During the pandemic, most in-person events were canceled...
Today, while the situation has improved and in-person events are an option again, David McMillin notices a lower participation rate in his article Events are back, but the attendees are slow to return. What’s behind the low numbers? This tendency is especially confirmed with big events, during which many guests are a no-show.
This decrease in in-person participation can be explained by various reasons:
Fear of Covid-19 is still present,
Restrictions make traveling more complicated (traveling is only allowed under certain conditions, heavy paperwork and processes, etc.),
People are more eco-conscious: in-person events lead to pollution caused by travel, high energy and material consumption, etc,
The economic situation is unfavorable and makes participants, companies, sponsors, reduce their expenses, such as travel costs, lodging, etc.
The pandemic also gave many participants the opportunity to experience virtual events and virtual meetings. It is true that the abundance of virtual interactions has sometimes led to weariness: where events used to be a break, a breath of fresh air in-between long days at the office, a virtual event might look like one more video call.
However, some of your audience might be convinced by hybrid and virtual events, because they:
Bring some comfort: they make personal and professional organization easy,
Are time savers, because they get rid of commuting time and they give them the opportunity to attend more events that were previously unattainable,
Give an answer to the issues previously listed (health concerns, commute, environment, economic situation).
Hybrid and virtual events offer another significant opportunity. They create a community by making it easy to organize more meetings in between 2 main events: webinars, virtual conferences, workshops, etc.
By offering "à la carte" experiences and access to interesting content throughout the year, you create more value for your participants and sponsors and secure their loyalty.
3.The future of hybrid and virtual events
This tendency doesn’t seem to weaken in our post-pandemic world and according to Reed Exhibition, in 2020, "65 % of all participants and visitors and 57 % of exhibitors were expecting virtual event technologies to still be relevant after the pandemic".*
A new need is born: the power to be able to choose between in-person and virtual.
By offering hybrid events, the event planners answer the needs of their audienceS by giving them the opportunity to choose (instead of endure) the way they want to attend each event. Such a personalized offer can generate more satisfaction and, as a result, more subscribers and most likely fewer no-shows.
But only under some conditions:
Be aware that the benefits will not be the same for virtual and in-person participants: therefore, the offer has to be built accordingly,
Offer a quality of experience for each audience, virtual and in-person, by using appropriate technologies,
Keep the meetings and engagement aspects by using platforms that promote interactions, co-creation and leave room for some fun.
Thanks to new technologies and platforms, the hybrid and virtual formats aren’t only an answer to the distance anymore, but also an opportunity to offer new kinds of events and more services, and allow remote audiences to experience a quality event despite not being there physically.
If you want to discover more about audience engagement, download our ebook here.
*source: 100 Event Statistics Skift Meetings