2021 was an interesting time for hosting events. Although the pandemic continued to spread, statistics showed a distinct drop in cases that made many hopeful that COVID-19 was coming to an end. With vaccinations and boosters becoming readily available, many businesses became comfortable with the idea of hosting more in-person events in the upcoming year.
However, as the Omicron variant continues to spread rapidly, many companies may be concerned about these planned events now that cases are starting to increase once again.
Much like at the beginning of the pandemic, nobody knows when cases will start to decrease and when large gatherings will be completely safe once again. Now, companies are back to the same question they were asking themselves in 2020: Should I cancel my upcoming event?
Here’s the good news: You definitely don’t have to cancel your event. Thanks to the past two years, virtual events have not only become commonplace, but they’re also better than ever before. Prior to 2020, virtual events were few and far between, mostly because there weren’t nearly as many platforms as there are today. In 2022, however, there are countless online event platforms to choose from, and they all have different pros and cons (you can check out this blog to see our take on 2022’s best virtual event platforms).
Virtual events certainly aren’t what they used to be. At the beginning of 2020, the majority of online events were hastily thrown together and poorly planned due to lack of time. Now that we’ve had nearly two years utilizing virtual events, we know that digital experiences have the potential to be amazing.
With access to newly-designed features that encourage audience engagement and networking opportunities, online events have started to truly rival their in-person counterparts.
It’s also important to note that no matter how you feel about online events, having a digital experience is better than having nothing at all. In fact, some marketing researchers would argue that virtual events are better for attendees than in-person events.
According to a 2019 study by Smart Meetings, young professionals have shown to be much more likely to attend online events than those in-person. The majority of respondents only attended 1-2 in-person events but attended over 10 online events. And now, over three years later, people are even more likely to participate in virtual events due to the accessibility and ease of attendance.
While some of your audience members may have reservations about attending yet another virtual event, you have to opportunity to utilize creativity and innovation to show them that your companies events are always amazing- even when they’re online.
What are the first steps?
When transitioning your event from in-person to virtual, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Here are some questions to ask yourself before getting started:
- Will this event be entirely virtual? If you still want to have a smaller group of people attend a physical event, you could host a hybrid conference that is both in-person and online. To learn more about hybrid events, check out this blog.
- How many people will be attending online? Figuring out how many attendees your event will have is hugely important when choosing a virtual event platform. Keep in mind that it’s likely that many more people will be able to attend digitally, so your attendance numbers may be higher than you expect.
- Will I be hosting more virtual events in the future? This is another great question to ask before choosing a platform. While some providers only offer platforms that are single-use, there are also some that offer custom domains that will remain active as long as you continue to host events.
- What are the specific features I need on my platform? Having a pre-determined list of features that you want on your event platform is a good way to weed out which platforms won’t work for you.
These are just a few questions to get you started on thinking about your event in a new way. To learn more about shifting your in-person event to an online medium, schedule a free consultation with us today.