work so as to ensure that the quality of the production and delivery is not compromised.

As the world and its people have been making peace with the hybrid events practice for quite a while now, it may seem like an even familiar territory than strictly virtual formats and more accessible and comfortable. Before the year 2020, most hybrid events held treated the virtual audience as an afterthought and gave them a second guestlist priority. Hybrid events back then were designed around the in-person experience, with live streams of speaker presentations tacked on as a feature for those who couldn’t be at the venue physically. An insightful look into 2021 draws us to a conclusion that: The virtual audience makes up a huge share of attendees than the normal, small-scale in-person experiences where an invitee not turning up had higher chances.

Hybrid events, the new trendsetting event drill, are events that incorporate both in-person and virtual tools like live-streaming elements. Their demand has grown in recent years, and with the COVID-19 impact on the event-based industry, the chances of large groups of people gathering are unlikely by a long shot. The events of the future will be hybrid by definition. Pre-pandemic style face-to-face events will have a virtual component to tag along. Hybrid events are here to stay!

Virtual technology and A/V capabilities are the tools in hand presently for planners to create a hybrid event setting. Planners expect significant support from venues when it comes to enabling the online experience of a hybrid event. The support in this context would include virtual tech support like A/V, room configuration and setup, and uninterrupted connectivity. Venue managers need to start looking at events through the prism of virtual and in-person experience and collaborate accordingly with the event professionals. Digitalising the concept of event invitations/ticket purchasing has also proven to be much more lucrative and effective than regular in-person invites that were sent out with no assurance of participation.

Event management professionals are accustomed to adapt to crises and setbacks in their business. Usually speaking, most event-based companies plan ahead for a year or more and must have crossed over every detail from the design of the banners to the logistics of housing thousands of attendees. The culture of events and gatherings is no longer going to be based merely on dates, venue, and people. A pandemic on loose world’s future meetings and events business are also about safety, efficiency, and total transparency.

As humans, the need to connect and interact with others is in our scientific nature. It is not surprising that it didn’t take us long enough to figure out a way to still keep the world, a happening place, with events and celebrations running smoothly, though virtually. When times get unfavorable, there will always be a necessity and desire to perpetually learn and educate ourselves and others in the process. And it’s done by co-existing and successfully supporting each other to help every business flourish through the rough patches. This is exactly what the event industry is driven towards as well.

Until the pandemic pressure is put out, we will continue to seek leverage in the virtual strategies and technologies we’ve adopted this year. But more importantly, the future of event culture just took a big turn and ‘virtual events’ have certainly shaken the grounds with more people involved in participating. Once again the world has proven to be a small place with advancing technology by its side.