01.27.2021

The Future of Virtual Events

How COVID-19 Has Changed In-Person Events

 

Whether your business is a part of the events industry or your brand participates in tradeshows, conferences, and expos, 2020 was anything but ordinary. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, stringent health and safety restrictions were placed on mass gatherings and in-person meetings by regulatory bodies like the CDC and OSHA.

 

To mitigate disruption, many organizations turned to virtual events. Some of these were hosted as a substitute for a physical event, such as IMTS and CES. Others were longer in duration, creating a digital network for attendees and exhibitors to interact, exchange information, and do business over the course of several months, including PACK EXPO Connects, SupplySide Network 365, and New Hope Network’s Spark Change. With live events, like tradeshows and conferences as well as sports and concerts, poised to return at some point in 2021, will virtual events continue? And if so, what will they look like?

 

CEIR Data on Virtual Events

 

CEIR, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, compiled the report, “Anatomy of Virtual Events and Financial Outcomes,” as the first iteration of their “Global Virtual Events Trends Series.” The article reviewed the past, present, and future of virtual events:

 

PAST

  • The industry was ripe for disruption, and the pandemic forced an acceleration of new technology innovation and adoption.
  • 75% of virtual events in 2020 were affiliated with a physical event (that was subsequently cancelled).

PRESENT

  • Virtual events focus their energy on the delivery of educational content, serving as the biggest motivator for attendance.
  • Medical/Healthcare and Communications/Information Technology are the most active sectors for virtual.
  • The average price of a virtual booth space is 55% of the price of a standard booth at a physical event.
  • 70% of event organizers offer a virtual booth to exhibitors.
  • One advantage is access to behavioral data: the ability to know specifically what participants did, what generated more engagement, and what failed. Sentiment metrics are critical to discern why something went well or not.
  • With the elimination of geography as a boundary to attending, the assumption is that attendance  is apt to be larger compared to attendance to physical events. Overall results find the reverse to be the case. According to total results, attendance is smaller than attendance enjoyed at face-to-face events, where there is an affiliation. And the show-up rates are slightly lower to virtual events compared to physical events.

FUTURE

  • Virtual offerings will complement and enhance rather than replace the face-to-face meeting of the future.
  • About one-third of event organizers representing Consumer Goods/Retail Trade, Government, Sporting Goods, Travel and Amusement sectors do not believe that virtual will be a bigger component of physical events moving forward.

 

Build Your Hybrid Virtual Exhibit Marketing Program

 

Businesses and brands continue to invest in both in-person and virtual events, creating hybridized event marketing programs that fit the needs of their target audience, which may be existing clients, prospects, or partners and affiliates.

 

Whether virtual, physical, or hybrid, Condit has a flexible, innovative solution for your organization. Our expert team of designers can craft an unforgettable exhibit experience in person or online. Take a look at our impressive portfolio of physical builds, learn more about our virtual exhibits, or get in touch to discuss your hybrid project today.