The power of the event industry since its ‘pandemic’ revolution
After the exhibition and events industry lost more than 16.5 billion USD in 2020, the global virtual event market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.2% from 2020 to 2027.
Virtual event platforms have even seen the number of virtual events increase by 1000% since the pandemic.
The event industry has been suffering, forcing it to reinvent itself and boosting its digital transformation. Hundreds of event platforms have been created or have made significant progress, sometimes receiving billions of dollars in funding, reflecting a new way of organizing events now but also long term. It’s a fact. Hybrid events are now here to stay, and technologies now offer endless options and possibilities to grow your audience, improve users experience, extend the impact of events long term, and increase ROI for sponsors and clients.
But this requires a deep reflection and analyze about the real meaning behind ‘hybrid’ events and what purpose such ‘power’ should serve. Social and environmental responsibility also applies to events.
Social needs are growing with climate change and global awareness, largely supported by technologies
41% of worldwide fundraising donors give in response to natural disasters and we are living one right now. Unfortunately, it won’t be the last one either.
Over the past year, we’ve assisted to new record-breaking online fundraisers such as Captain Tom with £33M raised, and in the meantime, online donations to environmental and human rights-related missions grew the most: 34% and 37% respectively.
The majority of Baby boomers, Millennials and Gen X donors all prefer donating online using their debit card, most donations are made from mobile devices, influenced by social media, and more than 30% of donors give to organizations based in another country.
Global awareness is rising and corporations on their side, gave over $20 billion to non-profit organisations last year.
Whether using social media, text campaigns, embedding a call-to-action button or banner on your event platform and website… Your clients or sponsors should be offered these options. It works!
Technologies aren’t a threat to our human connection needs. They don’t exist to replace them, they can even empower them if used in a way that makes sense.
With 1.3 million business events held in the UK annually and most events jumping onto a virtual conference or webinar format because of lockdown, a new term has emerged: the ‘Zoom fatigue’.
Why? Zoom isn’t the solution to a deeper problem within the event industry and the structure of events itself.
The population is seeking for a more circular and inclusive society, and yet, events are still using one-way communications.
Where is the collaboration in watching 5 different organizations, from the same industry, read their PowerPoints and pretend to be interested in their audience by answering 2 questions from the chat or Q&A while completely putting aside one of the main reasons people usually attend to events, networking?
Where is the engagement?
However, by analyzing the touchpoints of attendees and all stakeholders pre/at/post event we realize there is a multitude of possibilities to engage people, build a community, enable collaborations, support and give much more impact to the events message but also bring value to every stakeholder engaged. Whether it’s using social groups, creating valuable downloads, challenges, a virtual hub, or using gamification or co-design methods, it’s more about using tools in a creative/clever way and building a long term storytelling than organizing a one-day impact event now.
Therefore, event organizers have to become more than just organizers when it comes to virtual and hybrid events. To generate value from hybrid or virtual events the producer has to be a creative community builder and offer unique experiences involving emotions using existing and new technologies in a clever way so it all makes sense.
So let’s do more than just organize a Zoom meeting. Zoom should serve the video communications of your event and be just a component in your dedicated event platform. The event platform, should involve other components like AI networking, an event feed, gamification features, better visibility and interaction opportunities for sponsors in addition of all the basics (chat, Q&A…) etc.
Where is the fun?
Entertainment and pace should also be part of virtual and hybrid events. And yes, by using the right tools and methods, this is possible! Being inclusive also means reaching a new audience. By becoming hybrid, events have the responsibility to keep their audience entertained so they can live an amazing experience, have a bigger impact and also break barriers to knowledge. Where is the point in not involving the public in events dealing with society matters? Why should the audience remain exclusively composed of engineers and other specialists already aware about the topic?
Organizations have understood the impact of events in sharing their values and expertise but are yet to be convinced by the ROI of virtual events and collaboration.
After experiencing so much frustration it’s easy to understand why organisations are yet to be convinced.
Not everyone should produce a hybrid event and certainly not on their own if they don’t have the necessary expertise, amount of time, and the more global vision shared above. Because let’s face it: your virtual event will be ROI negative and the experience of all stakeholders will be affected.
But good news, if well produced, a hybrid or virtual event offers exciting new options and a bigger impact if speakers are open to collaboration.
In an inclusive and circular society, we know that collaboration is key. Therefore, an event shouldn’t be about yourself or a showroom for your services. Instead, they are a unique opportunity to collaborate with complementary stakeholders and industries (sometimes already part of your target audience), pre/at/post event.
In this case it will benefit all organizations involved, but also add even more value to the content for the audience.
By making a difference in such ways, your audience will talk about your event to others, be excited by the idea of joining your next event, your will extend your reach and will appear as being genuine in your approach.
You will also be able to learn so much more about your audience by involving them before/at/post event as we’ve seen when it comes to engagement. All this information can now be tracked and compiled in analytics enabling a better vision on which elements had the best impact on your audience.
And last but not least, all the content created for the event (b-roll footage, e-books, presentations..) can be reused in many occasions after the event in different forms (podcasts, on-demand…)
It’s time for the event industry to take responsibility in joining forces.
The public is seeking for a more circular and inclusive society, and yet, a lot of events aren’t designed that way.
The event industry becoming (and staying) hybrid requires not only the vendors and technologies to adapt, but also the event organizers to take the lead in connecting dots and become event producers/directors/marketers.
We already know how to gather people. It’s more than time to do more by using all the relevant tools we already have at our disposal and those to come, and include them in our storytelling.
Sponsors and clients must on their side, understand the investment that needs to be done so hybrid and virtual events can work at their full capacity and offer them a valuable and sustainable ROI. In ROI there is Investment. And by collaborating together, we can make high quality hybrid experiences, without impacting the costs on the audience.
Breaking silos between industries and organizations, creating social value, enabling purposeful collaborations, creating and centralizing communities around a common goal, limiting our environmental impact, enabling access to knowledge, PRE/AT/POST EVENT… Hybrid events have HUGE value for all stakeholders. Who will be the first to show the way?
Are we going to keep designing new sustainable solutions independently without the valuable insights of all the value chain of our ecosystem?
What’s the main goal of the event? What happens next? What did this event enable?
It’s time for the event industry to take responsibility, bring purposeful projects to the next level by raising awareness on a larger scale, reaching a new audience and building a meaningful and supportive community with complementary stakeholders and industries.
Because everything is connected, it’s time to design events for action.
https://www.justgiving.com/, Virtual Fundraising Monitor 2020.