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The Current State of the Virtual Event Industry

Prior to March 2020, virtual events were an extremely uncommon feat. There are very few service providers for digital platforms - and for good reason; there wasn’t nearly enough demand to necessitate a competitive market at that time. 

In March of 2020, however, everything got flipped upside down. The pandemic impacted just about every market in the world, including the events industry. 

Almost two years ago, the virtual event market was valued at $94 billion. In 2021, it’s valued at $114 billion, and with a compound annual growth rate of 23.7%, the industry is expected to reach over $500 billion in 2028. 

This kind of growth is unprecedented in the events field. It’s never been so easy- or so necessary- for a business to implement digital communication platforms into their work environments. The majority of the growth that has impacted the digital event industry has been the increased need for social interaction in a time when physical contact was heavily discouraged. 


Here are the basics:

  • The virtual events industry is expected to have a $400 billion value increase by 2028
  • Virtual events are 75% less expensive than in-person events
  • Large scale events take up the majority of virtual events, holding 70% of the market share
  • The increased adoption of virtual platforms by large corporations is expected to drive significant growth for online events

So why does this matter?

The communication segment accounted for the largest market share of over 35% in 2020. Whether it be a large gala, a fundraising event, or even a smaller business meeting, people needed an effective way to communicate safely. Zoom and other live video conferencing tools boomed at the start of the pandemic for that very reason. 

Once it became common knowledge that there were digital tools available for those who needed to have socially distant meetings, people started to recognize the true potential that virtual events could have. After all, if people can replicate socialization via the internet, shouldn’t they also be able to utilize those tools for other means? 

But the communication element isn’t the only reason that the virtual event industry is booming. Marketing, sales, training, education, and e-commerce are all huge contributing factors to the huge growth that digital experiences have seen.

And that’s not even considering the huge impact that entertainment has had on virtual events. With huge artists like Kanye West, Ariana Grande, and Billie Eilish embracing online concerts, the events industry is just getting started. It didn’t take large-scale companies long to recognize this either. Apple Music, Epic Games, and Disney are just a few examples of huge entertainment businesses that are investing in digital experiences. 

The enterprise segment accounted for the largest market share of over 55.0% in 2020 and is anticipated to dominate the market from 2021 to 2028. Because so many public and private companies are beginning to embrace digital platforms, large corporations are expected to drive segment growth for the next few years. 

The healthcare industry in particular saw a peak in online meetings and webinars during the beginning of the pandemic in the summer of 2020. With health risks at an all-time high, healthcare workers were among the first to recognize the need for safe, accessible meetings. 

The banking, financial services, and insurance segment is also expected to observe the fastest compound annual growth rate of over 25% from 2021 to 2028. The training service segment and the extended events segment are both likely to have the same extremely quick growth rate.

With that being said, it’s clear that virtual events are expected to have a huge impact on the future of event planning. While some people may have thought that the end of the pandemic would signify the end of digital events- these stats prove otherwise. 

The pandemic had a huge influence on the quick success that the virtual events industry experienced. However, since then, the industry has proven itself to be sustainable with or without mask mandates and social distancing parameters. 

Conclusion

North America in particular accounts for over 40% of the virtual events market, which isn’t surprising when you consider the mass amount of digitized content that’s produced in the continent. 

It’s even less surprising when you recognize that virtual events are 75% less expensive than in-person experiences. Once planners go through the effort to thoroughly budget a virtual event that rivals their in-person counterparts, it’s often apparent which option is more reasonably priced. According to Grand View Research, ​​working with a third-party planner allows platform providers to focus on internal priorities such as creating compelling content instead of external priorities, including logistics and vendor management.

So not only are virtual events more cost-effective, but they’re also getting you a way bigger bang for your buck. Hosting an in-person event requires you to focus on trivial things like catering or decor, rather than focusing on the real important part of your event- the content. 

To put it simply, virtual events are here to stay. The impressive height that the market growth projections are hitting proves that much.  With these kinds of numbers, it's safe to say that the online event industry won’t be fizzling out any time soon- in fact, it seems as though the industry is just now getting started. 

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