The events industry has been turned upside down over the last two years. With live events being postponed or cancelled due to restrictions, what can anyone do other than adapt?
Enter the birth of virtual and hybrid events.
With the introduction of this adaptation, the ability to reach new audiences and achieve higher engagement levels has soared!
It’s safe to say that with the current circumstances, virtual events are taking center stage—but is there a chance they’ll be replaced by a hybrid solution?
But how have the various industries adapted their events to this virtual landscape?
Let’s look at how going virtual has changed the events game and how different industries are using it to their advantage.
Going virtual to reach further
Though the virtual world has been around for decades, few have embraced the idea of moving a standard experience to a digital landscape.
That was until we were forced to cancel events or put restrictions on how many may attend. Often, these restrictions didn’t make live events a viable option. Of course, there were also the added health risks of attending in-person events.
Shifting to a virtual platform has made it possible to proceed as planned—adding the convenience and safety of attending from the comfort of your home.
Fashion designers chose to place cameras throughout the runway to capture and broadcast their shows live from every angle.
Moschino chose to embrace the current environment and conduct their show using string puppets instead of models.
This kind of out-of-the-box thinking has challenged the standards and traditions that we’re all familiar with. Their innovative ideas have reshaped the future of fashion show events for years to come.
The questions everyone is left asking are: Will display screens for remote guests and figurines become the norm? Or will the fashion industry revert to its old practices?
The entertainment industry, as a whole, has also been heavily affected by the pandemic—especially the music industry.
Organising a concert for a large audience has become practically impossible, making virtual events a better option. Artists have taken to hosting these shows on platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, or through games like Fortnite, or Minecraft.
The technology behind these events improves daily and the ability to reach a new audience could make virtual concerts a regular occurrence beyond COVID-19.
Health and fitness
The fitness industry also had to adapt to the new norm, with personal trainers hosting live or pre-recorded training sessions online.
Larger events like marathons have also jumped on the digital bandwagon, logging participants’ progress remotely through apps and fitness tracking devices.
Though not quite the same, these online gatherings and challenges have inspired people to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Active communities also encourage participants to stay connected and motivate each other.
Having your family and friends join in the celebrations on your special day is part of what makes a wedding day so memorable.
Unfortunately, the wedding industry has also seen some disruptions with brides and grooms having to micro-sites and video conferencing.
The good news is that virtual hosting allows loved ones to participate in the celebrations wherever they are.
To get the full experience, florists and catering and decor companies offer packages, setting everything up wherever the wedding will take place. Makeup artists also run masterclass events to teach bridal makeup at home.
The pandemic may determine how many people attend the wedding, but out-of-the-box thinking makes it possible to cover all bases for a truly special occasion.
Expositions and trade shows
Members of the expo industry have also found creative and innovative ways to recreate the physical event experience. A fully interactive world allows attendees to enjoy these virtual events.
With customisable avatars and brand booths, guests can explore the various displays and interact with each one from the comfort of their homes.
Hosting these virtual events allows attendees to listen in as speakers share about the particular topic of interest.
These events are often a fantastic platform to teach about specific content or share insights, opening the floor for questions.
Businesses find that attendance and engagement often stand at 100% for these one-time educational events.
With many companies converting to remote working, this is also a fantastic tool to share external or internal training materials.
Much like webinars, hosting a virtual conference makes it possible to listen to keynote speakers address certain topics.
The agenda is built around speakers, discussion groups, trialing solutions, and more.
The multi-session layout of the event can involve community engagement tools to encourage networking—much like an in-person event.
The aim of these virtual events is to recreate the live experience of connecting with other attendees while learning valuable information.
The online gaming community stretches far and wide, with professional circuits hosting nail-biting in-person tournaments.
COVID-19 has meant that these events are held entirely online—but it also makes the events more accessible to spectators who normally wouldn’t have been able to attend.
Launches and previews were also highly anticipated live events that have moved to the virtual space. Now, players can purchase tickets (or passes) to enter special in-game areas which host these exclusive events.
With the growing online gaming community, players are encouraged to interact with one another, building personal relationships too.
Want to host your birthday party online where your clan can join in the festivities? Why not? If players can host a wedding in-game, then what’s stopping you?
The cheering crowd creates the atmosphere at sporting events, so could it really be all that fun online?
It certainly can!
The NBA launched a virtual fan experience during the 2019-20 season. With new technology, fans had the opportunity to enjoy the games while being projected on the in-arena video boards.
With cameras positioned closer to the court, fans could enjoy never-before-seen angles of their favorite teams. Strategically placed microphones, announcers, and a DJ added to providing the full courtside experience.
Who says you can’t enjoy a vineyard tour from your home? By hosting a virtual estate tour, vineyards can presell tickets for an exclusive wine tasting, sending the samples to each attendee’s door.
Since many have been unable to travel, Quintessa Estate in Napa has made it possible to still host visitors online.
Of course, these virtual tours aren’t limited to vineyards—museums, landmarks, aquariums, or site-seeing tours are also spectacular opportunities.
What better way to get out and see the world when you can’t leave the house? Virtual tours also make it possible for international guests to enjoy the experience, especially if a flight isn’t on the cards.
Introducing hybrid events
As many companies regain a sense of normalcy, the idea of attending in-person events is still daunting to some. Whichever type of event you’re hosting, it’s possible to have the best of both worlds.
While many industries move back toward traditional in-person events, they’re taking the best components with that of virtual hosting. By embracing this blended approach to event planning, companies are seeing better attendance and more successful events.
This approach is especially suitable for companies hosting internal conferences, but have attendees joining from remote locations.
It requires some extra planning to make it equally engaging for virtual and in-person attendees. But with the right hybrid event hosting platform and forethought, you can create a valuable experience for all involved.
Where to next?
As events start to move back to in-person and hybrid formats do you think these innovative ideas will continue? Or will we revert back to a purely physical style of event hosting?
While virtual has played a significant role recently, we think hybrid events are here to stay! The flexibility makes it more accessible to a larger audience, leaving much greater potential for success.
Click HERE to find out more about why we think hybrid is the new normal.